Clockwise from top left: Justine Welch, Nadine Al Huneidi, Layla King and Ismail Jawad. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: When was the last time you had a conversation that did not involve the novel coronavirus? Trust it was a long time ago when a virus was just a flu and did not involve the deadly five-letter word — COVID! It is hard to blame anyone if they have not spent an evening with friends without uttering the words COVID-19, virus, flu, pandemic or for that matter economy. Especially, given the fact that we are all living a ‘new normal’, one where you cannot step out without wearing a mask, or grapple with reduced salaries and dwindling incomes. Most dinner-table conversations these days are centred around these words.

However, some expats think this is slowly changing. They say that they have had enough of COVID-19 talk. While some are making a conscious effort to not utter the dreaded five-letter word every now and then, others feel that thanks to the UAE’s efforts to open outdoor life, there are now conversations happening that do not involve the pandemic and its impact. Take a look at what some of these people had to share.

‘It is important to be responsible’

Ismail Jawad

“It is time to move on — in a responsible way albeit,” said Indian expatriate, Ismail Jawad, 35, an equine veterinarian. “Yes! It is important to be responsible for yourself and others, but let your mind think about the other aspects of your life, things other than COVID-19. These last few months, I have consciously shifted the conversation topic with my friends, away from the pandemic. We talk about family, life, work. Trust me, there are things we can talk about besides COVID-19.”

Nadine Al Huneidi, 30, Palestinian, a wellness consultant in Dubai, could not agree more. “I don’t dwell on undesirable things. The more positive way the mind thinks in, the more positivity you attract in life. I personally don’t see the point of talking about COVID-19 at all. It just attracts negativity. I make it a point to focus on the positives of life and this is what I teach my clients as well.”

Taking the world by storm

Layla King

But Georgian expatriate Layla King, 50, said it can be a challenge not to be talking about the pandemic as it has pretty much taken the world by storm. And so when a friend invited her and a bunch of other people for a special Diwali lunch, she jumped at the idea. “It was such a welcome break. My friends and I had a blast. We laughed a lot, ate great food. I spent all of the Diwali week learning about the festival, Indian customs, their traditions and food. During the lunch, I learnt the significance of Diwali, the history of Indian mythology behind this grand festival, which has pretty much now become a universal celebration. The afternoon was well-spent with friends from different parts of the world and we all had such a fabulous time. And yes the conversation went on without uttering words like COVID-19, pandemic, virus, flu. We maintained social distancing, but we were happy and positive. And this is critical.”

‘A welcome break’

Justine Welch

British expat Justine Welch, 35, sales director for a private company admits that mindsets and conversations have moved away from the pandemic — thanks to Dubai opening up its public events. “The Dubai Fitness Challenge for one has really done so well for fitness enthusiasts. It has been such a welcome break. I have been on my own at various hotspots to try out a new workout routine. It has been such a welcome break.”

Welch added this, however, is not the case when she talks to her friends and family in the United Kingdom and the United States. “With lockdown in the UK, the pandemic is on top of people’s minds. But here in the UAE, the government has done so well to instil discipline in people to maintain social distancing. This has helped us to hold events and move on with our lives.”

She added: “Unless you move out of the conversation, find ways to be creative and stay physically active in a responsible manner, you will never be able to move on and see the brighter side of life. We cannot be in a lockdown mode forever.”