Real Christmas trees find buyers in the desert among UAE expats

A Christmas tree is placed inside a Wafi mall in Dubai, United Arab Emirates December 11, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 24 December 2018

Real Christmas trees find buyers in the desert among UAE expats

  • Buyers can pay anything from 200 dirhams ($54) for a 1.6m (5 ft) tree up to 5,000 dirhams for giant ones
  • Customers still come to the sellers’ trucks though, because “they can actually see the tree"

DUBAI: For over 25 years, expatriates celebrating Christmas in Dubai have been able to buy large, fragrant Christmas trees imported from Canada and the United States — a seasonal treat in the desert Gulf state.
On a sunny day with a cool breeze, a far cry from a white Christmas but typical for winter in Dubai, plant sellers opened up their trucks in the crowded working-class Satwa district.
Buyers can pay anything from 200 dirhams ($54) for a 1.6m (5 ft) tree up to 5,000 dirhams for giant ones.
“Plastic trees don’t affect our business,” said one seller, Gulshan Gafoor. “(With) real ones, you get good smells.”
But prices are rising, buyers said. Two years ago, Monica Wojciechowska, a Polish expat who has lived in Dubai for 17 years, said she bought a tree for 200 dirhams while this year the same size tree costs 450 dirhams.
She tried to bargain, but seller Abdul Sanju had his arguments ready.
“We don’t grow in Dubai, in Dubai we don’t have the climate. If it was in Dubai, I’d sell for 200,” Sanju told her.
Prices have gone up because of custom duties, he said.
When Sanju’s boss Muyinuddin Rafi started his Christmas tree business more than 25 years ago there were only a few shops, but now buyers have more choices as supermarkets and big stores have joined the market.
Customers still come to the sellers’ trucks though, because “they can actually see the tree, know the thickness, know the bushiness,” said Sanju.
As the sun began to set, Bon Chandana, a Sri Lankan hospital worker, came to buy a Christmas tree with his son. In the past, he said, he had spent up to 600 dirhams on trees.
“I want to enjoy and (give) respect to my Jesus, my God,” he said. “I’m a very small person — but (when it comes) to Christmas, very big.” ($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)


Dubai launches economic program for post COVID-19 recovery 

Updated 05 August 2020

Dubai launches economic program for post COVID-19 recovery 

  • “The Great Economic Reset Programme” is part of a “COVID Exit initiative” to help the recovery and reshaping of the economy
  • The economic program will feature analyses of current and future policies

DUBAI: Dubai launched an economic program as part of its efforts to reshape the emirate’s economy for a “sustainable” and “resilient” future post the coronavirus pandemic, the government said. 
The Dubai government partnered with the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) to launch “The Great Economic Reset Programme” as part of a “COVID Exit initiative” to help the recovery and reshaping of the economy, state news agency WAM reported on Tuesday. 
The economic program will feature analyses of current and future policies, research and extensive stakeholder consultation to set the direction and tone of future economic policies, regulations and initiatives.
The government plans to use local and international experts for economies and societies to create growth strategies for the Dubai economy.
The MBRSG held a “Virtual Policy Council,” with global experts and thought leaders to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy and potential policy responses and initiatives. 
Chief economists, senior practitioners and researchers from leading global institutions including the World Bank, joined experts from Dubai Economy and the MBRSG at the first roundtable.
“I believe the triple helix collaboration between public, private and academia stakeholders have always produced the best solutions in the past. In the highly uncertain environment now, extensive collaboration and cooperation between all stakeholders are vital to our future prosperity. The Virtual Policy Council will propose the best approaches Dubai and the UAE can adopt to address the risks and opportunities in the next normal economy,” said Mohammed Shael Al-Saadi, CEO of the Corporate Strategic Affairs sector in Dubai Economy.
“This Virtual Policy Council is a key component of the whole process where global experts and thinkers share their views on the future economy. In this new era, the role of governments in enabling the new economic actors is becoming increasingly central, and Dubai is well-positioned to lead the way with innovative models of growth post COVID19,” said Professor Raed Awamleh, Dean of MBRSG.
The roundtable also discussed the impact of the pandemic on international trade, foreign investment and tourism, as well as the rise of digital globalization.