Contained in the pores and skin of this shut U.S. ally, a federation of emirates fashioned in 1971, are two markedly totally different powerhouses. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown these contrasts into stark reduction.
Abu Dhabi, with enormous oil reserves and hydrocarbon industries, has been comparatively insulated from this international disaster, whereas Dubai, which is determined by worldwide journey, commerce, actual property, and particularly tourism, has been devastated by a illness that makes folks keep residence.
“Dubai is like the last word place for handshakes and hugs and again slaps — Dubai is all-out bodily interplay,” mentioned Jim Krane, an professional on the area at Rice College’s Baker Institute and writer of “Metropolis of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism.”
“Dubai simply falls aside if you must shut down journey and social distance and Abu Dhabi is sort of unaffected,” he mentioned.
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The pandemic, many Center East observers predict, will additional solidify Abu Dhabi’s energy within the federation, which was as soon as largely ruled by negotiations among the many ruling households and infrequently noticed Dubai making an attempt to chart its personal course. Dubai initially cut up off from Abu Dhabi in 1833, and the pair fought a border warfare in 1947 when the British nonetheless held sway over what was then often called the Trucial States.
“It has been there since day one — over the previous 170 years of our historical past, it was Dubai versus Abu Dhabi,” mentioned Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a Dubai-based Emirati political scientist.
Dubai has gained worldwide consideration with its high-end accommodations, wild skyscrapers, international branding and the world’s busiest airport for worldwide journey. Its wings, nonetheless, have been clipped a bit when the worldwide financial disaster of 2008 required a $20 billion bailout licensed by its richer neighbor. Dubai’s tallest constructing, the Burj Khalifa, which can also be the tallest on the earth, was named after Abu Dhabi’s ruler.
Since then, Dubai has been extra cautious to comply with Abu Dhabi’s lead and curtail its profitable commerce relations with international locations of which the capital would not approve, equivalent to Iran and Qatar.
“Primarily, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have fully totally different political economies the place Abu Dhabi, in fact, has the majority of the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund and it’s effectively positioned for the medium and lengthy haul,” mentioned Christopher Davidson, an professional on gulf affairs from Britain’s Durham College. “They’re like two political economies facet by facet, however more and more within the final decade or extra, one has been a a lot stronger companion than the opposite.”
Dubai’s must get again to work — tourism contributes 11.5 % of its financial system — meant that it tackled the coronavirus with a higher sense of urgency than its neighbors.
First, it shut down two densely populated neighborhoods within the outdated a part of city earlier than extending a three-week, 24-hour lockdown to the remainder of town in April — a course not adopted by every other emirate. Malls, seashores, eating places, and public amusements have been additionally closed down earlier.
However because the finish of Could, Dubai has quickly opened up and lifted strictures forward of its neighbors in an obvious message that right here, at the least, the virus has been contained — and vacationers can return. Masks are nonetheless necessary in public; bars and nightclubs (however not eating places) stay closed, and social distancing guidelines are enforced in public locations.
“We have now taken very strict precautionary measures throughout all tourism touchpoints and round vacationer arrivals,” the Dubai tourism authority mentioned in a press release. “Simply as with different federal governments, particular person emirates are capable of take their very own precautions and selections on easy methods to open up.”
The variety of new infections within the UAE continues to rise. The full now reaches greater than 53,000 circumstances and 328 deaths. As in different Persian Gulf international locations, there have been outbreaks among the many massive inhabitants of migrant employees, who typically reside in shut quarters, and several other of those neighborhoods have been focused in testing and disinfection campaigns.
The federal government has not revealed the place infections are occurring. Dubai introduced final week that the final affected person had left its 3,000-bed discipline hospital arrange on the World Commerce Heart in April.
The Nationwide Emergency Disaster and Catastrophe Administration Authority didn’t reply to requests for touch upon the nation’s coronavirus insurance policies.
Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of Dubai Tourism, expressed confidence lately that guests would return.
“We seem within the high one to 5 locations individuals are searching for in most of our supply markets,” he mentioned in a video assertion issued to media retailers. “We’re very certain that tourism in Dubai goes to beat this in a short time. World wide, individuals are already searching for their subsequent reserving and what we’ve already seen is Dubai stays on high of their record.”
A few of the metropolis’s high accommodations mentioned that they had obtained a couple of reservations by foreigners for July. However with the pandemic nonetheless making worldwide journey unsure, reservation managers mentioned most individuals have been asking about August and September.
Whereas Abu Dhabi has been affected by a pointy drop in international oil costs, it has been partly insulated by a sovereign wealth fund value practically $1 trillion. It has primarily sealed itself off from the remainder of the nation because the starting of June, requiring till lately a allow to enter. To get into Abu Dhabi now, UAE residents and residents should current a coronavirus take a look at consequence lower than 48 hours outdated.
The totally different emirates have issued competing pointers on which international locations could also be visited and whether or not quarantine can be required upon return.
Abdulla mentioned the variations have been to be anticipated in such a federation, the place every half has its personal method of doing issues in accordance with its priorities, whilst they work collectively for the nation’s prosperity.
“Simply as there’s a competitors between New York and California, there may be additionally a little bit of wholesome competitors between Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” he mentioned. “However 80 % of the time they complement one another superbly.”