Dubai: A Canadian tourist who came to Dubai in February this year says she does not mind being stuck in the country, and actually prefers to stay here more than anywhere else in the world.
Rosy Abi Nader, a Canadian national of Lebanese origin, arrived in Dubai for a short vacation on February 21. This was not her first visit to the city as she used to come here when she was a child. However, this has definitely been the longest she has stayed in the UAE.
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“I came to Dubai for a short vacation as a treat to myself after receiving my Bachelor in Law degree from Université de Montréal,” Rosy told Gulf News.
“Coronavirus had still not reached the level of a pandemic and I knew it was safe to travel. I even sought the opinion of a doctor in Montreal and he said it was safe to travel. So, I packed my bags and flew to Dubai,” she added.
Rosy continued: “Everything was normal when I arrived — there was no need for face masks, gloves or PPEs [personal protective equipment] at the airport. There was nothing alarming and I passed on as a regular tourist.”
Rosy enjoyed the cool weather and the scenic backdrops in the UAE over the next few days — hopping from one emirate to the next. But after a month, when it was time for her to return to Canada, things took a different turn. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, airports were closed and her return flight was cancelled.
Tourists in the time of coronavirus
Days of waiting for regular flights to resume turned into weeks and months. Rosy had the opportunity to go back to Canada via chartered or repatriation flights, but she said she opted to stay.
“Tickets were very expensive to return home and I felt safer to remain in Dubai,” she pointed out.
Rosy has been in the UAE for five months now. She has visited all the emirates and stayed in several hotels across the country.
I’ve stayed in at least 18 hotels across Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman in the past five months.
“I’ve stayed in at least 18 hotels across Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman in the past five months. Mostly, they were beachside hotels so I always got a fine view,” she said.
Rosy said she did not regret her decision to stay on. “Although there was no socialising because of the pandemic, I had more time for myself. I followed a routine. I caught up with reading books, enjoyed watching a lot of movies and also had a chance to improve my culinary skills.”
“I tried various cuisine and learned to cook Lebanese meals — I took photos and sent them to my mum. More importantly, I brushed up on my Arabic reading and writing,” she shared.
But there were also times when Rosy had bouts of anxiety and felt homesick. “I cried a lot during the first couple of months when I got stuck here. There was only virtual communication with my family. But I became used to it and the people at the hotel became like family to me,” she said.
“My decision to stay was voluntary. I really enjoyed. Although on the downside, I accumulated a lot of credit card debt,” Rosy added.
“However, it turned out staying here was cheaper than going home. Buying food here was cheaper and I’m enjoying my time,” she underlined.
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After five months of staying in Dubai, Rosy said she was considering staying here for a longer period of time.
“I have a good university degree and I will now be looking for a job,” she told Gulf News.
She added: “I think I would stay here. To put it simply, when a place you visited became your second home, it would be hard to leave and say goodbye.”