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COVID-19 Update, first week of May in MENA region

UPDATE STATUS: 06.05.2020 - 21:00 CET

As coronavirus pandemic continues to spread through the Middle East, few countries such as UAE, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are beginning to partially lift the lockdown.  They are gradually returning to normal life after the forced & strict measures but remained on high alert and keeping strict health precautions to avoid a new wave of infections.

While observing social distancing and wearing masks is mandated, some countries are going ahead and partially reopening their malls & shopping centres, barbershops, restaurants and hotels (with restrictions)

The rapid spread of the coronavirus and the restrictions imposed did hurt both oil and non-oil dependent sectors. Gulf states are revising their forecasts, and some are expecting 0% growth this year.

United Arab Emirates

Most of the reported cases were identified in high populated labour camps. This week researchers started to monitor coronavirus levels in municipal sewage to track Covid-19 among the general population.

Mid-April, a first field hospital was opened at the Dubai World Trade Centre with the capacity to handle 3000 cases. End of April, three other field hospitals were opened, including a 1,000-bed one at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre in the capital, 1,200 beds at the Emirates Humanitarian City in Abu Dhabi and third with 1,200 beds to be located at the Dubai Parks and Resorts.  

Earlier May, announcement made for four new field hospitals in the Northern Emirates located at the Sharjah Expo Centre, Sheikh Khalifa Hall in Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah Exhibition Centre and Fujairah Exhibition Centre raising capacity to more than 5000 beds.

UAE is opening malls and key shopping places from noon to 9 pm on a city-by-city basis and to a limited number of customers.

Last Monday, the new dates for global mega-event EXPO was approved by the International Exhibition Committee (Paris) with the change of dates starting 1st October 2021 till 31 March 2022

Emirates Airlines is working closely with the UAE Government and Global Aviation Authorities to gradually return to a fuller schedule as soon as circumstances allow. Authorities is expecting to resume welcoming tourists by July.

urrently, UAE is working on several projects across the country implementing drive-in cinemas.

Saudi Arabia Saudi marked down geographical & populated areas like Jeddah, Mecca and Medina where there’s a high chance of huge spread. They had to deal with these cities by implementing preventive measures and then treated as a concentrated area. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has decided to reopen retail and wholesale trade stores between 29 April and 13 May given the holy month of Ramadan.

Jordan In Jordan has been full resumption of economic activity and public transport. However, several sectors will remain closed, including places of social gathering like cinemas, cafes and restaurants, places of worship, schools and universities.

The government has also introduced a law requiring everybody to comply with social distancing by keeping 1.5m away from other people when outside the home, and by wearing gloves and a mask when entering public places such as government buildings, shops, companies and health centers. Failure to comply with these rules is punishable by a fine.

Oman Oman extended for the second time lockdown for Muscat until May 29 as the country ramps up its efforts to curb the outbreak

Authorities ended control checkpoints earlier set up to restrict movement among Oman’s provinces. Some businesses were also allowed to reopen.

Kuwait: This week it was announced the extension of shutdown till Thursday, May 28.

Starting May 12, Gulf Air will operate flights from Kuwait to London Heathrow via Bahrain.  Qatar Airways is currently operating outbound flights from Kuwait to Doha with connecting flights to Europe & the Americas.

Bahrain Starting 3rd May, commercial and industrial businesses in Bahrain that provide goods or services directly to customers can resume their usual operations as long as they meet strictly with guidelines. Grocery stores were requested to designate the first hour of operation for the elderly and pregnant women. Bahrain has opened another field hospital on a man-made island located off its east coast.

Egypt: Egyptian Government is converting more clubs, hotels and universities into quarantine facilities.

4th May, authorities started to review plans with the possibility to extend night-time curfew for additional 15 days.

Egyptian Medical council proposed a model to upgrade training and qualification of pharmacists and get licensed as community doctors to help fighting the pandemic, this is still under review and discussion.


Article by: Jamil Juma, Regional Manager MENA & CIS For more details please, any specific queries or further details on the topic kindly email to

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