Coronavirus News Asia

UAE sets example on tackling Covid-19 impact

The world is now grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, as almost every country takes drastic measures to prevent its spread. Much of the initial focus has been on medical intervention and social distancing. However, as these dramatic measures take hold, it is important to appreciate the economic gravity in order to stave off a different kind of disaster.

As the disease spreads and as people are forced out of work for weeks and possibly months to “flatten the curve” – reducing the infection rate so hospitals are not overwhelmed – economies are grinding to a halt. 

UAE’s response

In the United Arab Emirates, testing centers have been opened all around the country to track and trace infections efficiently, as knowing where infections originated helps authorities prevent further transmissions of the virus. This has already proved effective in flattening the infection curve not just in the UAE, but also in Germany, South Korea and Australia. Nations without this sort of rigorous testing have seen large spikes in infections, leading in turn to more economically suffocating lockdown measures.

Yet testing can only go so far, and as the UAE has discovered, more comprehensive measures are needed to slow infection rates and prevent devastating economic shocks. 

The Emirates’ early success may stem from the highest ranks of government being actively involved in health care and economic support. Indeed, Emirati leaders chair virtual meetings to ensure everyone is properly looked after and sectors can function as effectively and safely as possible. 

The UAE is one of a handful of nations that have taken firm, decisive action to combat the economic fallout this pandemic will certainly create. The country’s support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should prompt the rest of the world to navigate these trying circumstances properly. 

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed rolled out economic relief in addition to medical and health procedures early on. Abu Dhabi’s Executive Council announced 16 new initiatives designed to support businesses and the community.

These initiatives include providing credit guarantees for SMEs, exemptions on commercial vehicle registration fees, subsidies for electricity for startups, fast-tracking government invoices to get businesses paid more quickly, land leasing reductions, penalties waived, rental rebates for hospitality, tourism, and entertainment sectors, and beneficial lending options, among others. 

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