Sutharson Sathaiah, Senior Manager – HSE & Risk at Global Village
Global Village - a place where the entire world comes together! Every year, Global Village witnesses a huge footfall. People throng the pavilions of their favorite countries and shop for their much awaited artifacts. However, Season 25 of the Global Village has to operate under a new definition of normal. Social distancing is mandatory: hygiene requirements are essential. Amidst the new rules of the new normal, how does Global Village operate?
Sutharson Sathaiah, Senior Manager – HSE & Risk at Global Village talks to Samiya Andrabi in an exclusive interview.
Global Village Season 25 is well underway. How did you prepare for it in terms of hygiene? Enhanced hygiene and measures in this direction featured prominently during our preparations ahead of re-opening. Following the conclusion of Season 24, we comprehensively assessed all areas across the park to ensure customer comfort and safety under ‘new normal’ standards. Besides mandatory masks and social distancing, hygiene will be maintained through fortified cleaning operations. We have partnered with SHIELDme - a leading producer and supplier of sanitisation products - and are using their 100% natural products to sanitise our park.
Cleaning schedules to sterilise major attractions and disinfect all toilets and prayer rooms are more frequent, and carnival rides, in-park taxis, and shopping trolley touchpoints are cleaned between each use. With regard to cashless transactions, the brand new Global Village App and website allows online ticket purchase and parking payment, whilst the new GV Pay e-wallet allows contactless payment across all Global Village outlets for guests who prefer to avoid using cash. Guests are also more conscious about hand hygiene than ever before, and over 600 hand sanitiser stations have been installed across Global Village.
Was the preparation different from how you would prepare before COVID-19? What changed?
Ensuring our guests visit a destination that complies with the highest standards of health and safety has always been central to our preparations. However, the challenging circumstances this year called for new measures, and we consulted with leading international and local authorities to ensure we implemented world-class precautions so our guests would be comfortable and safe. Through proactive collaboration, with new and existing partnerships, and the invaluable support of internal and external personnel, we thoroughly reviewed all Global Village areas and utilised every available resource to ensure the required measures were in place before re-opening.
What infection control measures are being taken at Global Village?
We are taking every precautionary measure necessary, and we assess any and all situations that may arise in coordination with the UAE government and health authorities. Thermal cameras have been installed at all public and staff entry points to temperature control all guests and personnel. A fully equipped clinic and ambulance team is always on-site and prepared to respond to emergencies, as are fully trained professionals. It is even possible for guests to take a PCR test at the Prime Clinic on site for AED150.
What are the challenges you expected to face before re-opening?
As the UAE and wider region’s leading multicultural family destination, we welcome millions of guests every season. Therefore, we always anticipate challenges and plan accordingly so we can maintain a comfortable environment and adhere to the highest standards of safety. This year’s events meant we had to review our entire scope of operations and further enhance a multitude of processes. We addressed a variety of potential challenges, and we continue to ensure our partners receive all the support they need to achieve their aspirations.
Thousands of people visit Global Village. How is social distancing being ensured?
First and foremost, signs are visible at entrances, on floors, and in all common areas so guests are always aware of the social distancing policy at Global Village. We are grateful that our guests have followed the measures we have put in place since re-opening, and the vast outdoor space is perfectly suited for social distancing when hosting thousands of people.
Capacity is also being monitored every day in line with recommendations from the UAE government and relevant health authorities, and we will continue to limit capacity to safeguard our social distancing policy. Should we reach maximum capacity on any given day, the gates will close and guests will be alerted through official social media channels, the Global Village mobile app and website. We advise all guests to check these channels before setting out for Global Village, particularly on weekends and bank holidays.
How have you overcome them?
At Global Village we pride ourselves on the expertise and agility of our teams. Their dedication and passion has allowed us to successfully open and operate despite the current situation. Our partners are also a fundamental part of the success of the season. The Global Village Partner Happiness Center worked tirelessly to support our Season 25 partners over the summer months and they are happy with our collaborative approach and partnership. Of course, the current situation can always change, and we continue to work closely with the relevant authorities to ensure the wellbeing of our guests, employees, and partners.
How have you trained the cleaning staff with regards to disinfection?
As always, we have worked closely with local authorities and international organisations such as the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) to ensure every necessary measure is in place for the comfort of our guests. This includes providing staff with the training they need to fulfil tasks. All internal guidance and support aligns with the best practices of those we work alongside, and our incredible team is the key to maintaining the highest possible disinfection standards.
How do you see future cleaning and hygiene practices at Global Village?
Global Village has set a new benchmark for travel, tourism, and hospitality destinations at the regional and international level in terms of cleaning and hygiene practices. We are already recognised for our safety record and officially become the first Theme Park worldwide to win the “Sword of Honour” from the British Safety Council for our high standards of safety management. Furthermore, we also recently received the Dubai Assured from Dubai Municipality, Dubai Economy and Dubai Tourism (DTCM) in light of our stringent preparations for opening. Cleaning and hygiene were prominent factors behind these recognitions, and we will always aim to establish even greater standards to ensure the safety and well-being of visitors and our staff.