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Gulf Cooperation Council: Mobility Related Constraints Essay

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Updated: Jun 6th, 2022

As the Coronavirus spreads around the world, countries take measures to limit its expansion. Migrant-Rights.org (2020) reports that some of the GCC states have already “banned the entry of nationals from several origin countries.” This step is believed to protect citizens from getting infected and deter the spread of the Covid-19. However, I believe that such restrictions could negatively influence the economics of the countries. Moreover, the majority of blue-collar workers in the region cannot afford to stay at home and stop working, as they have to earn money to survive.

Is it possible to save economics and keep the restrictive measures at the same time? Gulf Business (2020) notes the impact of Covid-19 on mobility in the Gulf countries and announces that Google has revealed the reduction in mobility in the region. First, the restrictions influenced the attendance of parks as well as retail and transit segments. The pharmacy and grocery segment and residential mobility are least impacted. In my opinion, these measures are essential despite possible economic consequences. It is a difficult task for all countries now to balance economic and health interests.

Is it the right time to allow people to go out? The Washington Post (2020) reports that Oman, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have eased restrictions due to Ramadan. This step led to the rise in the number of people tested positive for Covid-19. I consider that this should serve as an example of what can happen if all countries lift restrictions. Obviously, it is too early for some countries to override a lockdown, and it is better to wait until the situation with the Coronavirus improves.

What is the right policy during the pandemic? According to Al Arabiya English (2020), Oman has closed its borders and decided to put all people entering the Sultanate on quarantine. It has closed all public places, banned public gatherings, including funerals and weddings. Moreover, cruise ships are not allowed to dock in Oman’s ports anymore. It has also been reported that the state has suspended tourist visas. In light of recent events, this strategy seems to be reasonable and justified.

Can a lockdown be lifted in the GCC countries, or is it too early? Oxford Business Group (2020) also communicates about the relaxation of restrictions in the GCC states. Dubai has lifted a strict lockdown and allowed restaurants and shopping centers to work at 30% capacity. The government of Saudi Arabia is easing curfews in regions. On May 6, Qatar allowed entrance to Doha’s Industrial Area with certain limitations. I believe that it may be a short-sighted step to ease restrictions now as it can result in the rise in infections.

Is it safe to lift the restrictions and allow international flights? On April 9, Brookings (2020) announced that Gulf countries introduce further limits because of the increase in the reported infections. Previously, the Saudi government imposed a lockdown on Jeddah, Riyadh, Medina, and Mecca. Kuwait imposed a curfew and stopped commercial flights. As of March 29, Oman also suspended international as well as internal flights. It seems that the imposed measures are too early to be canceled as the Coronavirus pandemic is covering more and more countries each day. If the flights are allowed, it may lead to the rise in imported cases and further spread of the virus.

References

(2020). Al Arabiya English. Web.

(2020). Migrant-Rights.Org. Web.

GCC News Roundup: Further restrictions imposed in Gulf States as COVID-19 cases increase. (2020). Brookings. Web.

. (2020). Oxford Business Group. Web.

(2020). Gulf Business. Web.

. (2020). The Washington Post. Web.

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