Dubai: As the curtains come down on another year, it is time to pause, however fleetingly, to review the days gone by. The cliched business of life may prompt the cynic in us to just shrug our shoulders and let 2018 morph into 2019.
Yet, there will be that one overriding event, encounter or experience, perhaps even a set of them, that will flash in our minds, to be cherished or censured, depending on its impact.
The birth of a child, an unexpected windfall, a wedding to remember, a reunion with a long-lost friend, a trip to a faraway land — it could be anything that defines our overwhelming joy.
On the contrary, coping with a sudden job loss, a serious illness or the death of a loved one could be simply devastating.
The inevitable ups and downs notwithstanding, the countdown to the New Year has begun, bringing with it a renewed sense of hope and vigour.
As residents prepare to embrace 2019, they share with us their triumphs and tribulations in the year that is about to say goodbye:
Caroline Labouchere, 54, British grey model
“I found my voice as an ambassador for mature ladies in 2018. I might not have persuaded many to celebrate being grey, but I have encouraged a few to be more confident. On average, we will live much longer than previously expected so we are a growing demographic in the Middle East.
"We should stand together to add value as a collective; a community of knowledge and experience which deserves to be heard. Business is starting to take us seriously as an important sector in the market for clothes and fashion, lifestyle and influence. Grey no longer means invisible.”
Nermine Saadeh, 33, Syrian-Italian mum
“My son underwent an operation for the removal of a brain tumour in September, but now as the year closes, the MRI scan shows there is still a residual mass. In 2018, I learnt that bravery is a child smiling despite the pain, that parenthood shouldn’t be taken for granted, that the future is full of surprises and we have no control over the next minutes of our life.
"I also learnt The Power of Now and that life is good if you want it to be good. I learnt that love wins always, and that everything built on love is as tough as iron and is unbreakable.”
Feras Arafe, 36, Canadian entrepreneur (Influencers.ae)
“The rise of micro-influencers, concurrence with market demand of data and finally, a keen focus on content in 2018 placed huge challenges on the industry I am in. But I am proud that I happily met these challenges and now look forward to a lot more in 2019.”
Shaneer Siddiqui, 36, Indian PR executive
“2018 was a mixed bag for me. It was a great year on the work front and I grew from strength to strength professionally. On the home front, it was rather traumatic for my family as my sister was diagnosed with cancer.
"But she went through her treatment with so much courage that it taught us to be strong and positive. It is on this note that we wish to welcome 2019 — wishing everyone good health and happiness.”
Krishna, 20, Special needs artist
“I was happy, not sad. I tore many clothes, but made a carpet from the pieces. I broke toothbrushes but made an artwork. I learnt basketball. I painted a lot in 2018. Next year also, I want to paint and fly to America to show my paintings.”
Anishkaa Gehani, 35, Marketing professional
“2018 has been all about making conscious lifestyle decisions focusing on physical, mental, and emotional health. Personal and skill development topped the list, as I ensured to pursue my passion which over the years had taken a back seat.
"Switched to eating organic and healthy eating habits, while maintaining the right balance between sports, singing and spirituality. While 2018 set a great yardstick, I am looking forward to 2019 with adapting to a more happy and healthy lifestyle.”
Jhasmin Cipriano, 38, Filipino, learning assistant, living in Dubai
The year 2018 was the year we welcomed our first daughter, Brigid, after having tried to conceive for the past 11 years. We tried two fertility treatments before her but both failed. I wanted to try one last time but along with it, we changed our lifestyle by detoxing first and then by eating clean.
"I can’t explain how happy I was when I first got to hug and hold her in June. No other experience can top that. This 2019, we hope to embrace a vegan lifestyle because it was when we were eating clean when we conceived her. So it has now become our advocacy.”
Anastasiya Golovatenko, 33, PR Director at Sherpa Communications, Ukrainian
The most important thing that made my 2018 is the realisation that everything is possible in the country where we live. I like the UAE for being an amazing hub for so many businesses, technologies, but most importantly, how the UAE puts people first.
"You feel always supported and encouraged to do your best, and so you can focus on what you are passionate about.
"In August this year I got married. This is the event every girl is waiting for. So I’ll definitely remember 2018. I’m grateful that the UAE has become not only my 2nd home but also the place where I met my second half.
"My husband and I are from different countries, so the chances that we’d meet were pretty small. I look forward to building my family here with many adventures and positive moments ahead.
Sherif Magdy, 29, Egyptian, living in Dubai
My most memorable moment of 2018 was travelling with a group of my closest friends. We went to Amsterdam, had amazing food and enjoyed the cold weather, which was a nice change from the weather here in Dubai.
"We even took a canal cruise and saw many of the famous landmarks of the city. It was one of the best trips I had in 2018. Generally, travelling is one of my favourite things to do, and I hope to do a lot more in 2019.
Shaam Pudaruth, 33, CEO of a technical rental business, Mauritius
“2018 was the year I married my lovely wife, Adonia. We also got a puppy, a French bulldog which we named Fynn. My wife loves dogs and having a dog changes everything in the house.
"He’s very, very playful, sweet, adorable, we love having him around. Work was very eventful with concerts Red Fest, Enrique Iglesias, Blended concerts and many more. My parents also got to visit and attended our wedding ceremony.”
Destiny Opuku Mensah, Ghanian, 40, safety officer
“The year 2018 was a tough one, but I still thank God. Work-wise, we went through a lot. The market is slow and it affected many companies. I thank God that I still have a job. Personally, my family also went through a trial when my eldest son Shadrach was hospitalised for two months.
"He had a head injury from an accident 10 years ago and the complications only started recently. He was operated on and by the grace of God is now recovering.”