Dubai’s historic gold souk shines again after lockdown
Dubai: Evening dresses made of gold mesh, gilded sunglasses and glittering crowns are sparkling again from the windows of Dubai's historic gold souk which was shuttered during the coronavirus lockdown.
One important element is still missing though, customers.
But for business owners, the reopening of one of the world's biggest gold markets is a vital move towards normality ahead of the autumn tourist season, in a city that prides itself on shop-'til-you-drop experiences.
"Reopening the shops is a big step for us… The main factor here is psychological," said Tawhid Abdullah, chairman of the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group, the industry's main governing body in the emirate.
"We expect that by July or August when the airports reopen… we will regain 50 percent of our business activity," he told AFP.
Dubai styles itself as a regional centre for trade and services, and tourism has long been its lifeblood. It welcomed more than 16 million tourists last year, and was aiming for 20 million this year before the pandemic crippled global travel. The emirate shut down its glitzy shopping malls, upscale restaurants and traditional markets for a month to fight the spread of the virus.
Gulf states have struggled to curb the disease, which spreads easily among large populations of migrant workers living in crowded conditions, and the United Arab Emirates has reported some 19,000 cases, with 203 deaths.
Cloistered in the old trading centre of the wealthy Gulf city, not far from its famous skyscrapers, the gold souk closed on March 24 and reopened under strict social distancing and hygiene rules on April 26. - AFP