Coronavirus: UAE hotel apologises after staff turn away Chinese guests

Rixos Bab Al Bahr denied access to a Chinese group, while in a separate incident Chinese citizens were asked to leave an Audi car showroom in Dubai

A luxury hotel resort has apologised to a group of Chinese guests who said they were turned away over the coronavirus outbreak.

Rixos Bab Al Bahr said it regretted an incident in which Chinese citizen Fei Jiang and four others were denied access to the Ras Al Khaimah resort.

Fei Jiang, 37, who has lived in the UAE for 11 years, said she was told to get a blood test to prove she was healthy to stay at Rixos on Wednesday last week.

“The staff said they had a letter from authorities not to accept Chinese visitors but when I asked them to show it, they did not,” said Ms Fei, who had made a two-day reservation with her brother and two friends.

The government has issued no such order to businesses or retailers. On the contrary, the UAE has issued statements of support for China and continues to have flights arriving from Beijing.

“It was horrible. I felt like crying,” said Ms Fei, a former airline employee.

“We explained many times that we are Dubai residents, we are not tourists and we have not visited China. But we were told we had to leave or security would be called.”

The hotel's general manager has since called her to apologise, explaining the action was not hotel policy.

“Due to the evolving situation in China and, in line with Ministry of Health guidelines, hotel staff have been advised to be vigilant. However, this position was misconstrued yesterday by a member of the hotel team,” Rixos manager Horst Walther-Jones said in a statement.

“Rixos continues to welcome everyone - regardless of race or nationality - to enjoy the hotel facilities and the diverse tourism offering of the emirate.”

Ms Fei said she was upset because of how they were singled out.

“I really never thought I would be told to get out of the hotel and that Chinese were not allowed because I know the UAE respects Chinese people,” she said.

Since coronavirus emerged from Wuhan, killing at least 800 people and infecting more than 37,000 worldwide as of Sunday, Chinese citizens internationally have reported being discriminated against.

In another case, Yolanda Niu, a Chinese marketing executive, and her friends said they were asked to leave the Audi Al Nabooda showroom in Dubai on Sunday.

A security guard initially asked the three residents to step outside the showroom for 10 minutes and then prevented them from re-entering.

“When I asked the guard whether it was because we were Chinese, he said the manager said it was because of the virus,” said Ms Niu, who works with a property company and has lived in Dubai for five years.

Ms Niu, 24, said she visited other showrooms and had not been turned away.

After taking to Twitter and sending emails to register her discontent, Audi Al Nabooda Automobiles responded saying they “apologised unreservedly" that Ms Niu and her group felt unwelcome.

The company concluded it was “miscommunication based on our security guard speaking in his second language”.

The company said: “In this case a customer was turned away and that should simply never happen.

"We apologise unreservedly to Yolanda and the group she was with who felt unwelcome that day.

"This goes against everything we stand for and we will ensure the individual who made this mistake understands the importance of communicating clearly with customers so that there is never a misunderstanding like this again."

The UAE government has said it supports China and was confident the country would control the spread of the virus.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation offered full co-operation to ensure availability of medical supplies to China.

Last week, Burj Khalifa and several landmarks across the UAE lit up in red in solidarity with China.

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