Coronavirus in the UAE
The UAE cabinet headed by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, continues introduction of new extensive measures for people's health protection, business support and targeted aid to the most vulnerable social groups.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed assured, the country faring well in this challenging time. "We, in the UAE, are lucky, as our conditions are relatively better.", - he said. Specifically, he pointed out the most significant reasons for that:
- Availability of qualified human cadres capable of efficiently shouldering the responsibility of confronting the proliferation of Covid-19;
- Precautionary measures implemented early;
- Early response to contain the virus at its onset;
- UAE benefitted from the experience of other advanced countries like Singapore, South Korea and China in dealing with the situation;
- UAE is still maintaining transparent channels of coordination with these countries
Adding to that he noted: "We are among the most successful nations in the region in addressing this challenge, both in terms of the number of individuals who have been examined and the potential and resources boasted by the country."
From the very beginning of the pandemic the UAE has been at the forefront of global efforts to prevent the boost and further spread of the coronavirus. Implementing preventative measures to ensure public safety, the Emirati have gained the admiration of the international community.
What think about pandemic COVID-19 Steve Harvey
A Hollywood star and a radio host Steve Harvey called the UAE "the safest place on Earth right now in terms of large countries" on his Morning Show. Commenting on the steps had been taken, he praised a quick and proactive response and noted: "It has a lot of to do with leadership over there because … they love their people and they do everything to protect and keep their people safe".
In order to slow up the coronavirus spread the Government has offered a wide scale of measures including:
- distant learning and work;
- closure of malls, commercial centers, entertainment and touristic sites;
- Abu Dhabi Health Services Company opened 13 drive-through Covid-19 testing centers;
- suspension of prayers in all places of worship across the country until further notice;
- digital transaction management solutions for Notary Public's services;
- flights, Dubai Metro and Dubai tram suspended;
- an intensive disinfection of roads and establishments, assigning inspection teams to restaurants, supermarkets and grocery stores.
To minimize social contacts during quarantine the authorities released the residents and corporates from the number of duties concerning prolonging visas, licenses, permits, etc, expired on the 31-st of March. The validity of corresponding documents will be extended for 3 months, starting April the 1st.
The World Health Organisation commended the UAE's efficient and quick response to the pandemic, among other GCC states:
- Hospitals have enlarged bed capacities and critical care facilities. Medical staff stays at work 24/7 to monitor and detect early coronavirus cases and implement the necessary quarantine measures to patients and those who have been in contact with anyone diagnosed. They so far helped to recover for 852 patients (for 04.14.2020);
- Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company turned the conference center into a coronavirus hospital for up to 4,000 patients;
- In 14 days only the laboratory, providing an immediate solution to COVID testing, was built in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai has launched online #ThankYouHeroes campaign, calling for all citizens to join the action and express gratitude and appreciation for all medical staff participating in the struggle against global pandemic.
"Our medical teams today are the nation's custodians and the first line of defense against humanity's biggest enemy." - he said.
In order to help corporates and residents in these trying times, the Cabinet has enacted a range of economic stimulus packages and notably simplified doing business.
The federal stimulus in the UAE has mainly come in the form of an AED 100 billion grant from the UAE Central Bank. Easing of regulations and reduction in fees, it aims to provide support for corporate and retail customers:
- the UAE central Bank has advised banks to use the funding provided to grant temporary relief up to 6 months to corporates and retail customers;
- 5% increase in the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio applicable to mortgages for first time buyers;
- increase the maximum exposure banks can have to the real estate sector from 20% to 30%, with banks being required to hold additional capital if they surpass the 20% exposure threshold;
- all banks were advised to open bank accounts for small and medium enterprise customers within 2 days.
Policies implemented in Abu-Dhabi
The Abu Dhabi government has introduced a 16-point economic stimulus package, which seeks to support economic activity and reduce the cost of living in the Emirate. Also, the continuation of all approved capital expenditure and development projects in the Emirate was confirmed.
Exemption of fees that refers to all sectors up to the end of 2020 contains:
- an annual registration fee for commercial vehicles;
- toll gate tariffs for all vehicles;
- real estate registration;
- tawtheeq fees for the commercial and industrial sectors.
Water and electricity subsidies with AED 5 billion fund were delivered to citizens, commercial and industrial companies.
Financial support: The Abu Dhabi Investment Office will manage an AED 3 billion credit guarantee program for small and medium enterprises. For financial markets, an AED 1 billion fund has been established to stabilize markets. A committee to review lending options for local companies has been set up.
Tourism related costs: Up to a 20% rebate on rents for restaurants, tourism and entertainment related occupiers. In addition to this municipality fees relating to these sectors have been suspended for the remainder of 2020.
Policies implemented in Dubai
The government of Dubai has launched an AED 1.5 billion economic stimulus package over the next 3 months to support its economy. The package totaling 15 initiatives focuses on the commerce, retail, external trade, tourism and energy sectors. The highlights include:
- freeze on the 2.5% market fee levied on all firms in Dubai;
- 20% refund on custom fess which are levied on imported goods sold in the local market;
- removal of AED 50,000 bank guarantee requirement;
- fees imposed on customs clearance documents will be reduced by 90%;
- the municipality fee imposed on sales at hotels has been reduced from 7% to 3.5%.
After a 3-month period the package will be possibly altered in accordance with the economic situation.
Some of the major developers, like Dubai Holding, Al-Futtaim Group, ICT and Meraas, have offered support packages and rent relief. Aldar Properties voted an AED 100 million fund to support its renters, occupiers and residents.