Fireworks ring in the New Year over the skies of Ras Al Khaimah. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

So, what does 2022 have in store for us all now that the fireworks are over and the calendar page has been turned?

We enter 2022 living with the reality that while coronavirus rates are generally under control across the UAE, much of the world is dealing with the very serious threat posed by Omicron and other variants of Covid-19.

While Omicron is highly contagious, there is growing scientific data that points to the variant, first discovered in South Africa, not resulting in serious medical deterioration as with earlier strains. Indeed, on this New Year’s Day, there are news reports from South Africa that the worst of the Omicron wave has passed — a peak that came some six weeks after the variant’s first cases.

If the scientific and medical data holds to be true elsewhere, then some of the restrictions that have been brought back across much of Europe might prove to be very temporary in nature. If there is a lesson, it is that vaccines remain our best weapon against Covid-19 and its variants. By the time 2023 rolls around, we might all be getting annual coronavirus jabs to counter the strains that will naturally spin off from the initial strain that caused so much death and despair in 2020 and 2021.

But what else does 2022 have in store? We live in a nation that is still basking in the afterglow of turning 50, one that has sent a mission through darkest space to explore Mars, and one that has welcomed the world in the greatest and largest international Expo yet. In the coming months, Expo will remain as a shining example of the best that our homeland has to offer, where visitors from around the world can experience the vision and outlook of the UAE. Our international airports will once more be the hub of global travel.

Across the region, voters will have choices in Libya, seeking to lay a stable framework after more than a decade of divisions since the overthrow of the Gadaffi regime. In Lebanon, a nation creaking under economic and social strains, voters must also choose a path for the future.

In 2022, we must remain vigilant against the challenge posed by the regime in Iran, and we must ensure that peace prevails where there is conflict.

We hope that 2022 brings growth and prosperity, where the global marketplace fully powers up to ensure goods are readily available to all who need them as the pandemic rescinds. And above all, may we each stay safe, happy and healthy.