Monday, November 9, 2020

Living in a Box

 Lockdown in Dubai started around 26 March and continued until June. We were only allowed out of our homes to buy food or go to the hospital and at one stage we needed to obtain a permit before we could go to the shops and were limited to food shopping once every 3 days. Thereafter, the restrictions have been gradually reducing in severity. The bars and restaurants have been open although there are social distancing measures in place including limits to the numbers per table and you have to wear a face mask when you leave home except when sitting down to eat food/drink. The shops were a little bare at the start of lockdown but are now pretty much fully stocked. Travel restrictions into Dubai were lifted in July (although Abu Dhabi and the other Emirates did not follow suit until October and it is still the case that you cannot travel into Abu Dhabi from Dubai unless you have a negative Covid test). 

Due to the various restrictions we have not travelled out of Dubai since March (apart from a couple of business trips I was required to make to Abu Dhabi), so it has been a long hot Summer- our first where we have not travelled since we moved here over 10 years ago. Although the sun always shines, the intense Summer heat (coupled with the Covid restrictions) rather limited entertainment options and I have to say that the arrival of the Winter season has been a very welcome relief. Despite (or quite possibly because of) the pandemic, work has been very busy and quite intense with a seemingly never ending sequence of Teams calls with colleagues around the Middle East and the rest of the network on management/BD issues as well as the day job of client work. In consequence and despite my warnings to my own team to “use it or lose it” I seem to have built up a large stockpile of annual leave which will remain untaken unless I can use it over the remaining 6 or 7 weeks. The joys of management.

The schools have been open since September and A. has been going in everyday and seems to be enjoying it. V. has been remote learning which has brought its own challenges although it has been nice to see more of her ( and Em) while I have been working from home. The cat is of course delighted with the turn of events.

We have been very fortunate here in Dubai  - the infection rate is currently around 1100 - 1200 per day (up from around 300 - 400 earlier in the Summer). However this has been holding steady for  5 - 6 weeks now and the Government has continued to ease restrictions whilst testing huge numbers of people - anything up to 100,000 tests per day which is pretty extraordinary given the relative size of the population and probably explains the success in limiting the numbers of infections.

Still no clear indication as to when we are likely to be able to book flights with any degree of certainty to visit home. However, I read today that there have been positive signs from a vaccine testing programme (press reports suggesting 90% success which seems very high but obviously fingers crossed). Hopefully things will continue in the right direction.

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