Dubai replaced the head of its health department Sunday after the Middle East’s tourism and commercial hub reimposed some coronavirus restrictions amid the worst surge of infections since the pandemic began.
United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also ruler of Dubai, appointed Awad Saghir Al Ketbi as director general of the Dubai Health Authority, according to the Dubai Media Office. No specific reason was given for the change. He replaced Humaid al-Qutami, who held the position since 2018.
The U.A.E., a federation of seven emirates including Dubai, has reported more than 3,000 new cases daily over the past two weeks. That is more than triple the rate recorded last spring, when authorities suspended international flights, closed malls, beaches and restaurants and imposed a nighttime curfew.
This time around, Dubai has stayed open, hosting alcohol-fueled holiday brunches and welcoming European tourists to escape winter lockdowns back home for the Persian Gulf emirate’s beaches and party scene.
Yet in the past month a rise in infected tourists returning home prompted Britain and Israel to require travelers returning from the U.A.E. to enter quarantine, ending country-specific loopholes. Denmark suspended incoming flights last week over concerns about testing, and neighboring Oman has closed its land borders for two weeks.