“The United Arab Emirates’ Startling Success Against Covid-19 Pandemic: An Overview”

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By: Mr. Khalid Taimur Akram, Executive Director, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad

Introduction:

Ever since the world is struck by the dangerously contagious COVID-19 pandemic, the governments and decision-makers across the stateswere tested like never before. The states that were unpreparedagainst this novel coronavirus had to face severe repercussionsand had to pay a hefty price for their negligence. While those governments which were aware of the repercussions of the serious challenge, left no stones unturned to eradicate it under their pragmatic approach and firm measures. In this context, the prudent and triumphantstrategies of the leadership of United Arab Emirates (UAE) provides a glaring manifestation of the later approach as mentioned above.

The UAE is the tribal federation of seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Qaiwain, Fujairah, Ajman, and Ra’s al-Khaimah), acquiring a sizeable portion of the Southeastern Arabian Peninsula.This part of the Arabian Peninsula which consists of one of the most viable states of the world, the UAE, withimmense potential is known for its thriving economy and vibrant metropolis has boosted exceptionally during the course of past decades. It haswitnessed a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities, to a modern state with rapid advancement. The federation here hasexpedited infrastructure upgradation, generated numerous job opportunities and hasprovidedwide-ranging benefitsbyinvolving mega private sectors as well.  The country’s relevant trade zones and conducive investment policies have attracted foreign traders, thereby, increasing the lucrative amount of profit for the development of the region. The open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus has offered a plethora of opportunities to the world to cooperate and invest in multiple dimensions withtheGulf States. The successful efforts by the government in diversifying the economic patterns, have reduced the portion of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP)up to 30% from the oil and gas sector.

The world has become a global village. The countries are more inclined towards cooperation.In this regard, the UAE is further positioning to better take the advantage of globalization. The inclusivetransformative measures taken by the government are credible to highlight. The sustainable development and economic prosperity in various sectors haveresulted as a boon for the UAE and other partner states as well. The drastic measures are being placed in various domains, including the increasingglobalized capital, economy,labor, medical, and technology.Furthermore, in recent times, UAE has effectively tackled the fierce impacts emanated from the Covid-19 crisis and also assisted worldwide countries in combating the pandemic.

The UAE’s Initiatives to Curtail Adverse Impacts of Covid-19:

The novelvirus has impacted everyone globally in an unexpected and unprecedented manner.It has killed and infected millions of people. The virus has impactedthe vulnerable segments of societiesacross the globe.

In the wake of COVID-19, the dynamic leadership of the UAE has demonstrated high levels of commitment and power in curbing the spread of the pandemic both locally and globally and has effectively relied on its efficient bureaucracy and stable governance systems. Presently, the grand vaccination program to protect people from the virus has started globally. The substantial initiativestaken by the UAE federation to terminate and eradicate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, are coordinated through its National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA), in close partnership with a wide range of federal and local government institutions, which includes the United Nations System, and other regional and international partners. These efforts are multi-sectoral in nature, including efforts to boost capacities of the health sector in the UAE and abroad, enact a range of policy measures to provide liquidity and economic incentives for the private sector, and other measures intended to reduce the hardships felt by individuals as a result of the pandemic across all the seven states within UAE.

To combat the virus, the successful process of vaccination has also been initiated in the UAE. The Gulf Stateshave approved the American Pfizer-BioNTech, RussianSputnikV, and Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccines for mass use. It has also provided over 1,277 metric tons of aid to 107 countries, supporting more than 1.2 million medical professionals in the process.Right from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the authorities have enacted several measures to limit the spread of the virus. Since the global vaccination process has started, UAE is witnessing a great deal of success in recovering from the adverse impacts of this contagious virus.  In 2020, the authorities started to gradually reopen the shopping centers and other businesses and subject to appropriate social distancing requirements. Moreover, they have also began facilitating the repatriation of foreign workmen who were eager to return to their native countries. Several airlines have resumed a limited number of regular passenger flights and the authorities have also resumed issuing visas to foreign visitors and international tourists. Consequently, the government has also gradually reopened some cultural landmarks to visitors. Issuance of employment visas for vital government and semi-government sectors, as well as entry permits for domestic workers, have also been the top priority of the UAE government.

Furthermore, Abu Dhabi authorities have announced that they will resume all touristic, cultural, economic and entertainment activities in quick span of time.As per an analysis, approximately, 8 percent of the UAE’s population has been vaccinated.  It is expected that in coming two months, half of the population will be vaccinated.In this regard, it is expected that Dubai and the UAE are likely to be the “biggest beneficiary” due to easy access to vaccines. Moreover, the Dubai Expo’s rescheduled opening in October 2021 has also bright prospects of further strengthening and improving tourism this year as the Covid-19 immunization program moves forward.

Perhaps nothing can describe the UAE government’s inspiring efforts like His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He explained the federation’s collective efforts as:

“During this crisis, the UAE has shown to the world that it is a single cohesive team, one family moving in unison to overcome the exceptional circumstances thatwe are currently facing. We are truly blessed to live on this safe land and we thank God for this spirit of solidarity and this sturdy and collaborative nation.”

Therefore, it is no surprise that UAE is looking set for a V-shaped economic recovery in 2021under the auspices of its successful management of to combat the pandemic, alongside the rapid development of vaccines as mentioned above. Similarly, and The World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have also projected a positive course for the bloomingeconomy of the UAE, following with rapid growth and substantial measures in developing the vaccine andthe subsequent swift implementation programs. According to an anticipation of the IMF, the UAE economy is has grown 1.3% in 2021, while the World Bank has predicted 1% GDP hike in this year.This highlights a great turn for UAE’s rise in economy and future trajectory.

Vision 2021 of the UAE:

The UAE’s government has taken well structure policy ramifications to revamp the economy from the devastating impacts of the virus. Moreover, the government has introduced grand vision 2021 for inclusive economic development and security. This includes major six sectors:

  1. Advanced healthcare system.
  2. World-class education system.
  3. Sustainable framework for environment and upgraded infrastructure.
  4. Cohesive society and preserved identity.
  5. Public friendly strategies andfair judiciary.
  6. Competitive and inclusive economy.

For paving the way for smooth execution of these initiatives and prospects in real, the present UAE government has successfully neutralized the COVID-19 pandemic’s venomous effects and has made sure there are no roadblocks in the way of their ambitious socio-economic goals.

Conclusion:                                                         

In the wake of the vicious blows from the rampant and ever-spreading coronavirus pandemic, the current dynamic leadership of the United Arab Emirates has set an excellent precedent for combating this contagious virus, which will serve as an enlightening model for other countries that desire to cruise towards an era of economic prosperity and well-being which is free of COVID-19. For this, it is imperative that all countries closely examine the successful fight against the pandemic from the shores of the UAE.