Dubai’s Famous Trade Centre & Landmark

The centre’s exhibition halls will allow hundreds of staff to look after patients, if numbers continue to grow

Nursing staff flash victory signs for a selfie, as they set up a huge field hospital at Dubai World Trade Centre. The facility’s huge halls, typically used for exhibitions and conferences, can hold up to 3,000 beds. All photos by Karim Sahib / AFP

The sprawling halls of Dubai’s World Trade Centre have been transformed into the Middle East’s largest hospital.

It is able to provide 3,000 beds – including 800 for intensive care patients, the centre’s director of engineering Ali Abdulqader said.

The move is part of efforts to boost bed numbers to handle a potential increase in Covid-19 patients.

Staff were putting the finishing touches to the field hospital on Wednesday. At full capacity, hundreds of doctors and nurses would work at the site in central Dubai.

The centre is one of two field hospitals to boost the city’s bed capacity for coronavirus patients from the current 4,000 to 5,000 beds.

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Speaking last week, Humaid Al Qatami, director general of Dubai Health Authority, said the emirate had plans in place for “all scenarios” and the authorities were “prepared to help 5,000, 10,000 or, God forbid, more than that”.

The World Trade Centre set-up is similar to London’s ExCel centre, which was transformed into a 4,000 bed named NHS Nightingale. The facility, which is owned by Abu Dhabi’s Adnec centre, was fitted-out in the space of two weeks, with help from the British military.

In the Emirates, medical staff from government and private hospitals are on the front lines of tackling the outbreak.

There were 4,933 cases of Covid-19 as of Wednesday, with 300 to 400 new patients confirmed each day this week.

Officials believe the country will turn a corner in the next three to four weeks as the nationwide stay-home order limits the number of new cases, and mass testing identifies who has the virus.

Speaking on Tuesday, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak thanked doctors across the country for tackling the virus outbreak.

“Our hearts stay with you all, as you’re wholeheartedly responding to the call of duty in such a time of distress,” said Sheikha Fatima, the Mother of the Nation and wife of the late Sheikh Zayed.

“God bless you all and keep you a cherished asset for your homeland.”

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