LONDON: British financier, environmentalist and UK government adviser Ben Goldsmith has joined a growing list of public figures to have received a COVID-19 vaccination in the UAE, as the Emiratis look to promote their country as a hub for vaccine tourism.
Goldsmith, 40, traveled to the UAE days before the UK government enforced strict pre-Christmas COVID-19 restrictions ahead of the third lockdown.
He said he and his wife received the Pfizer-BioNTech inoculation at the invitation of a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family.
“We left the UK in mid-December before the new lockdown was even mentioned, and decided not to hurry home, given we were both able to work remotely from abroad,” Goldsmith told The Times.
“When we traveled to the UAE we did not even think about vaccines. We were offered it later and decided to accept the kind offer.”
Political analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla said while the UAE government is focusing on vaccinating its own population, “some visitors who ask to get the vaccination are also attended to selectively.”
He added: “We are seeing rich and not-so-rich people from all over coming to the UAE for vaccination purposes. They are more than welcome.”
The UAE has administered 6,367,861 doses of the vaccine to a resident population of about 10 million, trailing only Israel and the Seychelles for its rate of inoculations.
“What Britain got right and the EU got wrong is to realize there’s not a fixed quantity of vaccines to go round,” Sam Bowman, director of competition policy at the International Center for Law & Economics, told Arab News.
“So while it’s tempting to see this as someone jumping the queue for a vaccine, if it means more money going into the supply of new ones, that should speed up vaccine delivery for all of us.”