Dubai malls, businesses to ‘fully operate’ from Wednesday

People shop at The Dubai Mall, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates March 12, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 02 June 2020

Dubai malls, businesses to ‘fully operate’ from Wednesday

  • Dubai had already shortened a nighttime curfew to just seven hours starting from 11 p.m.

DUBAI: Shopping malls in Dubai will fully reopen for business on Wednesday, in the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions, the emirate’s media office announced.
The step makes the glitzy city-state the first in the Middle East to drop nearly all restrictions to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus that hit retailers and leisure activities.
Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, had already shortened a nighttime curfew to just seven hours starting from 11 p.m. (1900GMT).
Businesses in the private sector had been allowed since last week to work at 50 percent capacity, but the authorities now say they can “fully operate.”
“Shopping malls and private sector businesses in the emirate will fully operate at 100 percent from tomorrow, Wednesday,” the Dubai Media Office tweeted on Tuesday.
Dubai’s shopping centers include the Mall of the Emirates, which has its own indoor ski slope, and Dubai Mall, adjacent to Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure.
“The move aims to ensure the private sector is able to resume normal activity without compromising on preventive steps to protect people’s health and safety,” a media office statement said.
Preventative measures include wearing face masks, maintaining a minimum distance of two meters (around 6 feet) between individuals, and the regular use of hand sanitiser, the statement added.
Dubai has the most diversified economy in the Gulf, relying on trade, retail, tourism and real estate.
Its neighbor Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital, cordoned off the city and banned travel between regions in the emirate for a week starting Tuesday.
The UAE has so far recorded more than 35,000 cases of the COVID-19 respiratory disease, including 269 deaths.


First split opens up in new Lebanon government

Updated 51 min 12 sec ago

First split opens up in new Lebanon government

  • Foreign minister quits over lack of reform, warns of ‘failed state’

BEIRUT: The first major split opened up in Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s barely six-month-old government on Monday when his foreign minister resigned.
Nassif Hitti said there was “an absence of a real will to achieve the comprehensive and structural reform demanded by the national and international community,” and Lebanon was “sliding toward becoming a failed state.”
Hitti was swiftly replaced by Charbel Wehbe, diplomatic adviser to President Michel Aoun and a career diplomat. Wehbe, 67, is a former secretary general of the ministry, and is close to Aoun and his influential son-in-law Gebran Bassil, a former foreign minister 
Lebanon is enduring an economic crash, with the value of its currency plunging. The government has appealed to the International Monetary Fund for billions of dollars in aid, but there has been little progress on the reforms demanded in return for a bailout.
Diab’s administration has also been attacked by its opponents for weak decision-making and depending on dominant forces in the cabinet, most notably Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement. As he resigned, Hitti launched a veiled attack on them.
“I participated in this government on the basis that I have one employer called Lebanon, and I found many employers and conflicting interests in my country, who did not agree about the interest of the Lebanese people and its rescue,” he said.
Hitti was said to be upset by the government’s poor performance, and because it had not carried out any of the pledges it made to the Lebanese people or the international community to root out corruption.
He was also uncomfortable at the growing diplomatic role given to security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim in communicating with some countries at the expense of the foreign ministry. He viewed this encroachment as depleting his “professional and diplomatic credit,” he said.
Government opponents praised Hitti’s courage. “The political forces holding on to the actual power will make Lebanon a failed state,” said Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces Party. “Hitti’s testimony came after a performance that lasted more than six months, and Lebanon’s situation will not settle as long as Hezbollah, the FPM and their allies have authority in Lebanon.”
Marwan Hamade, a member of the Lebanese parliament, said Hitti had “risen up” against the government to join the people and the revolution again. Another MP, Henri Helo, said: “We hope that more follow suit, which paves the way for a new government that meets the Lebanese people’s ambitions.”