New Year in UAE: Residents plan small house parties as Covid cases surge

Citizens and expats are cutting back on large get together and instead choosing to spend time only with their immediate family members



Photo: File
Photo: File
by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Sun 26 Dec 2021, 3:03 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Dec 2021, 12:34 AM

The UAE is gearing up to welcome 2022 with record-breaking firework displays, drones, lights, and dazzling performances.

But many residents have plans to ring in the New Year with muted celebrations given the surge of Covid-19 cases.

People are hosting small house parties as the Covid cases put a damper on year-end celebrations for the second year, compelling citizens and expats to scale back the usual parties.

Residents are cutting back on large get together with friends and instead choosing to spend time only with their immediate family members while planning to watch the iconic Dubai fireworks from the comfort of their homes.

Despite the insecurities and never-ending pandemic threat, people are also trying to keep the spirit alive, as celebrations remain muted.

Mohammad Falaknaz and family. Photo: Supplied
Mohammad Falaknaz and family. Photo: Supplied

UAE National Mohammad Falaknaz says, “Dubai is a very happening city. People from all over the world come here to celebrate their New Year’s Eve. We never travel during New Year’s. Besides, I feel each emirate has its own set of unique attractions, and if you venture out to see each of these attractions or as many as you can, that is quite thrilling. With the onset of the pandemic, local tourism has also become quite popular, which frankly, earlier, was not a part of our culture. So, I will travel around the country during this holiday season. Tourism was also reviving earlier, with the pandemic abating, but with the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, I think people have started taking extra precautions once again.”

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He adds, “On New Year’s, we usually do a barbecue in our backyard and watch the fireworks from home. Besides, one can watch different UAE fireworks on TV broadcast live. So why not enjoy from the comfort of your homes? Another issue is the traffic situation on New Year’s Eve. So, we prefer staying indoors and enjoying this time together with our loved ones. As a law-abiding citizen, I would also limit the gathering in my house to immediate family or close kin as the new variant continues to pose a threat across the world.”

Another Dubai resident feels being cautious is the way forward in this rapidly evolving situation rather than allowing the pandemic to wreak havoc.

Valeriya Bach. Photo: Supplied
Valeriya Bach. Photo: Supplied

American expat Valeriya Bach says, “We didn’t go out for Christmas or organise a big party bearing in mind the surge in Coronavirus cases. Neither shall we venture out for New Year. Many people still do not adhere to basic protocols like wearing the masks properly and mostly places get crowded on New Year’s Eve. Since I live in JBR we will be watching the fireworks from our balcony. My mother-in-law and brother-in-law, who live downstairs in the same building, will come up for dinner. So, I’ll just organise a nice dinner for everyone that day.”

Bach adds, "We had plans to travel to Israel in January. But now, even that has been postponed as flights are getting cancelled due to the Omicron strain. Some countries have already slammed their doors shut once again as the pandemic is rising in many parts of the world. So, it's best not to take chances and stay safe here, as the weather is good and Dubai itself is a very attractive destination for everyone.”

Though the widespread vaccine rollout across countries seemed to provide a reprieve from the worst of the pandemic situation, residents reiterate that the Omicron variant's emergence has thrown another wrench into what was being visualised as a post-pandemic life.

Adilatul and family. Photo: Supplied
Adilatul and family. Photo: Supplied

Malaysian expat Adilatul says, “There is no set plan for New Year’s Eve so far. We may go to Oman for a couple of days, bearing in mind the Covid-19 situation. Otherwise, as we live in town (in Abu Dhabi city), we’ll go and watch the fireworks. My home is usually open for my friends on New Year’s Eve, where people come over, and we chat, relax, and have a small informal get-together. But this year, as cases are rising continuously, we need to be more cautious about the number of heads. It’s only since the last two years that we’ve been here in the UAE around this time of the year; we’ve always travelled as schools remain closed and its very festive everywhere.”

Echoing similar thoughts, Indian expat Hozefa Arsiwala, said, “My relatives live in the same building as us, and every year we celebrate New Year’s Eve with them. But this year, their entire family has tested Covid positive. So, our New Year celebrations, which were restricted to close kin, are ruled out completely and venturing out is not on the cards at all, as most places would be crowded. I feel it’s important to adhere to all Covid-19 protocols as much as possible. Celebrations can always resume once the pandemic recedes completely.”


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