Dubai Diaries: Surviving the pandemic

In today's column, we take a look at the 'new normal' amidst the pandemic in the UAE


Kirstin Bernabe

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Published: Wed 16 Mar 2022, 6:00 PM

Just a couple of months ago, I had to spend 10 extremely long days alone, cooped up in a room trading punches with the Covid virus. But in what seemed like a split second afterwards, there I was, a tiny pregnant fish in a sea of 16,000-strong people, literally rubbing shoulders with strangers as I swayed my hips and bobbed my head to the music of my ultimate favourite band Ben&Ben.

Was I scared? Not at all. In fact, missing that epic show would have been far scarier. Imagine standing in front of such talented musicians, singing their most iconic song at the top of your lungs — with fireworks bursting all around you, from chorus until the last note. It was magical, and it’s all thanks to Expo 2020 Dubai.

That was my scene exactly a week ago. And here I am, still in the pink of health: No colds, no cough, no scratchy throat. All I have is the energy to do it all over again. Covid made us all miss ‘living life to the fullest’ — from travelling and exploring new places to dressing up and spending time with friends and family in the biggest, coolest parties ever. Dubai and the rest of the UAE have done everything to bring all that life back to our days, and they have done so ahead of many countries in the world.

Back home in the Philippines, people are still wary of moving around, though a number of restrictions have already been relaxed and capacity limits are now being lifted. Children are back in classrooms, while malls, restaurants and cinemas are back in business. However, many — at least among our families and friends — are yet to be convinced that the Philippines is ready to go all out with parties and concerts. After all, only about 57 per cent have been fully vaccinated. I terribly miss home, but I don’t think I’ll be able to fly to our beautiful islands anytime soon.

The UAE is still the safest place to savour all the simple joys without having to worry about getting sick. Go for a weekend on the beach, have a picnic in the mountains, grab your favourite book and enjoy some quiet time at the park. And, if you haven’t made time for the world’s greatest show yet, block this weekend now because you have only two weeks left to enjoy the Expo magic. I love walking around the mega fair and while there are long lines across the site, I don’t mind queueing up for an hour or so — if it meant getting a box of maki rolls from Sushiro at the Japan Pavilion or half a dozen doughnuts from the Bread Ahead Bakery.

During the first few days of the pandemic, it was extremely difficult to imagine what a ‘new normal’ would look like. Now that we’re here, who would have thought magical, wonderful days were waiting for us in the UAE?

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