After the end of Ramadan and this year’s celebration of Eid over the long weekend, it has been announced that many social restrictions put in place to limit the spread of covid-19 in the UAE will be lifted. As of today (May 27th 2020), establishments such as cinemas, gyms, and shops are permitted to reopen, but with stringent hygiene and distancing rules. A definite ray of hope for those who love to holiday in Arabian destinations like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, this closely monitored opening of leisure and business facilities signals a careful and gradual return to the level of normality the global community craves at the moment. 

Entertainment and recreational centres such as cinemas, sports academies, gyms, fitness clubs and health clubs will reopen along with attractions such as the Dubai Mall Ice Rink, the Dubai Dolphinarium, and the Lost Chambers Aquarium. Shopping enthusiasts will no doubt be anticipating retail and wholesale stores being able to open their doors to customers once again. Meanwhile, additional services resuming which will surely please residents and give frequent visitors a sense of optimism for future travels include increased health facilities and procedures available, opening academic institutes, and giving access to therapy centres. 


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We’re glad to report that the above facilities opening up in Dubai and the other emirates are also accompanied by a set of strong precautionary measures. The UAE will continue their sanitisation programme as they take to the streets thoroughly clean and disinfect public areas each day (11pm and 6am for Dubai & 8pm to 6am for Abu Dhabi). Businesses likely to need additional sanitisation (cinemas and gyms, for example) will also have to abide by capacity rules as well as hygiene procedures, meanwhile wearing PPE and keeping at a safe distance in public will be monitored and enforced.

Similarly, it gives us great pleasure to announce that in Abu Dhabi, shopping malls and dining establishments have reopened. However, they have done so with new regulations regarding the number of people they admit at any one time. There is also a continued focus on wearing PPE in public and remaining at least 2 metres away from those outside their households. The Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi is introducing a ‘safe and clean’ certification scheme in phases for all businesses and organisations in the tourism industry. The scheme aims to elevate and maintain safety and hygiene standards for tourists and tourism workers, and it claims to be the first of its kind in the Gulf region.


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Airports, though for the time being open only for the return of UAE residents and transit travellers, will also continue to be operational. The CEO of Dubai Airports, Paul Griffiths, has spoken on the matter, stating that, “Dubai International Airport is prepared to welcome visitors as soon as airports around the world start reopening and pave the way for a phased resumption of air services…We have put in place a set of health and safety protocols at our airports, including all necessary quarantine arrangements and the implementation of sanitisation and disinfection measures to reassure tourists that Dubai is one of the safest destinations to visit.”

Emirates Airlines announced just last week how they will manage to keep the health and safety of their staff and customers at the forefront whilst they resume passenger flights to nine destinations. Their lengthy press release covered introduction of complementary hygiene kits (gloves, masks, anti-bacterial wipes & hand sanitiser), thermal scanners at airports to detect fever, microbial shields at check-in desks, advanced HEPA air filters for the aircrafts (removing 99.97% of viruses), and full PPE for staff. These measures, amongst those released recently by other airlines are the first exciting indications of practical and virus-proof commercial travel to some of the world’s favourite destinations.


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UAE-based airlines, airports, and local businesses are not the only ones preparing for the future as hotels begin to assess how they will run safely. Whilst public beaches in Dubai remain closed at the moment, hotel beaches are already open to guests.* Meanwhile, The Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi has shared detailed guidelines which, when followed, should allow hotels and resorts to welcome guests to their many amazing restaurants, bars, swimming pools, exercise facilities and beaches. Ali Al Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi said the measures “…will ensure that not only will they be able to resume trading at the earliest opportunity…” but that they will also be keeping “…all members of the community safe and secure.”

The northern emirates are no exception to this movement towards opening up their hotels and other businesses – however cautiously. In Ras Al Khaimah, 45 hotels were given permission to resume their normal operations at a 75% capacity and with increased attention to PPE and other protective measures. Ras Al Khaimah is also expected to follow suit with a safety certification for businesses in the tourism sector, details of which are due to be officially communicated later this week. It’s also good news for Fujairah and Ajman, who have allowed their hotel restaurants, bars, and other facilities to open whilst adhering to social distancing and additional hygiene regulations to ensure the comfort and safety of guests.


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In fact, hotels worldwide are beginning to prepare with a renewed energy and focus with regards to the safety of their customers and staff. Hilton Hotels are set to roll out their CleanStay™ initiative in June, which is a great comfort for those who have questions about how they might be protected on future holidays. The Hilton CleanStay™ programme includes new disinfecting technologies, enhanced sanitisation of frequently touched areas, contactless check-in and check-out, as well as an electronic Hilton CleanStay™ Room Seal to indicate that guest rooms have not been accessed since being cleaned.

Among the other hotel groups introducing new measures to ensure a healthy holiday environment is the Kempinski chain, who is set to initiate ‘The Kempinski White Glove Services’ across their hotels worldwide. Enhanced safety protocols cover the entire guest experience from arrival to arrangement of public areas, staff regulations, food & beverage preparation, housekeeping, plus communal spa and exercise spaces. Guests can even request a ‘Do not enter my room option’, whereby transactions that would normally occur inside their suite (room service, luggage drop-off etc.) will instead occur on the other side of the door.


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The Jumeirah Group can also stand and be counted among those hotel chains who have gone above and beyond to improve their offering for prospective guests and staff. New protective measures include hygiene training, temperature screening, and sanitisation fogging up to three times a day. Housekeeping vigorously clean and aerate rooms on a daily basis and in-between stays, they are left vacant for three days after the departure of the last guests where possible as an additional safety measure. In recognition of their efforts, Jumeirah Al Naseem in Dubai has become the first hotel in the world to receive the Bureau Veritas Safeguard label.

Whilst of course these are just the beginnings of Arabia’s grand reopening, it is extremely comforting to see the effort and attention going into making the public spaces, attractions, and resorts we love to visit safe. Arabia is a truly remarkable part of this world with a diverse and distinct offering for those wishing to discover it. We anticipate great things for the future of travel in the UAE with a combination of world-renowned hospitality (including attention to new health and safety measures), an unbelievable track record for innovation and use of technology, plus an incredible array of resorts from islands to desert oases that are already designed with isolation in mind.

*Update: As of Friday 29th May 2020, Dubai Municipality has announced the re-opening of their public beaches, including: JBR Beach, Al Mamzar, Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim.

About The Author

Resident foodie and festival-obsessive, Georgia is always looking for her next big adventure. Between writing and researching for Kenwood, she can usually be found thinking about her next meal or exciting getaway (sometimes both at the same time). While frequenting obscure gigs and discovering local delicacies are major hobbies, she also gets a thrill from correcting our wayward grammar and spelling.

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