Local Business

Digital services aided the UAE in tackling Covid-19 challenges

Rohma Sadaqat /Dubai
rohma@khaleejtimes.com Filed on May 24, 2021
Residents have become much more price conscious and are always on the lookout for promotions, offers, and bundle deals, experts say

Going contactless, cashless, and completely digital with several key services has proved to be a game changer for the UAE as it tackled the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, said Zeina Dagher, CEO of Emaar Entertainment.

Speaking at the ATM Virtual 2021 event, she said that 2020 has been a year of change, reflection, and getting out of unexpected changes in a positive way. “We have gone through tough times and what has been the most challenging thing for us has been the ‘unknown’. The whole world has come through from a standstill, and the entertainment, hospitality, leisure, and airline industries have been the most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. How we have come back from this has been a journey, but we have definitely come out stronger.”

Keeping the reduced number of tourists in mind, she explained how Emaar had to change its strategy. “With very little tourists in the country, we had to completely shift the way that we work in terms of our marketing, operations, and ticket pricing. Residents have become much more price conscious; they are always on the lookout for promotions, offers, and bundle deals. We had to look at how we could offer move value to our customers. Our strategy was always to upsell the offerings in our portfolio.”

“Our bigger focus right now is residents and how we can reach residents, whether this means working on a bigger picture with Emaar Malls and Emaar Hospitality to create staycations that bundle hotel stays with various attractions, or whether we bundle shopping vouchers with leisure attractions. This is our outlook, but through it all, we have to remember that we have to work within government regulations to ensure safety.”

The UAE leadership, she noted, has been a global leader is the way that it has tackled the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Yes, we are still operating below our full capacity and with several restrictions in place, but people understand and respect the safety measures in place because they are eager to go about business as usual; they want to get out and experience and enjoy things again.”

“We are hoping that from now until the end of the year, things will ease further because the rate at which the people in the UAE are getting vaccinated is among the highest in the world. These, she said, are healthy signs of recovery that will fuel more visitors to get the confidence to resume their travel plans to the UAE,” she said.

Dagher also touched on the role that technology had played in the safety measures that were adopted throughout the pandemic. “Everything right now is mostly, or in many cases, completely cashless, ticketless, and touchless. People want to minimize how much they interact with people and at different points in the system such as ticket counters. We have scaled up our digital e-services for guests so that they can book online and reserve seats in restaurants, cinemas, and at attractions. We have also seen a lot of people more interested in outdoor activities and attractions.”

Looking ahead, she noted that a big challenge is to identify key markets and curate experiences for them. “There are lots of factors that we have to take into account. India has always been a key market for us, but with the rising number of cases, that corridor is blocked. The European market has still not opened completely either. We may have everything ready on our end, but a destination might have its own set of rules and regulations that make travel impossible. These are all considerations that we have to make in real time and which create situations that change in an instant.”



Rohma Sadaqat

I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.

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