CORONAVIRUS: US and World

Friday will never be the same in Dubai. The Middle East’s financial hub has shifted its weekend this year from Friday and Saturday to the Western-style Saturday and Sunday along with the rest of the United Arab Emirates. That has thrown Dubai’s beloved institution of Friday brunch — a favorite custom of expats who revel in hourslong booze-soaked, Instagram-worthy buffets — into disarray. Locked in a culinary arms race to attract Dubai’s big spenders, brunch destinations are keen to keep the extravaganza alive despite the weekend upheaval. While the industry seeks to shift brunch to Saturday, uncertainty reigns as residents mourn the loss of a fabled Dubai rite. Read more

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Chinese authorities have lifted a monthlong lockdown of Xi’an and its 13 million residents as infections subside ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in less than two weeks. Meanwhile, the 2 million residents of one Beijing district are being tested following a series of cases in the capital. The government told people in areas of Beijing deemed at high risk for infection not to leave the city. Residents in Fengtai district lined up on snow-covered sidewalks in freezing weather for testing. The Olympics are being held in a bubble and athletes must be vaccinated or have to quarantine on arrival. Xi’an has been a cornerstone of China’s “zero tolerance” strategy toward COVID-19 that mandates lockdowns, travel restrictions and mass testing. Read more

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Shares are mostly lower in Asia after Wall Street logged its worst week since the pandemic began in 2020. Benchmarks declined in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney but rose in Shanghai. U.S. futures were higher. Investors have been growing increasingly worried about how aggressively the Federal Reserve might act to cool rising inflation. At the same time, outbreaks of the omicron variant of the coronavirus threaten to slow recoveries from the crisis. The benchmark S&P 500 sank 1.9% on Friday, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index dipped 2.7%. It has fallen for four straight weeks and is now more than 10% below its most recent high, putting it in what Wall Street considers a market correction.  Read more