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Filipina expat in Dubai Angelynn Villanueva will miss her mother Maria Evelyn Villanueva this New Year. Many residents are unable to meet their loved ones this season due to Covid-19 restrictions as the year comes to a close. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The year 2020 has been tough. Dealing with a pandemic of such magnitude has not been easy at all on many. As the year comes to a close and with travel, quarantine measures in place for many countries, plus with the rising COVID-19 cases around the world, many UAE residents told Gulf News that they have no choice but to spend New Year’s away from loved ones.

Take the case of Indian expat Sarah Kashyap, age 35, hailing from Chandigarh. She lost her job to COVID-19 in September. She is looking for a job here and has no plans to head home to spend New Year’s with loved ones. “The last three months has been a struggle. My father visited me in Dubai during February 2020, the rest of the family has not seen me since June 2019.”

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She added that she was struggling to find a direct flight to Chandigarh. “There were no direct flights to Chandigarh and there were so many unknown rules and regulations regarding travel — it really put me off. I have finally got a direct flight for January 15 and I am heading home to see my parents, brother, his wife and my four-year-old nephew.”

Missing my mother

Filipina expat Angelynn Villanueva, 44, will be missing her mother Maria Evelyn Villanueva, 69, this New Year. “She always travels to Dubai during Christmas and New Year as most of my family is here. This year will be a bit sad as she will not be travelling due to COVID-19.”

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Angelynn said she and her relatives keep up the spirit of the season. “Albeit, our heart will be in Philippines.” She added: “I hope that everyone does the same by keeping their positivity up despite COVID-19. We must all take advantage of the New Year’s to feel safe that we are doing good. There are so many things to be grateful for and let us stop taking each other for granted. Many people have been impacted for COVID-19, it has been a trying year for all. Let us all help each other out to make this world a better place despite the pandemic.”

Travel restrictions

As a single mother managing life on her own, French-Canadian expat Hélène Garcia knows the value and importance of being there for one another. Hélène, who has been working as an aircraft maintenance engineer for over 35 years, finally started her own business in the UAE as an aviation technical consultant, just days before COVID-19 hit. “So you can imagine how tough it has been for me. I am happy to see the year end. I am blessed to have my daughter here with me but I have not seen my son for a couple of years now. I had plans to get him over here for the New Year’s but I simply cannot afford to fly him in.”

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Hélène Garcia

Finance is an issue for Hélène as she has had pretty much no income this year. “A Montreal-Dubai ticket is very expensive. Also with travel restrictions it has become so difficult to plan anything. I barely made enough income to survive myself this year how can I afford anything else? And so this year I will miss my son a lot.”

Emotionally difficult

British-Hungarian expat Agnes Kiss, is also missing her family. She will not be seeing her aged parents who are 75 years old as she does not want to pass on any risk of COVID-19 to them. An office manager at a private company in Dubai, Agnes has decided to stay put in Dubai itself for the festive season. “It will be emotionally difficult but with today’s technology and video calls, we will make sure to support each other from a distance. It is the second time in 25 years that I am not home with my parents for Christmas. It is very unusual for me. But this is the pandemic.”