Dentons COVID-19 Retail Tracker - United Arab Emirates




United Arab Emirates

Status – Has any special status been introduced?

Restrictions on travel into Abu Dhabi Emirate from other Emirates, unless proof is provided of a negative COVID-19 test.

Ministerial Resolution No. (281) of 2020 Regulating Remote Work in Private Establishments During the Period of Application of Precautionary Measures to Curb the Spread of Novel Coronavirus (the Remote Work Resolution) was issued on 29 March 2020.

The Remote Work Resolution requires all private establishments (save for those excluded sectors stated below) to minimise the number of workers physically present at their premises to the minimum necessary for business processes, subject to a maximum cap of 30% of the total number of workers. Establishments are also required to minimise the number of customers visiting to 30% of the seating capacity and need to consider other controls, including maintaining safe distances and continuous disinfection of devices and facilities. These requirements do not apply to businesses which operate in the sectors of infrastructure projects, catering, telecommunications, power, health, education, banking, food processing, hospitality, heath supplies manufacturing or cleaning companies.

The Remote Work Resolution imposes additional specific requirements which apply across all industries (many of which are of particular relevance for employers with employees who live in labor accommodation), including:

  • Provide screening points at entrances and take temperatures and check symptoms twice per day. Suspected cases are prohibited from going to work or entering labor accommodation and must be referred to the relevant health authorities.
  • Provide a method for transporting workers to and from the workplace, provided that capacity of vehicles does not exceed 25% of vehicle seating and safe distancing measures are maintained.
  • Ban on gatherings and ceasing all cultural, sporting and social activities at labor accommodations.
  • Minimize the number of workers at accommodation canteens during mealtimes and maintain safe distancing of at least two meters.
  • Report any workers with coronavirus symptoms or suspected cases.

However, the position is different in Dubai. Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management in Dubai, headed by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced that shopping malls and the private sector can operate at 100 per cent capacity starting 3 June 2020. The Committee said private sector employees in Dubai suffering from respiratory conditions and those with compromised immunity are advised to continue working remotely from home. There remains a requirement to strictly follow precautionary measures, including wearing face masks, maintaining a minimum distance of two metres from others, using hand sanitisers and regularly washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.

Which retail units are Open

All retail units are opened provided that the health and security measures are duly taken by the companies and their employees.

Different requirements may apply depending on the Emirate and activity.

For example, in Dubai all bars and restaurants must provide table service (only). Further, from Thursday 21 January 2021 until further notice, hotels and restaurants are prohibited from entertainment activities (e.g. live music).

Which retail units are Closed None
Leases - Have special laws related to COVID-19 been implemented

Numerous stimulus packages announced. The key reliefs for leaseholders in Abu Dhabi and Dubai include:

Abu Dhabi

Government of Abu Dhabi – Ghadan 21 Abu Dhabi Economic Stimulus Package

  • Rebates of up to 20% on rent for restaurant, tourism and entertainment sectors.
  • No individual or commercial real estate registration fees until the end of 2020.
  • No Tawtheeq fees for commercial and industrial activities (only) until the end of 2020.
  • Industrial land leasing fees reduced by 25% for new contracts.

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM)

  • Rent and service charge payments deferred for 2020 for office leases at ADGM Square (signed with AlSowah Square Properties).

Abu Dhabi Judicial Department

  • Rent evictions suspended for two months (March and April 2020).


  • Monthly payment plans for residential rents until the end of 2020.



Government of Dubai – Economic Stimulus Package

  • New economic stimulus package worth AED315 million launched January 2021, taking the total value of business incentives to AED7.1 billion.
  • Extends validity of some prior initiatives for another six months (January 2021 until June 2021).
  • Initiatives include: (a) exempting commercial establishments and hotels that did not benefit from the reduction of sales fees under prior packages; and (b) refunding non-beach hotels and restaurants 50% of the hotel sales fee as well as the Tourism Dirham Fee.
  • Commercial licences can continue to be renewed without mandatory renewal of lease contracts.

Dubai Government

  • Reduction of municipality fees on sales at hotels from 7 percent to 3.5 percent.

Dubai Free Zones Council

  • Postponement of rent payments by a period of up to 6 months.
  • Facilitating instalments for rental payments.
  • Participating free zones include Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority, Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai Development Authority, Dubai South, Meydan City Corporation, and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre.

Dubai Land Department

  • Rent evictions suspended for two months (March and April 2020).

Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZ)

  • 3 months' rent free for retail leases.
  • Postponement of rent for up to 3 months for other commercial leases.
  • These reliefs apply where DAFZ is the landlord.

Dubai Healthcare City (DHC)

  • 3 months' rent free for food and beverage leases.
  • Postponement of rent for up to 3 months for other commercial leases.
  • These reliefs apply where DHC is the landlord.

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)

  • Waiver of rent for 2 months for businesses impacted by mandatory closure requirements.
  • Waiver of outdoor area rents for 3 months for JLT retailers with existing contracts.
  • Postponement of rent for 3 months for flexi desk and DMCC Business Centre tenants plus two-month rent holiday until 31 August 2020
  • Waiver of office sharing permit fees.
  • These reliefs apply from 1 April 2020 until 30 June 2020 (unless stated otherwise) and (for leasing matters) where DMCC is the landlord.

DP World (including JAFZA, National Industries Park and Dubai Auto Zone)

  • Postponement of rent payments for 2 months.
  • Facilitating instalments for rental payments.

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)

  • 3 months' rent free for retail leases (base rent).
  • Postponement of rent for 3 months on a 6-month payment plan for other commercial leases.
  • No refunds of rent payments made prior to 1 April 2020.
  • These reliefs apply from 1 April 2020 until 30 June 2020 (unless stated otherwise) and (for leasing matters) where DIFC Investments Ltd is the landlord.

Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO)

  • Rent free period for retail businesses impacted by mandatory closure requirements.
  • Postponement of rent for up to 3 months for flexi desk and business center tenants.
  • These reliefs apply where DSO is the landlord.


  • Rent holiday for retail and hospitality businesses operating within the Nakheel Malls portfolio, (taking effect when the malls reopen).
  • Rent holiday for small retail businesses operating within Nakheel’s master communities.

Dubai Holding and Meraas

  • An economic relief package amounting to more than AED 1 billion to be implemented on a case-by-case basis.
Employment Packages

Ministerial Resolution No. (279) of 2020 on Employment Stability in the Private Sector During the Period of Application of Precautionary Measures to Curb the Spread of Novel Coronavirus (the Employment Stability Resolution) was issued on 26 March 2020.

The Employment Stability Resolution provides that affected employers shall progressively take the following five steps with the consent of the relevant employee (steps 3, 4 and 5 requiring employee consent):

  1. implement remote working;
  2. grant paid leave;
  3. grant unpaid leave;
  4. temporary salary reduction; and
  5. permanent salary reduction.

A key change introduced by the Employment Stability Resolution is the creation of a "Virtual Labour Market" concept. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation will operate the "Virtual Labour Market" as an electronic and smart system and will issue temporary work permits for those employees who temporally transfer their employment to another employer.

Tax Rebates Dubai Customs will refund 1% of customs duty imposed on imported goods sold locally in the UAE markets which are subject to customs duty at a rate of 5% and which were processed between 15 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.
Selected other COVID-19-related legislation relevant for retail business

UAE Central Bank – Targeted Economic Support


  • AED50 billion from Central Bank funds through collateralised loans at zero cost to all banks operating in the UAE.
  • AED50 billion funds freed from banks’ capital buffers.
  • To facilitate temporary relief (for a period of up to 6 months) from payment of principal and interest on outstanding loans for all affected private sector companies and retail customers.

Cap for contactless transactions increased from AED300 to AED500 (until further notice).


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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