Coronavirus: Business as usual for Chinese restaurants in Dubai
Chinese-centric markets and restaurants in the UAE are giving mixed reviews.
While globally businesses are feeling the effects of the fast-spreading Coronavirus outbreak, Chinese-centric markets and restaurants in the UAE are giving mixed reviews in terms of experiencing a slump in sales and imports.
Ambarish Gali, in charge at authentic Chinese restaurant New Shanghai in Dubai, said:
"Around 90 per cent of our customers are Chinese and we haven't seen any drop in our customers. It is business as usual for us. However, we have received orders from our regional office to take the necessary precautions and hence our kitchen staff is using masks and have been advised to wash their hands after every half an hour or so. But there has been no drop in our customers, mainly Chinese, and we haven't experienced any slump in sales."
Towing the line, Lily Hoa Nguyen, owner and executive chef of Vietnamese Foodis, said:
"Most of our customers are Europeans or pan-Asians, such as Koreans, Japanese and Indians. So, we really haven't seen any negative effect on our sales or number of customers at both our branches after the coronavirus outbreak".
When asked about any precautionary measures taken by the restaurant, Nguyen said:
"Since we did not receive any instruction from the municipality or ministry about wearing a mask in restaurants or kitchens, we haven't made it mandatory for our staff. Also we do not want to create a panic among the community and our customers by starting to wear masks without instructions from the authorities."
However, with China being the leading trade partner of the UAE, some of the supermarkets and hypermarket chains are feeling the pinch in terms of imports of certain fruits and vegetables from China.
Kamal Vachani, director of Al Maya group that has over 50 supermarkets across Dubai, said: "There is a shortage of ginger and garlic and since the local suppliers have no stock, they are relinquishing old stocks, which are very limited and is almost over. No new stock of these vegetables is coming and also we are experiencing a shortage of Fiji apples which are imported from China and are now out of stock. However, local suppliers are finding alternative supplies from India and Thailand now."
An official at LuLu Hypermarket said that although currently there is no shortage of ginger and garlic or other stocks from China as we have all those already at the warehouse. But of course, till this time, uncertainty continues due to the deadly virus outbreak and we are looking at alternative supplies from India, Thailand etc."
However, a leading mall for Chinese products in Dubai wore a deserted look, that too on a Friday afternoon when it is usually packed with customers. Shopkeepers a said their businesses had been affected as customers are reluctant to visit there due to the virus scare. "It is quite unusual to see the mall so empty on a Friday and we just hope situation gets back to normal and customers return soon. Otherwise, the impact on our businesses would be detrimental," a shopkeeper said.
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