Dubai residents01
Dubai residents and tourists enjoy evening strolls and great food at the The Walk in JBR. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: In a bid to curtail the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 in the UAE, the Ministry of Economy earlier this week announced a series of temporary closures of public places and entertainment areas across the emirates.

Residents and visitors have also been prohibited entry to pool areas, gyms and more.

At Gulf News, we asked residents in the UAE what these changes mean to them.

They said some of the highlights are sure to be saving on money, bonding with the family and more importantly, reassessing things in their lives.

Twinkle Chettiar, 44, Indian

Her entertainment expenses are going to fall big time. “Every weekend my husband and I with the children head out to restaurants for dining out. My husband and I love to sheesha every now and then, go to bars. All this is closed now. While we will miss all this, I cannot help thinking how much of a money saver this is all going to be. With no avenues left to spend, there is going to be a lot of money coming into our wallets.”

Chettiar also said as a family being forced to stay indoors – there will be a lot of bonding happening. “I had a chance to play chess and carom with my son. This has not happened in a long time. I have been learning knitting from [my] son, too. It is amazing. [At the] end of the day it is all about finding positivity in everything happening around you.”

Petra Walker, 52

The positive psychology practitioner and coach living in Dubai, could not agree more.

“People will be saving money by not being able to go out for dinner, brunches, etc. People with children can use the time to start teaching their kids, especially teens. It is a great opportunity for children to bond with family, learn to cook inexpensive meals, which will prove to be a great experience for their future.”

She said people can also save money by taking advantage of the desert and the weather right now, taking a staycation instead of travelling abroad.

Walker, however said, the forced self-isolation period can be a great time to reassess their spending and how they live their lives. “There will be a lot of people with clothes in their wardrobes that still have tags on, items in cupboards that they no longer need. Maybe this is a time they can sort these items out, become a little more minimal.”

She advised UAE residents to take time to assess their eating habits and fall into some healthy habits if possible. “Make time to go for a walk and get into home-based exercise routines. They could even take the time to look online for free courses to expand knowledge in areas that will be helpful for their work when life gets back to normal.

Adele Bezuidenhout, South African

She's not sure how much money she is going to save. But one thing for sure, she is having a great time bonding with her children. “Trust me, when the children go to school, I pack a meal in their lunch box and that is it. Now that they are at home, we seem to be ordering food all the time. So I don’t know if we are saving anything.”

“Having said that as a family we don’t indulge in brunches and dining outs every weekend. Our entertainment budget is quite low. The only thing we spend on is visit to the Ferrari theme park. This too we have bought an annual package which is a huge money saver.”

What Bezuidenhout is particularly pleased about is that the family have been doing things together.

“We try to do one in door activity a day. Examples are playdoh, playing cards, board-games, watching movies and enjoying being at home.”

Maria Antonenko, 25, Russian

She and her husband, Dal, usually grab breakfast in a fancy restaurant every Friday. "I have not really counted, but I assume we spend nearly Dh1,000 a month on this. Now we will cook it ourselves at home and have it in our garden. It is a money saver."

Antonenko is also a fitness enthusiast, a trainer, coach all in one. She said with Dubai Economy closing down the gym, fitness centres have announced they are freezing the membership of gym goers.

"This is another money saver as this means our membership will be extended. But I will greatly miss going to my regular workouts and training people. Hope the situation comes under control soon. Until then, I will spend quality time with my spouse."

One private company announces 'work-from-home' policy
Some private companies too have started implementing this. Tomi Saikkonen-Williams, VP at Liana Technologies, has started implementing remote working system for his staff. "During the current outbreak of the coronavirus, we understand our capability of stopping the virus from spreading is limited, however, as a responsible company and group of individuals, we are committed to doing our part to protect staff and customers by working online.

"Our business is online communications so our move to remote working has been seamless. As a business we shall continue to fact check news related to the virus and continue to implement safety measures until further notice.

"We are doing our best to support our loyal customers during this challenging time," he said.