Dubai's event venues spring back to life for the vaccinated

Saman Haziq and Dhanusha Gokulan/Dubai
Filed on May 21, 2021
Guests at a restaurant in Dubai. — Photo by SHihab

Several venues are already packed with bookings for weddings, corporate functions and social events

In the coming days, you can be attending your best friend’s wedding in Dubai or buying front-row tickets to the concert of your favourite band — that is if you are fully vaccinated.

Live event venues and wedding halls in the emirate are springing back to life, nearly four months after safety measures were tightened because of Covid-19.

Since May 17, Dubai has permitted community sports events, concerts and social events like gala dinners and award ceremonies — provided that all staff and attendees have been vaccinated.

Under the latest guidelines, for indoor events, attendance has been limited to 1,500 and 2,500 for outdoor events. Wedding parties can also be held, with guests capped at 100 at hotels and venues and 30 for those at home. The relaxed restrictions shall be enforced for a trial period of one month (extendable).

Since the announcement was made, hotels, restaurants, and other properties have been bombarded with calls and enquiries.

At several venues, calendars are now packed with bookings — from weddings to corporate functions and social events.

Anoop Dhondoo, cluster general manager for Novotel World Trade Centre, ibis One Central and ibis World Trade Centre, said they some of their venues across the three hotels have already been booked for the next few weeks.

“Our reservations and F&B team have observed a significant increase in the volume of enquiries,” Dhondoo said.

The popular India Palace has also started blocking dates. Rohith Muralya, director of the restaurant, said: “Currently we have started asking clients to ensure all guests are vaccinated at the time of booking. We are glad to hear this news as we have not been able to host any such gathering since Covid-19 pandemic began.”

While most sectors have suffered considerably amidst the pandemic, the live events industry was among those hit the hardest.

A study by International Live Events Association’s crisis committee on 200-300 companies in Dubai found that in total, business lost due to the pandemic amounted to between Dh2.8 billion and Dh5.5 billion, the committee’s spokesperson Harmeek Singh revealed in October last year.

But the revised rules brought hope.

“This is news the entire hospitality industry has been waiting for,” said Mansour Memarian, hotel manager of Palazzo Versace Dubai.

“Banquets and food and beverage have always been big revenue generators for hotels, hence the announcement allows us to better prepare for the summer months.”

He added: “With live entertainment back, UAE residents and tourists will once again be able to enjoy the lively Dubai that we all know and love.”

Timothy Earnest, group director at Al-Futtaim Malls, said the latest regulations are a testament to the robust effort of the UAE government and health authorities.

“We are excited to be able to welcome more visitors to shop from hundreds of brands across our malls, indulge in over 80 dining options and enjoy entertainment at Festival Bay including IMAGINE, the laser, light and water show. Together with the InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City, we are putting together a robust plan of activities for guests coming into Dubai for the rest of 2021,” said Earnest.

Hoteliers, event organisers and everyone in the industry vowed to strictly observe all the safety rules laid down in the revised guideline.

Ensuring that all staff and guests are vaccinated is a top priority.

Electronic vaccination card or the Al Hosn app will mainly be used as proof that one has been vaccinated.

“All staff have been briefed/trained to check the Al Hosn app for the local vaccine updates,” said Dhondoo.

“For people living outside the UAE, the staff have been tasked to checked their respective vaccine certificates,” he added.

At Palazzo Versace, receptionists at re-opened bars and venues would ask for guests’ vaccination cards as they enter. They will have to show their vaccination status on the government’s official app.

“To avoid any discontentment and miscommunication, we are also informing guests of this requirement beforehand upon making the reservation,” Memarian added.

When it comes to staff, almost the entire workforce of hotels and restaurants have already been vaccinated long before restrictions were eased.

Beyond jabs, all other hygienic standards and precautionary measures are observed — from disinfecting the premises and ensuring hand sanitisers are readily available to spacing seats and tables for social distancing and placing ‘wear your mask’ reminders within their premises.

“We have introduced intensified hygiene and prevention measures to ensure safety since mid of last year. The ALLSAFE label on our hotels represent our new elevated cleanliness protocols and standards which is fully implemented in our hotels,” Dhondoo said.

David Allan, cluster general manager at Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Waterfront, Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Canal View and Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah, added: “We have been preparing our team throughout the past months and are proud to say that as all our employees are vaccinated. Our highest priority remains the health and safety of our guests and employees. We will continue to put a major emphasis on cleanliness and safety and look forward to welcoming back our guests.”

At Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek, staff members have been busy with refresher sessions on safety protocols and all government requirements. “We’re committed to ensuring we maintain our reputation of excellence and creating memorable moments as we begin to welcome wedding guests again,” said general manager Jan Hanak.

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