August 1, 2021

Dubai Week

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Luxury Social Distance: The Boat Market Floats in Dubai

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Dubai (AFP)

Visible boats on the edge of Dubai’s “Marina”: As tourists return, Rowdy escapes in these luxury white boats on artificial lakes during these times of epidemics in the Gulf Emirates.

Widely open to tourists from July 2020, the city-emirate attracts visitors with its restaurants and beaches, but even its boats, while social distance is practiced.

Nada has been out at sea four times since the health crisis began. “It’s so close, you are only with your family and friends,” said the 36-year-old Saudi woman who lives in Dubai.

Nada, who has not left Dubai since February 2020, says: “You think you can breathe.

With endless skyscrapers and man-made islands on the horizon, boats are allowed to operate at 70% of their capacity. Rental companies were more interested in this activity.

“When control measures were relaxed and the situation returned to normal, people stayed with family and friends and wanted something safe and secure,” Mohammed al-Saeed told AFP. Royal Star Yachts, director of a charter company.

Residents and tourists alike dream of “traveling”, “relaxing”, to a professional who has worked in the boating industry for eight years.

– “Increased demand” –

These excursions are not cheap: three hours on a 42 meter boat costs up to 18,000 dirhams (approximately 4,000 euros), which is usually shared by passengers on the plane.

Known for its majestic towers and luxury exhibits, Dubai has a very diverse economy that relies heavily on oil. Finance, business and the airport have also developed its tourism sector, with about 16 million visitors a year before the epidemic.

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As the country accelerates its vaccination campaign, visitor visits since the beginning of this year have allowed many business activities to return to the pre-health crisis.

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“I have seen an increase in demand for boat rentals since March 2021 as some restrictions are still in place on hotels and private beaches,” another manager of a boat charter company told AFP.

“At that time we were allowed to run at 50% of our capacity, and customers were very happy to come and have fun with friends and listen to music,” he says.

– “Like being on the terrace” –

At the same time, other services such as food distribution in the middle of the ocean are on the rise.

“Getting on a boat is like being on the terrace when you ‘re away from the world, only with those you believe in,” said Jilan Hers, a Palestinian who has lived in the United Arab Emirates for more than 30 years.

“It’s something you can safely enjoy with the kids, going in the middle of the ocean, participating in water activities and taking a good dive,” he adds.

But control measures such as wearing a mask or minimum reception capacity apply in principle. Authorities have arrested and fined some groups for violating the rules.

Dubai has been a popular destination for sports stars such as footballers Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba or mixed martial arts (MMA) star Conor McGregor. The emirate has also attracted a crowd of influencers.

Photos of celebrities on the side or in cocktail bars have flooded the social media in recent months as many wealthy tourists escaping from locks around the world have taken up temporary residence in Dubai.

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