New virtual working programme incentivises people living abroad to relocate to Dubai where they can continue to work remotely for their companies.

On January 21, 2021, Dubai announced an immediate halt to all live music and shows at hotels and restaurants as coronavirus cases surged to unseen heights over recent weeks.
On January 21, 2021, Dubai announced an immediate halt to all live music and shows at hotels and restaurants as coronavirus cases surged to unseen heights over recent weeks. (AP)

With peak tourism season in full swing and coronavirus infections surging to unprecedented heights, UAE is calling on overseas professionals who work remotely to relocate to Dubai city where they will get free vaccines.

Dubai's new virtual working programme for digital workers began in October which it said was "all about remote working with unrivalled connectivity and top co-working spaces."

The city has now added free Covid-19 vaccine to its plan to attract foreigners. 

"With a new one-year virtual working programme, you can live and work by the beach," said the Visit Dubai website.

 "An added benefit of the programme is that all UAE residents receive Covid-19 vaccinations free of charge," it said.

The virtual working programme is valid for one year and costs US$287 including medical insurance with valid UAE coverage and processing fee per person, the website said.

The programme also grants subscribers access to all the standard services that UAE residents benefit from, including telecoms, utilities, and schooling.

Signs of strain

Last week, Dubai's tourism department announced an immediate halt to all live entertainment at hotels and restaurants, after suspending non-urgent surgeries at hospitals to deal with an influx of Covid-19 patients.

Both decisions come after months of Dubai promoting itself as the ideal pandemic-friendly vacation spot while coronavirus infections skyrocketed. 

Now, the sheikhdom is showing signs of strain.

Even as cases have surged to previously unseen heights in the Arab country, the city-state of Dubai has sought to be a glimmering desert oasis for tourists fleeing tough lockdowns back home. 

Since reopening in the spring, the commercial hub has resisted more restrictions that would pummel its economy, built largely on aviation, hospitality, and retail.

But analysts say the virus has shaken the foundations of the city-state's economy.

With its cavernous malls, frenetic construction, and legions of foreign workers, Dubai was built on the promise of globalisation, drawing largely from the aviation, hospitality, and retail sectors — all hard hit by the virus.

"Dubai's economy is a house of cards," said Matthew Page, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Its competitive advantage is being a place where rules don't apply."

Speeding immunisation campaign

On Sunday, the ruler of Dubai replaced the head of the emirate's health authority without explanation, in the midst of an immunisation drive and a spike in infections.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum appointed Awad Saghir al Ketbi as the new director-general of the Dubai Health Authority, replacing Humaid al Qutami.

The number of daily coronavirus cases in the UAE, a federation of seven emirates, has tripled in the past month.

UAE has ramped up its immunisation campaign with the aim of vaccinating more than 50 percent of its roughly 9 million population before the end of March.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies