Nearly 100 shops in Naif market witness surprise visits from inspection officers from the Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection cell of Dubai Economy every day.
While inspections have been a routine for years to ensure regulatory compliance by shopkeepers, this practice has been instrumental in keeping Covid-19 infection numbers low in one of the busiest shopping districts in Dubai.
“Since the start of the pandemic, we have not just been checking the licence agreement of traders but also their adherence to Covid-19 safety protocols. We check if shopkeepers and customers are wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and whether shops have proper signages to make customers aware of Covid-19 safety rules. There have been a handful of non-adherence cases since July in this area,” said Abdulla Husain Al Zaabi, Assistant Inspector, CCCP, who spends seven to eight hours every day in this district inspecting the shops.
On Saturday, when Khaleej Times spent a few hours with the inspection officer, none of the shops were fined.
The objective, Abdulla pointed out, is to raise awareness and ensure people go about doing their business in a safe manner.
“It is not always about slapping fines. We do keep a close eye on all shopkeepers and customers. But we also understand that it is okay for a shopkeeper to take a breather for a few seconds or a minute when he is alone in his shop,” said Abdulla. “But I hardly see people without masks here.”
Oldest shopping district
Naif is among the oldest shopping hubs in Dubai. It was at the start of the pandemic last year that its name truly went global when it became the first of the two districts in Dubai to be put under strict lockdown from March 31 to April 26.
Business has been slowly picking up since July and just like pre-pandemic times, it is once again hard to find a public parking spot in the district.
The rise of mall culture in Dubai hasn’t really affected the popularity of this shopping district for years. From textiles, electronics and home furnishings to stationery, toys, traditional and contemporary wear, it is home to affordable shopping options, catering mainly to African and Asian customers. Naif has always been bustling with pedestrians, loaders, and vehicles, moving freely in the narrow pavements and lanes.
Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread widely in most parts of the world. More than 94 million people have been infected with Sars-Cov-2 virus and more than two million have died. In the UAE, there are 26,962 active cases at present.
Covid fatigue is setting in among communities across the world, leading to complacency and resultant higher numbers of infections. However, awareness campaigns and strict regulations by governments help. The Department of Economic Development is, therefore, committed to continue its daily inspections. The officials reiterated that any violation found during the inspections or reported by the public will not be tolerated.
The public is urged to follow basic safety rules and report any instance of non-compliance through the Dubai Consumer app or by calling 600545555 or by visiting consumerrights.ae.
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