A cross-section of UAE residents shared how they are navigating the new normal guardedly.
UAE residents are shaping their lives under the ‘new normal’ – treading cautiously – as coronavirus cases continue to increase.
This comes even after partial restrictions have been lifted, with the country opening up its malls and restaurants to stimulate the economy.
Our lives now entail shielding our faces, undergoing temperature checks, social distancing monitors at supermarkets and marked-off empty seats on the Metro.
These changes are equally reflected on how we think, behave and relate to one another – some deliberate but many made unconsciously, some temporary but others possibly permanent – are all delineating the new normal.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, a cross-section of UAE residents shared how they are navigating the new normal guardedly, even when the government has granted certain exemptions.
Malls have lost their charm
American expat Shukri Deria, who earlier loved the outdoors, especially during Ramadan, said: “I have zero interest in going to the malls now for shopping but I may go closer to Eid to buy a few gifts. We are not taking the kids out yet. I am not sure when we ever will. I think the numbers have to go down before that can happen. The other day I went back to walking and the new norm is to wear mask and to keep distance. It feels so different.”
Canadian expat Mousa Nimer said he cannot help sanitise his hands all the time even when he’s at home.
“I can’t spend a full one hour without at least sanitising my hands or washing them once, even though I’m home. Also, I haven’t had the full confidence of taking my child out into the sun yet. It’s hard and difficult to make that choice unless the government says it’s completely safe to.”
Indian expat Zoya Shaikh feels it will probably take months before people can step out stress-free. She said: “Although things have opened up, there is a quotient of fear that holds us back from visiting public places. We are only going out to the supermarket to buy our grocery supplies. We have strictly refrained from socialising with friends.”
Like everyone else, Malaysian expat Noor Nazri Talib’s family is always ready with masks, gloves and sanitisers while trying to limit their contact and exposure to other people.
He said: “Our kids have been missing their friends and worried they won’t be able to keep in shape since they do sports. But it is important to set aside what we want individually and look at the bigger picture. Life won’t be the same as it was before and the struggle is real. It is hard to keep ourselves motivated and optimistic all the time, especially during a long confinement period.”
People declining invitations
Russian expat Valeriya Svalova who tried organising her child’s birthday party this weekend, only with her next-door neighbours, said the invitees expressed reluctance to join in.
“I tried inviting our neighbours, but they seemed unwilling, stating they were adhering to social distancing norms. They also said they had elderly people in the house and they were refraining from meeting outsiders as much as possible. Although restrictions have been lifted partially it looks like many are not keen to meet anyone outside their immediate family,” said the Dubai resident.
Work culture may change
Similarly, Syrian expat Majd Al Khatib said our work cultures may also undergo a massive change in the foreseeable future.
“I feel people are more comfortable working from home now rather than going back to a shared professional space and taking the public transport to get to their respective offices. This also enhances the risk of virus exposure. Work-from-home (WFH) seems like the new normal to many.”
It’s about being a minimalist now
Eliza Francis, British expat in Dubai, said: “Our ability to focus, to feel comfortable around others, is diminishing. The new normal is teaching us to do everything in moderation or even being a minimalist. Despite the movement restrictions being lifted the joy of eating out at a restaurant or visiting each other’s house without inhibitions or travelling in the near future are nowhere in the line of sight.”
Click here to read more news from @khaleejtimes