The Dubai Canal near Business Bay. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

If you could use one word to describe 2020, what would it be?

UAE residents have shared what first comes to mind when they look back at 2020, rolling up their thoughts and feelings into one word. Not surprisingly, “challenging” times were common themes, but there were also “promising” ones.

No doubt the world has gone through a lot this year, dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. But amid the fog of uncertainty, which seems to have engulfed us from all sides, there are also glows of light pointing to a way out. With many people now committed to the new normal, and with the beginning of vaccinations against the pandemic, there seems to be a new dawn breaking on the horizon of 2021.

But at the beginning of 2020, when the pandemic started to spread globally, there was perhaps more fear than hope for what was to come. Here are some words used by residents to show what 2020 meant to them.

Hamdy Bahnasy, Egyptian, 41, senior public health and safety officer, Dubai Municipality.


Hamdy Bahnasy

As a senior public health and safety officer at Dubai Municipality, I and my colleagues didn’t stop working when the pandemic stuck. In fact, our work increased by, say, 500 per cent. We were going here and there, everywhere, with full PPEs on. It was challenging at first to get people to commit in such a short time to the new rules, but working together, we did a great job.

Zubair Haider, Pakistani, 41, marketing professional


Zubair Haider

I would say it was a year marked by family-time. Most people, like me, worked from home for a few months. From a family point of view, it was good. Most families only come together on the weekends, but with Work From Home and distance learning, we were always together. It wasn’t always easy but it reminded us that family is important, our time together is important.

Ajesh Kuniyil, Indian, 39, works in the insurance sector



Ajesh Kuniyil

The world was plunged into a different dimension because we had to shift online. The pandemic was a wake-up call; it showed us we need to be prepared. Within this ‘COVID package’, also came the promising idea that if we’re wise enough, we can make the best out of our challenges.

Peter Davos, American, 41, founder and CEO of Hale Education


2020 was a rollercoaster of emotions, uncertainty, and challenges, but like all storms, it has thankfully passed.

Peter Davos

2020 was a rollercoaster of emotions, uncertainty, and challenges, but like all storms, it has thankfully passed.

Meher Mirchandani, Indian, director, Manrre Logistics Fund


Meher Mirchandani

It was a time to reflect on all areas of life — adapt to the current environment and evolve from the learning.