Dubai Lockdown Lifts, Souk Still Empty
By Shawn Blore - May 4, 2020
The UAE relaxed its lockdown measures on April 24, 2020. Residents no longer need a permit to be outside between the hours of 6am to 10pm. Dubai shopping malls, markets and commercial outlets re-opened, though for restricted hours, with social distancing and other protective measures in force.
The easing of restrictions appears not to have adversely affected the UAE’s battle with the coronavirus. As of April 25, the UAE had suffered 8756 cases and 56 deaths from COVID-19. A week and a half later, on May 4, infections had risen to 14,163 cases and 126 deaths. New infections has fallen to 4% of total cases.
However, the easing of the lockdown appears to have done little for the Dubai gold souk, formerly one of the most active sites in the world for both the purchase of artisanally produced gold and the sale of fine gold jewellery. According to to a Dubai gold industry professional who spoke to the AGC, the gold souk was one of the parts of Dubai hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of May 2, the Gold Souk remained closed, undergoing disinfection. The nearby spice souk was slowly coming back life.
The photos in this blog were taken May 2. Where once there were crowds as thick as any soccer match, now the souk features mostly long empty corridors.
Quotes below come from a Dubai gold industry professional who spoke to the AGC
Signs of life: “This was one of the most worst hit areas if not the most worst. The spice souk and other markets next to the souk are also slowly coming back to life”
No new cases: “Gold souk is still not open but the sterilization is going on which is the step before opening. It’s promising that the metro station next to the souk is open now and there are no new cases reported from this area for last few days.”
Jewellers who spoke to the AGC’s correspondent are very anxious about business pos-COVID.
Many going home: “:Indians, who are the largest expatriate community, have registered in large numbers to return back home as and when the flight services are restored. There is a lot of job loss and uncertainty in business is creating serious concerns”