Influencers in Dubai aren’t bending coronavirus rules, they are writing their own

Those who conveniently fail to spot the difference between travelling for work and working while on holiday need a reality check

Amy Nickell
Thursday 14 January 2021 18:08 GMT
Some are alienating their followers with insensitive posts during the pandemic
Some are alienating their followers with insensitive posts during the pandemic (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Perhaps the most unexpected side effect of the pandemic has been watching “Covid Casablanca” Dubai become Head Office for anyone making their living as an influencer.

People in the UK are dying in record numbers, businesses are folding leaving their owners at a loss to pay their mortgages while employees of major companies continue to work at home.

Across the country flatmates have worked from home squished round their dining room tables since March, while working parents once again are juggling home schooling with full time jobs.

This weekend, restrictions are expected to increase again, which could mean takeaways will close as well as businesses like estate agents and markets.

And yet, if you are rich and have a social media following of 100k + it appears you think the rules do not apply and you can jet off to HQ Dubai – just as long as you remember to pack your laptop.

On Christmas Day, TOWIE star Yazmin Oukhellou posted photograph herself (almost always herself, almost never with anyone else) working hard pouting next to a Santa, no mask, no social distancing.

However, her boyfriend, fellow entrepreneur, James Lock did upload a picture of what seemed to be a spreadsheet on his laptop screen as he lounged by the pool in a pair of magical sunglasses that I know I would have appreciated when I tried to use my laptop outdoors in the summer.

“We are here for work purposes, for business,” Yazmin explained, adding: “Obviously we’ll make the most of it while we’re here as well.”


While the average UK citizen can’t go down certain aisles in their local supermarket, the stars of Geordie Shore can ring in the New Year, some necking shots and dancing mask-free, as it’s business as usual over in Dubai.

‘F*** 2020!’ Chloe Ferry shouted for the fans watching at home holed up in quarantine away from their families with no one but Jools Holland for company.

On the day that a woman was fined for travelling 10 miles to speak to her elderly mother through the window of her care home, the reality star showed fans round her dedicated Dubai “spon room” where she conducts her business of selling laxatives to teenagers.

The essential business of an influencer is often flogging stuff to impressionable people via the medium of filtered and Facetuned photos of their excessively cosmetically enhanced bodies and faces.

For clarity, their overpaid work is not specific to Dubai and their line of work is often as fake as their lips and boobs.

These stars could plug Toilet Duck from their downstairs loo and would receive their big bucks from the brand thanks to their instant captive audience.

Appearing on a hit reality show gets you social media followers and boom, just like that, you have influence for as long as you have followers.

Which is presumably why none of them will be put off travelling while they can quarantine for 10 days after arriving back in the UK.

Close the borders, and I’m sure Chloe Ferry can “spon” her new false eyelashes at home in Newcastle.

But Dubai is lovely this time of year and full of restaurants that are not only open but that offer gold leaf steak, so why not?

Meanwhile, Dubai cases are rising and have spiked considerably since December with the fine for a flouting the rules being £500 – probably around half a post of a new sandal to some influencers.

As their following struggle to adjust to months more of restrictions, and finances have been hit hard it’s insensitive at best morally bankrupt at worst to even be sharing any needless sponsored content at all.

If you want to take a look from their aforementioned “business perspective”, these stints in Dubai are alienating their following, who are growing increasingly frustrated and confused in the comments sections of their posts from the Emirate state.

Love Island’s Laura Anderson recently spoke of her plight, pleading with fans that the life of a globetrotting, bikini sporting, cocktail sipping influencer is “hard” and she deserves our sympathy.

Next they might be insisting to be put at the front of the queue for vaccinations for the sake of furry flip flops wearers everywhere.

In the meantime, let the silver lining of this ignorance and selfishness be that it proves enough to persuade fans to look elsewhere for their influence.

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