Clockwise from left: Ahmad Al Zarooni, Dr Sherbaz Bichu, Souzie Mackay, Farzaneh Tavakoli, Debrie Dela Cruz, Paulina Zdoblak and Nouha Bouallegue. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Today – January 29 – marks a year since the first case of COVID-19 was announced in the UAE. As Dubai residents look back at the past 12 months and take stock of the current situation, COVID-19, no doubt, is still on their minds. But with a difference.

Speak to anyone from any walk of life, and there is an unmistakeable sense of moving on. Their trials, tribulations and triumphs in the year gone by may be personal and varied. But if there is one common refrain amidst it all, it’s how thankful they are to be living in Dubai.

Residents say they feel completely safe in Dubai as they trust the authorities to ensure life returns to normal with necessary precautions in place. They acknowledge their critical role in the process, and hope others too will abide by the safety measures to win the war against the virus.

Here’s what Dubai residents from a cross-section of the society have to say:

Ahmad Al Zarooni, Emirati, Tech Entrepreneur

“The Government of Dubai is handling the COVID-19 situation with thoughtful and balanced strategies and robust controls while maintaining economic activities. We are seeing some incredible work by the front lines and the rest of the forces."

Ahmad Al Zarooni

We feel safe and secure with great confidence in the government’s approach and the way it is handling the worldwide challenge.

“The availability of the vaccine for all residents and visitors distinguishes us and shows that health and safety is the government’s priority. We need to be vigilant and support the government efforts in following safety measures and simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning hands regularly and monitoring ourselves for any symptoms.”

Dr Sherbaz Bichu, Indian, CEO, Aster Hospitals and Aster Clinics & Specialist Anesthetist

“I oversee 70 clinics and four hospitals and I can tell you that few countries have handled COVID-19 like the UAE."

Dr Sherbaz Bichu

Dubai’s unified approach has made sure things are well organised and there is a common, focused strategy and understanding

“We now know the behaviourial pattern of the virus and what we are dealing with. Excellent healthcare, wide availability of vaccines, stringent precautionary measures, public awareness campaigns, tele health and health at home initiatives by the government have made a huge difference to people’s lives.”

Souzie Mackay, British, Mum of Girl with Angelman’s Syndrome

“The pandemic has been tough for everyone and our story is a little different. We have observed social distancing and drastically reduced the number of contacts we see and places we go to."

Souzie Mackay

Even over those periods when there was some relaxation in protocols, with very vulnerable people in our household, we have just had to keep up our efforts.

“We appreciate the efforts here in Dubai to keep us all safe. We shall continue to do our bit and hopefully precipitate an end to these extraordinary circumstances.”

Farzaneh Tavakoli, Iranian, Commercial Manager at a petroleum company

“As someone who recently contracted COVID-19, I can safely say I have seen first hand the exemplary efforts taken by the UAE government to take care of its residents and visitors."

Farzaneh Tavakoli

Today, Dubai is one of the safest places to live in amid a pandemic. There is no other place I would rather be.

“The rules and regulations are all in place. People have to just follow the, wear masks and keep a safe distance from each other.”

Debrie Dela Cruz , Filipino, Finance and Administrative Assistant

“As residents, we can see the great efforts being made by the authorities to vaccinate as many people as they can for free."

Debrie Dela Cruz

Where else in the world do you see such a massive drive to vaccinate people and so quickly?

“I’m very confident that the government is doing its best to control the spread of the virus. It is also constantly reminding people to follow precautionary measures. As a resident, I feel safe living here.”

Nouha Bouallegue, Tunisian, Product Launch Manager

“I have been living in Dubai for 17 years. During COVID-19, the government has been transparent sharing updates. At the same time, regulations are being updated to suit the changes as per the health authority directives. For example, the rules at restaurants and sports entities.

Nouha Bouallegue

The vaccinations are being provided everywhere free of charge. This is a big WOW factor.

Pauline Zdobylak, German, Teacher

“I trust the government’s initiatives to keep its residents safe."

Pauline Zdobylak

I work as a teacher and I know the great efforts taken by my school to keep the students and teachers safe.”