7 Quarantine Stories From Dubai

There are only a handful of situations where one can claim that a chapter in their life was like a movie. However, the coronavirus pandemic in one swift move had the world stumbling to find footing. The unexpected became a reality, and an ordinary routine suddenly became the most bizarre roller coaster ride of our lives. The situation influenced every individuals life in one way or another, whether it be good or bad. Here are a few narrations by people from different walks of life, putting into words their experiences during this phase as well as the series of events that have led to our new normal way of life.

Fakaiha Arshad - Marketing Specialist

"It's a weird sort of illusion. I was in the midst of planning my wedding which is due for December 2020 - then this happened. I was almost on a flight to Pakistan to make vendor confirmations, as well as my dream wedding outfit. Every girl has a dream of her big day, the day she gets married and is a part of two families instead of one - yes mine too. A routine didn't exist starting March 19, 2020. Parts of my family will be having cereal at 7 AM while the others woke up during lunch time.

Several weeks later, we created a routine of our own as it was getting unhealthy and we felt out of place. We created workout schedules and time for creativity whether it was painting, cooking or even just detail cleaning around the house. I later also started with some courses that many universities were now offering for free and preparing my sister 'the tween' for finals. Staying home had made me less social but also gave me time to focus on myself and my family, that I usually don't get time for. I hope for the best for all of us, as this may just remain as a part of our life."

Rida Shahid - Engineer

"When I first heard about the novel coronavirus I remember thinking of it as a faraway thing, an issue that was only affecting China, and others seemed to have a similar mindset. However, working for the aviation industry made me hyper-aware of how fast the situation was worsening worldwide as airlines began to suspend flight services to country after country. The biggest confirmation came when we were sent home in the middle of a workday. Told to drop everything we were doing, pack up and leave.

I think everyone can agree that this work from home period/quarantine/lockdown, whatever you’d call it, has been a roller coaster of emotions. The first two weeks were a welcomed change. Working from home in my pajamas, no commute, no traffic and ice cream for lunch; just having a terrific old time.  In the following weeks it got a bit frustrating and anxiety inducing. My routine was completely out of whack, I couldn’t meet my friends or extended family and the COVID-19 numbers were constantly on the rise.

Everyday errands such as going to the supermarket had become a tremendous task. I would strategically navigate my way through the aisles to avoid breaking that invisible two meter barrier while disinfecting my glove-covered hands with sanitizer every few minutes. Zoom provided some relief in connecting with loved ones but the overall feeling of restlessness was settling in everywhere. On the flip side I recognized how privileged I was, sitting in the comfort of my own home not having to worry about my financial situation while businesses were getting shut down and unemployment was on the rise. The biggest relief during this time came in the form of Ramadan. It put a purpose into my daily routine and with worldly distractions at bay I got to really focus and observe Ramadan in the best way possible.

Now slowly things are getting back to somewhat of a normal state but I don’t think we can ever resume life as before until we have a definite vaccine. In fact I don’t think that we can ever resume life as before because this experience has inherently changed all of us in some shape or form. Let’s hope it’s for the better."

Abdul Rahman - Maintenance Planner

"I’m sure no one would have predicted the kind of impact COVID-19 has played on all of our lives. The speed with which the infection spread from China to the rest of the world has changed the way people now perceive things. We are a lot more interconnected to each other globally than previously thought and a lot of businesses depend on each other to survive.

I have personally learnt a lot from this forced change in our lifestyle. Working from home has allowed my team to become more flexible now and to a certain extent even more productive than working from the office. I have also managed to enhance my cooking skills as I have more time now to spend being a side-kick to my very talented partner. The financial impact of the pandemic has also encouraged me to be more vigilant with my spending and to learn to prioritize.

While these are all positive aspects there are a few scary and negative facets of this change that the pandemic has implemented in our lives. Job insecurity is the biggest one. The aviation industry has been hit the hardest with barely any countries allowing international travel which has led to a lot of job cuts in the field. This is something that is continuously looming over my head and there is nothing that can be done.

The other aspect is of the infection itself, given how the number of infections is still going at a steady rate the end doesn’t seem to be any close. Living with my parents I have to be very careful when I step out of the house to ensure I don’t bring the infection back home with me.

However, when I do step out, I feel safe given how well the UAE government has laid down the guidelines. Social distancing being enforced and maintained in all public places gives one the assurance of safety. I am very grateful by the steps taken by the government and all the contributions from the frontline workers.

I’m sure very soon this phase will just be a story we will reminiscence when we hand out with our friends, when we meet, in person, without any masks and gloves…"

Zainab Sheikh - Student

"It has been around three months in quarantine. Initially, I was extremely anxious to stay home 24/7 with the same group of people. However, I tried to distract myself by sleeping, organizing and spending time on my hobbies. As the days progressed, Ramadan began and my assignments started to pile up. I felt like so much was going on in such little time, which is why I was losing motivation. In addition to this, I didn’t (and still don’t know) what to expect. Therefore, I was constantly overthinking. Despite all this, I did pick up some good habits that helped me focus on my health and fitness. As a matter of fact, I have managed to form routine, which also allows me to bond with my family. Rather than being stuck in a room all by myself. Although I wish I could go out, see my friends and do normal things, being in quarantine isn’t so bad."

Arfah Khan - Stay-At-Home Mom

"I remember watching a YouTube video showing how surreal Wuhan looked during lockdown. It still felt so impossible that I remember thinking this looks just like a movie. Fast forward a few months and my nuclear family started our own journey in to lockdown in Dubai.

I have never been a ‘homebody’ and that has resulted in my toddler being used to going out and about ever since she was a newborn. Although I quit my job to look after my daughter, that by no means kept us at home. We were used to daily trips to the communal park and going out to enjoy other fun activities Dubai had to offer at least 3 times a week as well as travelling a few times a year. Lockdown meant all 3 of us were stuck in an apartment with a small balcony. It caused a lot of frustration for my toddler and for the first few weeks she would cry for us to take her out. She is too young to understand what coronavirus is but she eventually understood that no matter how much she asked, she wouldn’t be able to convince us to take her out. I’m still not sure what hurt me more, when she kept crying to go out or when she gave up on asking us.

After a few weeks and a lot of online shopping for toys and arts and crafts, an adjusted routine and extra screen time; she settled in to her new way of life and everything started to feel like a new normal. I have to say that for me it was the opposite. I started this journey full of gratitude that we were safe and healthy but as the numbers went up and the curfew went on, my anxiety started to build up. We had stocked up on pantry foods so we wouldn’t need to visit the supermarket frequently but even popping in to the shop for milk and bread and coming home and sanitizing it felt like stepping in to some kind of war zone with an invisible enemy. My anxiety was flared up by the thought of catching the virus and transmitting it to my daughter. Now that rules have been relaxed and my husband is back at work, we go out for socially distanced walks in our neighborhood but I always feel on edge going in the lift or touching the surface. I often wonder how long it will take me to feel comfortable in a public place again. As they say however, every cloud has a silver lining.

During lockdown, my daughter’s bond with her dad grew so much stronger. He was working from home like most other people so she marveled over him getting her out of bed in the morning and making her bottle. She cherished him reading her stories before nap time so much so that I was no longer allowed to read them, only Baba. These are things she seldom got to enjoy with him because of his work schedule so she was loving all the extra time she was getting. It also gave me the opportunity to sleep in and catch up on sleep which any mum will tell you is like finding gold at the end of the rainbow! The last few months have allowed me to learn how to have fun at home without planning our next holiday or our next day out. It has taught me to be thankful for blessings I didn’t even count before and I’m thankful for the uninterrupted time I got to spend as a family. Its also taught me that when everyone eats at home, there are a lot of dishes to do!"

Asmaa Ahmed Youssef - Freelance Content Writer

"My quarantine experience has been busy. I've been working almost all day long! I quit and started doing online courses to learn and improve myself. Now, I have more me time. I feel that quarantine has taught me to save more, plan more and work harder on myself. The labor market after COVID-19 will have different requirements than before. Digital and online jobs will dominate, so people who are computer illiterate won't be able to survive for long!"

Amrin Bano Parihar - Business Analyst

"The one thing that has kept me going in this quarantine period is the fact that I am safe in the UAE. When I sit back and see how the world is going through horrible times. How the minorities around the world are treated with hatred and force. I am even more grateful to the UAE to provide us peace, safety and happiness. I'm blessed to be a minority in this country yet be treated equally. Oh Dubai, how can we ever repay you!"

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