The coronavirus is creating havoc to public life and economic markets across the globe, but its rapid growth in Iran has countries across the Gulf region becoming increasingly concerned. Multiple media outlets are reporting that the United Arab Emirates has called on residents to avoid cross-border travel and has imposed quarantine restrictions to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus, a measure the Financial Times is calling it “a blow to the state’s position as a global business hub.”
The Dubai Health Authority yesterday released a travel advisory, while several diamond traders in Antwerp with interests in Dubai have told us they have already been advised not to travel to the UAE, with one saying on condition of anonymity, “It would certainly be an inconvenience if our offices in the Almas Tower close, but we can continue conducting the majority of our activities as usual from Antwerp.”
Dubai’s Emirates Airline has cancelled flights to Iran, Bahrain and most of mainland China while reducing capacity to Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore. The Ministry of Health and Community Protection has called on citizens and residents to avoid travelling altogether. Those travelling from elsewhere or returning to Dubai from abroad will be subject to a medical screening. The outbreak has prompted schools to close for four weeks and a host of events in the UAE have been cancelled.
As well as its links with China, where the coronavirus outbreak began, the UAE is home to a significant number of people from Iran, the third-worst affected country with more than 3,500 confirmed cases.