04/14/2021, 16.44
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Dubai loosens Ramadan rules to kick start tourism

Restaurants and bars in the emirate are no longer obliged to affix panels or screens to cover those who consume food. Archbishop Hinder: “less strict” rules for the holy month than in the past. 90% of the inhabitants of foreign origin, a substantial portion non-Muslims. Vaccination tourism linked to the pandemic.

Dubai (AsiaNews) - In Dubai the "rules" for non-Muslims during Ramadan are "less strict than in the past"; this also includes "the directive that cancels the obligation imposed on bars and restaurants to hide from view" those who eat - especially foreigners and tourists - during the day in the holy month of fasting and prayer.

Msgr. Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen) and apostolic administrator of the vacant see of northern Arabia (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain) says the decision shows a "slackening" in the application of the rules concerning the Islamic faith and "the attempt to revive an economy and the tourism sector" that have suffered due to the Covid- 19 pandemic.

For the entire period of Ramadan, therefore, restaurants will be able to serve meals - to non-Muslims - without having to hide the tables behind screens or temporary covers, as was the case in the past. The change decided by the leaders of the city-state would be linked to the crisis in services, tourism and the entertainment industry - on which Dubai bases most of its revenues - triggered by the global health emergency. To encourage the influx of people and money, the government has decided to loosen restrictions and bans.

Earlier this week, authorities announced that restaurants no longer have to ask for "special permits" to serve food and drinks during the day, as was customary in the past. In the emirate, 90% of the inhabitants are of foreign origin; of these, a substantial number do not profess Islam and are therefore not required to observe the obligation of fasting (and prayer) from dawn to dusk.

"Restaurants in Dubai - said the Department of Economy (Ded) - can decide independently whether or not to place panels, or to cover the windows". The new rule came into effect yesterday with the start of Ramadan.

In recent weeks, Dubai has tried to gradually reopen, but certainly more quickly and with fewer constraints than the other emirates, the doors to international tourists, easing the restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

The city is a global favorite among destinations for those trying to escape restrictions, lockdowns and curfews, confirming itself as the most open and "liberal" in the entire Gulf area. An approach that emerged in the past when it was "tolerated" - albeit in an unofficial way - the coexistence of unmarried people and the consumption (privately) of alcohol whose "formal ban" has since been lifted.

On the subject of Covid-19, however, some indications of a health nature remain such as the limit to meetings in the same family unit for iftar, the dinner that breaks the daily fast and in the past an occasion for meetings and reunions. The organization of events and gatherings, including visits to friends, is also not recommended, while the use of electronic means for payments and the use of one's own prayer mat inside mosques is recommended.

In the recent past there has also been talk of Dubai for the so-called "vaccine tourism", the possibility of obtaining a dose of the vaccine (especially the Chinese or Russian one), within a stay or a holiday in the emirate.

“There have been rumors of vaccine-related tourism - underlines Msgr. Hinder - but not much emphasis or publicity is given to them.”

“There are still cases of infection – he concludes - but the policy and containment measures are not the same in all the Emirates: in Abu Dhabi, for example, there are greater restrictions than in Dubai".

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