isNormally, influencers posting from Dubai go out of their way to show you how having a good time. In Covid’s latest cruel setback, they’re now doing everything they can to show they’re working their socks off.
With a growing number of cases leading the UK to announce that the UAE will be removed from its list of travel corridors from Tuesday, UK nationals returning home now face 10 days of isolation.
And following this announcement by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, social media users have realized that an extraordinary number of former stars of the Love Island and Geordie Shore television series appear to be in the presently in the United Arab Emirates.
Some of these exiled influencers are posting the same content on lounge chairs and fancy dining as before – Dubai is not subject to lockdowns like the UK. But now they have to scramble to remove hostile messages from their subscribers.
With ‘essential work trips’ being the only exception to the UK travel rules in place since November, some of the influencers in Dubai are attempting to indicate that their 3,400 mile trip was a necessary part of their job – appearing in videos and paid. for endorsements.
As the backlash mounted on Wednesday, Love Island star Anton Danyluk, who has been in Dubai since December 10 and posted footage of himself outside for meals and smoking shisha in a swimming pool, showed a video from his laptop with a view of the rooftops behind and the caption “Love the view from my office”.
Meanwhile, The Only Way Is Essex star James Lock posted at least two images from his laptop, with unspecified onscreen graphics, in his stories. On Wednesday morning, he told his supporters that he and his girlfriend, Yazmin Oukhellou, “were working away, despite what you think we are still grafting”. He posted a video of himself sunbathing, with a drink but no laptop, an hour later.
Oukhellou, also an influencer, previously explained that the trip to Dubai was for a must-have product launch. “We’re here for work, for business,” she said. “Obviously we’ll get the most out of it while we are here.”
They are far from alone. Geordie Shore stars Chloe Ferry, Sophie Kasaei and Bethan Kershaw said the apartment they rented had a room dedicated to producing sponsored content.
Gabby Allen, another Love Islander, told her followers, “Hey guys, just to let you know, we made the decision to fly to Dubai because my boyfriend’s business is based here and allows us to luckily to travel. “
Others could have traveled before Britain’s ban on non-essential international travel was imposed in November. Love Island star Kaz Crossley has been there since October and, according to his agent, was therefore a “resident” rather than a tourist, the same claim made by compatriot Georgia Harrison.
The extraordinary proliferation of hard-working influencers in Dubai, taking refuge even as the number of coronavirus cases increases, led writer Clive Martin to describe the emirates hotspot like “the Covid Casablanca”.
Residents might congratulate themselves on their town’s popularity with British tourists in general, but some are unimpressed by the latest flood.
“With everyone coming in, it was very difficult to get reservations at attractions and slots for residents,” said Rhea Matthew, a social services manager. She said the problem was uniquely British and coincided with the increase in the number of cases in the United Arab Emirates. “Our city became so full overnight. Things were going well and then boom – tourists everywhere. Things are escalating here and it’s scary.
The government of the United Arab Emirates referred to “a significant acceleration in the number of imported cases”.
In the influencers’ defense, Laura Anderson, another Love Island veteran, who is in Dubai, said: “I saw someone in my comments say that you are on vacation, but when you work you don’t aren’t on vacation… i’m definitely not out every day because i have to be on my laptop and life here is strict.
But Olivia Attwood, yet another Love Islander, summed up those arguments derisively from her Manchester home. “It’s the constant scream ‘I’m working, not on vacation,’” she said in a video. “There is a difference between being able to make money wherever you are and being there to work.”
As control over reality TV stars intensifies, Trending Travel, a vacation company that specializes in using celebrities to advertise, said it was forced to stop posting information featuring featured influencers.
Its chief executive, Keith Herman, said the company has advised around 15 influencers it works with who are in Dubai not to post at this time.
“Most of them listened to us,” he said. “We told them the world has changed over the past two weeks, you need to be more sensitive to who sees your messages. In their defense, he said, some had contracts to honor and were inexperienced. But he added, “Morally they should just stay low for now. “
Sarah Penny, head of content at marketing agency Influencer Intelligence, said the posts were misguided, even from a brand perspective. “We have been monitoring the situation throughout the pandemic and it is clear that the public is very sensitive to [behaviour]. I fully understand that they have to work, but it’s a very low-key and short-term way of looking at it.
The influencers themselves, meanwhile, were unwilling to expand their statements on social media. Of the 23 contacted by the Guardian, only Crossley’s agency provided a statement on his behalf. Twenty-one did not respond, while Danyluk’s agent asked if the influencer would receive a fee.