New Normal in Dubai: A Test of Survival

Dubai is just one of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a nation in the Middle East. It is known to be one of the safest countries in the world, but this pandemic puts it in a totally different situation. UAE is not immune from the virus at all.

Authorities were quick enough to close the borders and implement strict rules for all residents.

Before going out we have to secure a digital permit which serves our pass. We’re required to wear masks and observe social distancing wherever we go, and follow the set curfew. Otherwise, fines will be imposed.

A special reminder, “Manatili sa bahay,” is projected on Burj Khalifa to urge the Filipino community to stay home and take the quarantine measures seriously.

Looking at the total number of cases for a country with only less than 10 million population, it is likely massive. Take a look at the breakdown below as of this writing and get an idea on how the pandemic is being handled.


Total Cases




Total Deaths

Test kits and quarantine facilities are readily available for people to easily detect patients who are positive of COVID-19 at its early stage for greater chance of survival.

Even public service announcements and guidelines are properly disseminated throughout key public areas. These are just some of the things that we as residents appreciate, and we could only admire the country’s readiness for such a crisis.

Since the successful completion of the National Sterilisation Programme in June, kids under the age of 12 can now enter malls and restaurants.

The government has been firm in keeping both public and private firms fully operational, while still subjected to management’s approval, as active COVID-19 cases continue to drop down—having the most effective frontliners spread throughout the country.

Filipino workforce in Dubai

The Filipino community is the third largest expatriate in the UAE and has a representation across different sectors: hospitality, food and beverage, retail, communication, household service and construction industry.

As an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) I can say that pastures are not always greener as how our fellow citizens would tend to perceive.

This outbreak has resulted to about 7,000 Filipinos being repatriated back home over the past few months, either after they lose jobs, salary cuts or forced by their companies to go on furlough status or extended leave without pay.

Many instead have chosen to be with their families back home, in spite of the ease on over-stay fines and the automatic extension of visa validity until December 2020—these are the government’s way to support its residents heavily affected of the situation.

The Philippine Consulate in Dubai | Photo by Asghar Khan/Xpress of Gulf News Location

As for the rest of us who decided to stay, we are confident that the UAE will bounce back stronger to provide a lot more opportunities for us. Put it simply, it may not be the end game as how others might have felt about it.

Photo from Business Traveler Middle East

My quarantine takeaway: Braver, wiser in the new normal

If I am to weigh in on this pandemic, I can tell you positively that with the grace of God, I am not fearing it so much for myself but rather for other people—my family and especially my mom miles away from me.

I get emotional whenever I hear stories of lives lost and how it breaks their loved ones’ hearts because there were no proper goodbyes due to strict isolation in hospitals until their last breath.

This is probably the consequence of living on your own far from home: I worry excessively because I can only do so much on checking on them and calling them, but it’s never enough.

How do I get by? In my case, I started it off confused and clueless of how the work from home set up will work for me. The only thing that got me excited was the fact that it will somehow give me a break from struggling with myself in waking up at sunrise.

It is a serious matter for someone having insomnia attacks or whatever term is worse than that, I have it.

My best judgment is that my body clock has never adjusted on a different time zone other than the Philippines’ despite living in this side of the world for almost three years now.

Moreover, I make it a point that I prioritize my mental health by disregarding negative behaviour around me.

I also try to balance out my feelings by allowing myself to feel sensitive, emotional, anxious, wary and even mad for the right reasons. I let it all out.

What’s the fun part? I have unleashed the sexy chef in me! I came from a family of professional and best home chefs so it’s probably natural of me to whip up some magic in the kitchen, but tell you what, I only get to practice my ambitious recipes when I arrived here.

Growing up, it would always be my mom who cooked non-stop for us on a daily basis, and in the rare times we tried to cook for her, she did not like the results.

This quarantine has given me so much extra time that I finally tried my hand at baking now it’s close to becoming my passion.

I do it regularly and I make sure I get to spoil my friends with all these sweets and pastries they’ve been craving for. I did pretty good with my first few products that others don’t seem to believe it’s my first time using the oven.

How do I manage my relationships these days? I try to keep it at a minimum. Nothing high maintenance could ever work during this period.

I appreciate those who are mature enough to understand that we all need space somehow, not just for safety reasons but also for self-growth. Even our romantic set ups have to wait—that is clear with him.

What are my post-pandemic plans? I want to do a full reset. Trying to be certain that I learned something out of this unwanted phase is a feat by itself.

A part of it is securing my future by allocating my resources properly which could turn into something bigger later on.

Obviously, I meant business. I’m already in the middle of closing an agreement with a credible supplier overseas who happens to be a dear friend, too. It’s going to be a cosmetic boutique shop online as it is something I have always been keen of—keeping the skin healthy and glowing. I’m bringing well known skincare line to the market so it’s really pretty exciting!

Another one is a café in the Philippines, but this could probably take some time and I want to be there to do the initial work before it goes up and running.

Nothing grand really, but there’s also nothing wrong in getting things started no matter what the situation is.

As the experts would say, you got to take some risks to see beyond your limits, and that calls for now, not tomorrow.


Finally, my piece of advice? Be more human. Be more sensitive and more caring for others because it could be mentally draining for most of us.

My fair share is to stay positive for other people despite my own personal issues. Sometimes, you just have to be the braver one.

Cheers to better days ahead of us! Insha’ Allah (God willing)

About the Author:

Windalyn Goma is a Filipino Public Relations (PR) professional. She has been working in Dubai since 2017, most recently with Impact BBDO – FleishmanHillard Middle East.

Before pursuing the PR track, she was a broadcast journalist for People’s Television Network.

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