Assess and triage (resilience phase)

The UAE has suffered 42 deaths per million inhabitants, ranking it the 75th hardest hit country in the world out of 150 countries recorded as of 16th September.1

Testing availability:2

  • Residents in Dubai can now get a PCR nasal swab for a reduced price of AED 250 or under in some hospitals and drive-through locations across the city.
  • Prices have come down over the past few weeks as wide scale Covid-19 testing has been stepped up across the country.
  • Previously, the test typically cost AED 370 for individuals. It is still free of charge for those suspected to have contracted the virus as well as those in vulnerable groups.
  • Most testing centres in the city offer walk-in appointments and guarantee results within 24 to 48 hours.

Stabilize and emerge (recovery phase)

Economic recovery:3

  • IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index showed a slowing of growth for the non-oil private sector activity in in August, though still in ‘growth’ rather than ‘contraction’ territory.
  • The index measures a range of quantitative metrics across manufacturing, services (including retail), construction and the wider economy.


Update to Targeted Economic Support Scheme (TESS):4

  • On 8th August the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) relaxed requirements for the liquidity position in banks to support customers in overcoming the pandemic.
  • The purpose of the Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR) and the Advances to Stable Resources Ratio (ASRR) is to underpin stability in funding long-term assets.
  • Their relaxation temporarily enhances flexibility in banks’ balance sheets.

Transport sector:5

  • Emirates airline has announced that staff salaries will be returned to 100% from October despite layoffs in July, at last showing some return on the USD 2bn the government has invested into it since March.
  • The airline continues to increase its capacity, with flights operating to over 80 destinations and an expected return to all 143 destinations by the summer of 2021.
  • Etihad Airways, by contrast, has said that they will continue to pay their staff reduced salaries until the end of this year; albeit at a lower rate. The salary will be cut by just 10%, as opposed to the earlier reduction which ranged between 25% to 50%.

Back to school:6

  • Over a million students have returned to schools across the UAE with strict measures in place to control the spread of the virus
  • Pupils have opted for a blend of remote and in-class lessons: while evaluations of schools’ digital capabilities are positive (see the ‘Adapt and rethink’ section of this newsletter), the consensus among teachers and pupils is that there is no substitute for in-class learning.

Adapt and rethink (new reality)

A knowledge-based economy?7

  • As part of its commitment to boost the initiatives it runs in alignment with the strategic directives of the UAE government, the Ministry of Finance, MoF, announced today the launch of the next phase of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF)
  • This next phase will create an integrated work environment that supports innovation and the UAE’s transition to a knowledge-based economy
  • During this phase, the Emirates Development Bank, EDB, will operate the two programmes of the MBRIF, namely the Innovation Accelerator programme and the Guarantee Scheme, both of which support start-ups and diversify the economy

Distance Learning Evaluation for schools:8

  • Results of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority's (KHDA) Distance Learning Evaluation (DLE) have shown that out of 209 schools in Dubai, 67% were found offering 'developed' e-learning programmes.
  • Out of 173 schools in Abu Dhabi, 146 were found offering 'developed' e-learning programmes, according to the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek).
  • These evaluations were based on three main areas:
  • How well students were learning and how well their wellbeing was safeguarded;
  • How well teachers were teaching and monitoring students' learning;
  • How well school leaders were managing students' learning across the school.

The UN E-government Development Index:9

  • The UAE has been ranked #1 in the GCC (#21 globally) in the E-Government Development Index (EGDI) with an especially developed infrastructure if levels of human capital development (i.e. the scientific education/training of citizens) can be improved.
  • The E-Government Development Index consists of three metrics: online services, telecommunications infrastructure and human capital
  • The UAE is the second-best scoring country in Western Asia (after Cyprus) across the three metrics and ranks the highest on both online services and telecommunication infrastructure, with a lagging score for human capital, for which it lags behind the KSA, Kuwait and Oman as well as several East-Asian countries.
  • For telecommunications infrastructure, the UAE ranks #2 in Asia behind South Korea, an exceptionally strong score reflecting the UAE’s high penetration and activity of mobile subscriptions, the internet and broadband.
  • For human capital, by contrast, the UAE lags behind many of its neighbours, especially due to its low gross enrollment ratio (in schools) and expected years of schooling.
  • Considering these challenges, the government’s investment into distance learning as a result of the pandemic may be the enabler the country needs to rise into the index’s top 20.