A mask-clad tourist photographs a falconer holding a falcon during a visit to the historic Al-Fahidi.
Gulf Today Report
As much of the world tightens lockdowns to stem coronavirus, Dubai has flung its doors open, branding itself as a sunny, quarantine-free escape.
While mask-wearing and social distancing are strictly enforced, life in the tourism-reliant emirate looks much like normal, with its restaurants, hotels and mega-malls open for business.
Images of sports stars and television personalities enjoying life at beach clubs and cocktail bars have flooded social media , sometimes to disapproval back home.
Emirates, which restored its network to about three quarters of pre-pandemic levels, is again operating A380 super-jumbos - the world's largest commercial airliner, ferrying in visitors from Britain and Russia.
Russian tourist, Dmitriy Melnikov, said he came to Dubai because his choices were otherwise limited, with many destinations in partial or full lockdown.
"I am not scared," the 30-year-old told AFP. "If you look at people here, everyone has a mask, and I think it's cool."
Willing to take the risk
With a negative PCR test in their home countries and possibly another upon arrival, depending on the place of departure tourists can freely enter Dubai, where winter temperatures average a pleasant 25 degrees Celsius.
In the Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood in Dubai, mask-clad tourists walk through alleyways, taking pictures of the recreation of life a century ago.
Hand sanitisers and floor stickers warning people to maintain their distance are everywhere, while most restaurants have replaced their menus with digital QR barcodes, that can be displayed on a smartphone.
Andi Pitman, from the US state of Alabama, said it was her first trip abroad since the start of the pandemic.
"We are very excited to be here and a little nervous, but happy to be out again," she told AFP, strolling through Al-Fahidi with her husband and two children.
"None of us have had the vaccine yet, but we have small kids that need to be out and need to see the world, so we're willing to take the risk."
Sophia Amouch, from France said, "Everything is run better here," the 25-year-old told AFP, adding that she felt "safer in dubai, where everyone abides by all the measures."
Evening dresses made of gold mesh, gilded sunglasses and glittering crowns are sparkling again from the windows of Dubai's historic gold souk which was shuttered during the coronavirus lockdown.
The UAE ranks first in the world’s most searched-for destinations globally, showing the most popular holiday destinations for 2021, according to worldwide data analysed by UK-based luxury travel group.
The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has announced the resumption of desert tours and related activities in the emirate with strict implementation of the precautionary measures and guidelines issued for desert tours and Sharjah tour operators.
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