Is Dubai the Middle East’s hotbed of pleasure, or business, or the coronavirus? Maybe all of the above. The United Arab Emirates city of 3.3 million did very well for itself by lifting travel restrictions last year and welcoming lockdown-weary tourists to party at its beaches and high-end hotels. Some 260,000 fled the U. K. alone, among them soccer stars, influencers, and reality-TV curiosities (causing, The Times of London reports, a social-media backlash).
Thanks to strict rules about social-distancing and mask-wearing, and a quick vaccine rollout, coronavirus infection rates were low and the economy improved. U.A.E.-watchers weren’t surprised. The country, noted The Times, is run like “a giant family business, headed by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He is the kind of chief executive ruler Donald Trump could only dream of being, presiding over a land of liberal financial laws and limited democracy, and his business plan is straightforward: when others zig, zag.”