Shop owners in one of Dubai’s oldest commercial districts have said business is gradually returning to normal.
Customers are flocking to Meena Bazaar for Eid Al Adha shopping.
The Bur Dubai market traditionally comes to life each year during religious festivals, such as Eid and Diwali, but the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions have affected business.
Stay-at-home orders last year also caused hundreds of shops across the market to close down temporarily.
However, with more residents and tourists visiting the district for bargains on traditional Pakistani and Indian garments, textiles, gold, watches and handbags, traders said business had turned around in the past three months.
Eid Al Adha, they said, would give the shops a much-needed boost in sales.
“The ready-to-wear area in the bazaar is doing really well this Eid. There are so many customers there,” said Jitendra Dadlani, manager of Regal Fabrics in Meena Bazaar.
“There’s definitely an improvement from last year. In the past few months, we have been seeing more customers.
“For Eid Al Adha, we’ve had about 15 customers walk in just today, asking about where they can find ready-to-wear clothing and we pointed them in the right direction. That’s a great sign that things are getting better.”
Mr Dadlani said business would improve further once flights from South Asian countries resumed.
Inbound flights from India have been banned by the UAE government since April, and those from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh since May.
“I’m waiting for the flights to reopen and then we will see business grow even more,” Mr Dadlani said.
Arif Akhtar, the manager of Neeru’s – a clothing store with 72 branches across India - said its shop in Dubai received about 15 customers a day.
He said business had improved.
“The rush is there, but some stores are still empty. It is still better than last year. Diwali in November was really good and we’re slowly seeing things get better,” Mr Akhtar said.
“As more customers come in, we’re making sure all safety measures are in place, such as wearing of masks and social distancing."
While business is improving, some traders said it was not like it used to be, when the district would be packed with hundreds of tourists and residents haggling for deals.
Tourist arrivals have rebounded in the Emirates over the past few months, but the retail industry is still feeling the effects of the pandemic.
“There’s a moderate rush during this Eid,” said Tariq Qazi, owner of Wonder Range clothing store.
“Tourist numbers are low, so it’s not as busy as it used to be before the pandemic. Things will get better once the pandemic is over.”