Stock Dubai shopping, shoppers, economy DSF
Shoppers at the Mirdif City Centre during the Dubai Shopping Festival. Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Has my life returned to normal? Yes, to a large extent. I have been going to the office every day. Been shopping for groceries every week. There’s been the occasional mall trawling. Have even caught the Dubai Metro and the bus on several occasions. My life goes on, uninterrupted.

When much of the world is in lockdown at a time of coronavirus, my freedom is a luxury. A luxury afforded by the strict enforcement of COVID-19 safety protocols in Dubai and the rest of the UAE. The gridlocked roads during peak hours tell me that I’m not the only one out and about. Life in the UAE is close to normal.

What gives me the confidence to walk into a coffee shop or catch public transport? Well, I’ve had COVID-19. But that was eight months ago. Yet I’m not afraid of reinfection. Simply because people around me are following the safety protocols.

I’m always masked when I step out of the home. People all around me are wearing masks. You cannot enter any establishment — business or leisure — without wearing a mask. Which means everyone wears a mask. This is perhaps the main reason why the rate of infections and deaths have remained low.

Vaccination campaigns have been underway for several weeks, and the UAE is second in the vaccination race. And people haven’t ditched the masks. All awareness campaigns harp on the need to keep wearing masks until there’s clear evidence that the virus threat has dissisipated.

Everyone carries a sanitiser. But that too is not necessary since sanitiser dispensers are everywhere. You just need the inclination to sanitise. And people do use it. I was curious and watched people sanitise their hands frequently.

Social distancing too is generally followed. Only in supermarkets, the compliance is low. And Metro during peak hours is crowded. At the height of the COVID-19 storm, Metro staff used to limit the number of people boarding the trains from each station.

More than a year has passed since the new coronavirus first surfaced in Wuhan, China. After around 1.9 million deaths and over 90 million infections, we have several vaccines to rein in the spread of the virus. The vaccination programmes around the world will take a while to take effect. Till then, we will continue to wear masks. Ignore the sniping on social media about people roaming around Dubai without masks. They don’t know. We know.

Or else, the Indian Premier League wouldn’t have left India for the UAE. Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t have come last week. It’s not just the celebs who are making a beeline for Dubai; the job seekers are back too.

The tourists are coming in droves. That’s what the Financial Times says. “Dubai opens up to tourists as rest of world locks down”, the headline proclaims. And it quotes a banker from New York saying that Dubai is the only place he knows where you can live your normal life. He’s right. My life’s back to normal. All you need is a face mask.