Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 13 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: UAE entering new stage of pandemic, says Sheikh Mohammed

The return of economic activity has placed a greater emphasis on personal responsibility, as health remains a priority

Related: Analysis shows UAE outbreak under control but public urged to be vigilant

The UAE has entered a new stage of the pandemic when economic activity must resume but people have to be responsible, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said on Sunday.

Speaking at the first Cabinet meeting since government workers returned to their offices, the Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai said employers must put measures in place to protect staff so the "wheel of economy" could turn.

"We have entered a new stage, the stage for gradual return to economic life," he said on Twitter.

"Every person is responsible. All institutions and sectors are involved in protecting their staff. Health will remain a priority and a responsibility. Returning the wheel of the economy is strategic and necessary."

He said the outbreak had made the UAE "stronger, better and faster" and that the next step would require "a new spirit, with different thinking and to work faster with greater flexibility".

"We say to everyone: life is continuing, achievements are ongoing and this experience has made us stronger," Sheikh Mohammed said.

During Sunday's remote meeting, Cabinet members discussed procedures for the return of staff to offices and "the future mechanisms of government work".

The Cabinet formed two task forces: one to simplify and improve government services online, specifically judicial services, and the other to study societal culture to determine what may be needed going forward.

The job of the former task force will be to launch a study on community culture to identify any changes in the values, ethics and behaviour of the UAE community since the outbreak, reported state news agency Wam.

Several cultural programmes will also be implemented to promote positive behaviours and mental health within the community, the Cabinet said.

The ministers approved a policy to automate certain government services to cut down on costs and they formed a team that will be in charge of establishing a comprehensive volunteering system for Emiratis and residents.

The Cabinet ordered a study on internet communication and job automation to create an ideal environment for small and medium-sized enterprises, and to develop applications and online platforms to support remote learning and work.

Another team was formed to support SMEs to develop technologies that will encourage new ways of practising business, including remote meetings and e-signatures, to establish e-platforms for reinforcing government operations and transactions. This team must also revise existing legislation and draft new laws that will support remote communication.

Finally, the Cabinet adopted a resolution to suspend administrative fines related to bank guarantees provided by media sector owners, as part of the government’s incentives to support the country’s economic development.

These measures all seek to prepare the UAE for a post-coronavirus future.

This month, Sheikh Mohammed said changes would need to be made in government as part of those preparations.

At the end of a three-day post-virus strategy meeting, he called for a restructure and said the size of government must be reviewed.

"We may merge ministries … and change bodies," he said at the time.

"Anyone who thinks that the world after Covid-19 will be the same as the one before it is mistaken."

Updated: June 1, 2020 05:25 PM

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