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Newsletter 07/2020

A Message from Team Australia | John Cavanagh

 

Dear ABCD members and community,

The OECD has reported we are in the midst of the biggest global downturn since the Great Depression. January 2020 seems another world way from where are now in July watching the news around wide-spread layoffs, including from iconic UAE companies that form the pillars of our business community. 

Both Australia and the UAE have weathered the storm better than most countries, but it is a strange new environment of closed borders, quarantine, reconfigured health system capacity, social distancing, restrictions, testing, and tracing.  We have all learnt a new vocabulary in the last six months and recent developments in Melbourne with another outbreak have shown we cannot be complacent.

It is no exaggeration to say that every Australian, including those overseas like us, has been affected by COVID-19 –some tragically more so than others.  The pandemic feels very personal at the moment, as I am writing this while in quarantine with my family after a close contact tested positive to Coronavirus nearly two weeks ago.  We are fine and will be out in a matter of days but for many people both here in Dubai and in Australia the challenges posed by the virus will be far more profound than two weeks inside or a cancelled overseas holiday.

Australia has lost over 100 billion of economic activity and it will take us at least two years to get back to pre-COVID levels.  To give it a human face, this means approximately a million jobs have been lost, almost 600,000 in April, 227,000 in May, and we will know the June figures by the time this is published.  That represents a lot of heartache and stress back home as people worry about their health, school fees, mortgages, and bills.  That is why in the roughly three months since the pandemic truly started hitting home in Australia, the Federal Government has announced an unprecedented $138 billion in spending measures to support businesses and households.

Despite the UAE Government’s highly capable and impressive COVID-19 response, many people here are also going through immense distress as the impact is felt by businesses, including members of the ABCD.  Home schooling is no joke either and has put more pressure on families.  I liked these tips at healthdirect.gov.au

In the past months the Australian Embassy and Consulate General has focused mainly on assisting Australians in the UAE on issues related to COVID-19 including making sure passports continue to be issued and people affected by the virus received proper care. We are slowly moving back to business as usual.  I urge you to follow updates to the travel advice on https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/, particularly as this would be a time many of us would normally move outside the UAE for school holidays or the summer.

Australia faces an immense challenge as we look to recover from our first recession in three decades and we look forward to our continued strong partnership with the UAE and with the Australians who call UAE home.

John Cavanagh | Deputy Consul-General Dubai and Trade Commissioner                                                                                                                       

Australian Consulate-General Dubai 
Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade)

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