The closure of the events industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic has affected thousands of companies in Dubai, a survey by International Live Events Association (ILEA)’s crisis committee has found.
The study, which conducted a poll of between 200-300 companies in Dubai, found that in total, business lost due to the pandemic amounted to between Dhs2.8bn and Dhs5.5bn, revealed Harmeek Singh, the committee’s spokesperson.
In total, he estimates that more than 2,000 companies working directly within the events industry have been affected, in addition to related businesses such as wedding and tour operators as well as hundreds of freelancers.
The impact on jobs in the sector has also been significant, since on average, a single event supports over 440 jobs – ranging from truck drivers at the venue to inventory managers and promoters.
All events in Dubai were halted in late March as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19. Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) allowed leisure as well as local MICE (meetings and incentives events) to restart in mid September, while international MICE events were allowed to restart from October 1. However, several precautionary measures have to be followed including physical distancing and limited capacity.
The industry has received support from the government – event activity, ticketing, artist permits and fees were waived until the end of September 2020, while other measures, such as the National Creative Relief Programme, were also announced to support certain professionals.
However, if the industry does not become eligible to receive further relief as it reopens, companies with zero income will have to close down leaving those with event contracts with a shortage of suppliers.
“We have put across a plea to the authorities for all government fees including visa, trade licence, etc. to be waived off till Q1 2021,” said Singh.
“The government was providing grants for the freelance sector that has been hit because of the standstill, and we are requesting for that to continue so that the talent could be retained in the region.
“We have also approached the UAE Banking Federation to extend the holiday period for loan installments. Liquidity is a major concern and we are requesting for project financing when the projects start to come to life,” he added.
With events restarting, while the industry is seeing some positive signs, it will take sometime to regain momentum.
“We expect the industry to come back to life with smaller steps by Q1 2021,” said Singh.
“Post-Covid, the events industry will adopt a responsible and a sustainable model for everyone to co-exist in an ecosystem with growth for all. Collaboration will be the mantra to stand firm as one unit, rather than competition [as was the case] before Covid,” he added.