Coronavirus Pandemic

#NextStopZero: Covid pandemic pushed Dubai expat to start his own business

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on September 24, 2020 | Last updated on September 25, 2020 at 10.26 pm


"Covid-19 situation is extremely bad in India. There is no way I can support my daughter's education"

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another. Some of us are mourning the loss of a loved one, while others are trying to make ends meet after losing their jobs or taking a pay cut. The UAE is gradually restoring normalcy even as it reminds residents that the threat is far from over. Through this two-week series, Khaleej Times will feature residents who have endured a loss due to the virus, to remind you that the alarming surge in daily cases is more than just a number. #NextStopZero is a rallying call to get the community to adopt safe practices so as to bring down the infection rate.

Fifty-five-year-old Indian expat Pothen Thomas had a clear vision about his life in the UAE - a few more years until his three children a complete education.

"I was ready to say Ma'ssalama (Goodbye) to the UAE once my kids finish school. But the firm where I was working as an accountant terminated me along with 15 others due to pandemic-triggered losses," he told Khaleej Times.

With no other choice, Thomas launched a building materials company dealing in safety wear items to stay afloat. "The company where I was working was suffering losses due to the economic situation caused by the pandemic. Since I was an accountant, I knew they were not invoicing enough to pay staff salaries," he said. "I lost my job in May and served the notice period until July and then, three of us launched the business."

A Dubai-resident for nine years, Thomas was transferred from his earlier company office in Saudi Arabia. "I've been living in the GCC for 25 years. At first, the employees suffered a 25 per cent salary cut. "I understand the situation, and the company was very good to us. We got our gratuities and everything the company owes us," he added.

According to Thomas, an 'aged individual' like him would find it impossible to find an alternative job in this tough market. "Companies prefer hiring younger people. Old-timers like me do not stand much of a chance," he added.

Going back to India in this current situation without a job prospect was also daunting for Thomas and his family. "The Covid-19 situation is extremely bad in India. There is no way I can support my daughter's education," he added.

"We are only three of us working for the business now, no other employees. Obviously, we are new players in the market. and those struggles are there, but I am hopeful," said Thomas.

"Without hope, the world does not work. I am hopeful that this company will pick up and I can support my family," he added.

Also, if the termination letter from his previous company had not come along, Thomas would've never considered starting his own business. He appealed to UAE residents to take safety protocols set by the UAE government. "If the numbers rise, businesses will suffer and more people like me will be rendered unemployed. We must adhere to Covid-19 precautions and wear masks at all times while outside and practice safe hygiene. Not everyone has my fortune either," he said.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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