As we step into another month of social distancing, FACT asked some of the UAE’s very own residents to share their experience of living through a global pandemic in 2020…
Director of Communication, The Qode
Despite the undeniable impact and repercussions that many of us will have to face post the global pandemic, I choose to focus on the positive. On a professional level, it has definitely propelled my team and I to become more resourceful and further explore technology as part of the effective work solutions post-covid. It also contributed to accelerating the digital transformation in communication for our region and forced brands to think in digital terms more than ever, definitely a learning opportunity.
On a personal level, social distancing has presented me with the much-desired time to spend with my teenage son, soon to go away to university. It forced me to slow down, get out of the race and look at what really matters. Despite the chaos and uncertainty that we are all facing at the moment, I am at peace knowing that having no control over the situation, the universe is allowing me to recharge, do what I enjoy most besides my work. I read, listen to music and dance more. I work out with my family, go through old photos, cook better food, meditate, things I otherwise don’t have the time to enjoy much of. Once this is over, and it will be over, I will resume life with a recharged tank, a different perspective and renewed gratitude for things we take for granted.
Founder & CEO of TishTash
I can only describe covid-19 as an emotional rollercoaster. I had sleepless nights worrying about losing my business. I suffered anxiety stepping foot out of my door and touching everything with my elbow fearing for my health. I wondered if I’d ever see my family again. But I also watched the sunset every day from my terrace with newfound awe and amazement. I wore no make-up and my skin glowed. We were all so much kinder to each other. I treasured my daily Zoom calls with my family in locations across the world and I looked at everything with new eyes and appreciation.
Co-founder of POP Communications
Life during social distancing and the lockdown has certainly been different. Myself, my husband, my brother and our dog have been practicing social distancing and working from home for over four weeks now, which is crazy to think it’s been that long. Being in the UAE I would say is probably one of the best places to be during this time because they implemented this early and I feel safe. Positive impacts I’ve experienced personally during this time include learning to slow down a bit and not feel guilty for it. Being the co-founder of a busy communications agency, I am so used to juggling a lot all at once and work never ending. So, I am using this time to relax if I want to relax, read if I want to, spend several hours wasted looking at the internet if I want and not worrying about it. Professionally, work has naturally slowed during this time, we have experienced it across all our clients, however we are using this time to do a lot of business admin that usually gets pushed aside during business season, such as; re-working our company profile and company processes, and implementing a new social media strategy for our own pages – to name a few things that are keeping us and the team busy!
Things that are currently helping me get through this time personally are; making sure I still wake up early during the week days, and getting ‘ready’ for the day. I make my bed every morning, which I feel helps kick-off the day right! I make sure I take coffee and lunch breaks as I normally would, and do a work out daily – this has actually been a real-life saver, even if it’s just a 20-minute gentle stretch class found on YouTube. Doing some form of exercise daily (during the week) has really helped keep me mentally on track.
Business wise, I am so thankful to have an amazing business partner and an amazing team. The support we have had from our team during this time has really made me so thankful for them and I can see their commitment and loyalty – it makes me so excited for the future! Tips for work – I think it’s so important to have someone who understands what you do to talk to daily, vent out any frustrations as well as guide and support each other. I recommend checking in with your colleagues/friends/business partners daily. What I’ve learnt is we are all in this together and we need to support each other and it’s ok to have off days.
Co-Director at MVM & Co.
When going through any major change in life, it’s going to be difficult to adapt. We’re currently living in unprecedented times and it’s crucial to try to make the most of it in any positive way. Quarantine for me, as for any other individual, has been quite challenging,however, I’ve been trying to utilise this time to really reflect. On a personal level, I’ve actually had the time to work on my art which I was extremely passionate about when I was younger and have been yearning to get back into for a long time. I find it very therapeutic particularly when I’ve had a rough day.
Not being with family and friends is also hard. For some strange reason, I find myself connecting with them even more I now find us constantly catching up and being there for each other more than ever. Having the right support system makes a world of a difference and I’m truly blessed to have incredible friends who have been there for me when I’ve felt overwhelmed. In terms of business, as with any start-up, it’s natural to feel a huge shift there. My business partner and I have been utilizing this time not only to support our current clients as much as we can but also focusing on new business strategies. We also find that during times like this, being able to give back to the community is crucial and trying to provide other businesses that may be struggling with the support they need. Although this pandemic has had an extremely negative impact on the economy across many industries, as a business owner you must learn to change with the current and find new ways to adapt your business model. In the past, life was so fast-paced and time was truly a luxury. Being able to find some form of downtime though has been somewhat of a blessing in order to allow me to really reflect and try to look at where I see myself in the next few years.
Co-Founder and Lead Copywriter at STREET FZC
Typically, I’m a hurricane on a weekday, blowing through my to-do list. Quarantine has made many people and businesses — including my ad agency — slow down. Settling into this quiet has driven home how critical community is. These are members of your family or chosen family, who make you more self-aware and explore with you: swapping recipes, turning an acquaintance into a friend, or having virtual plant-potting parties. They contribute to your happiness and revive your creativity. So, for the rest of this quarantine, I’ll be cocooned in here, with my people.
Communications Director, The Qode
I think that the Covid 19 crisis has taught me the art of accepting difficult situations as opposed to my natural response which has always been resistance. It was Eckart Tole, in his book A New Earth, who first introduced me to the concept of making peace with ‘what is’. Personally, it has been about learning to surrender to the global situation and making peace with the fact that there isn’t much we can do about this pandemic – except stay home in the hope that it is contained. It is about acknowledging that the current situation is not unique to me and definitely not a personal challenge. Shifting my perception from ‘my’ situation to ‘our’ situation has been key in diluting the stress of it all. Time spent worrying about something that we have very little control over is simply time and energy wasted.
Working from home has been a blessing in disguise as it has given me the opportunity to spend time doing a lot of the simple things that long hours in the office often prevented me from doing. It has given me the chance to better connect with family and loved ones and also a time to plan for the future, without the constant noise that was once associated with our lives before Corona. Ironically, this time has been peaceful for me and a time when I have excelled spiritually in many ways. I have been careful not to be too hard on myself with productivity and work out targets, instead gave myself the chance to slow down for once.
Style Expert & Business Mentor
Whilst this has been a far from ideal situation for anyone, the “one day when I have time,” has become a reality and I am embracing it with ‘no excuses’. My day still starts the same, I wake up at the same time – 6am, meditate then work out. There is less pressure to rush to emails first thing, so I spend time on my balcony writing in my journal. I am upskilling and doing a great online course, plus my work mentoring is also all online so I am still able to service my clients. I did think by now I would be climbing the walls, but knowing that everyone else is in the same position– keeps me going.
Account Manager, Q Communications
Well, to say life has been a little different would be an understatement, but honestly, I think the first few weeks WFH were mainly spent adjusting to the new #StayHome lifestyle. Now, a month in, I definitely feel like I’ve got myself into a good routine, which is definitely important. I was missing my classes at UnderdogBoxn but they were amazing and posted classes for free on social, so I get up in the morning and do that, coffee, breakfast and to the work station to crack on with the day. I think there is an expectation for everyone to learn something new during this time, but personally I believe it’s a gift of time to reconnect with the things that you’ve always loved, for me, that’s been art and I’ve really enjoyed and embraced having more time to paint.
Captain Adidas Runners Dubai & Abu Dhabi
Where to start, this time has been testing for sure, my wife and I both work full time and we have two little girls aged three and five. As you can imagine, it has been a stressful juggling act, with my wife being a teacher and my girls needing to stick to a virtual learning schedule. We are making it work as a team, our little #hometeam. We have always been an active family, this is one mantra we are trying to maintain during this time for everyone’s wellbeing; adapting to new challenges in new spaces and ensuring we keep it fun, always! We are also clearly focused on using this time to upskill. Through the adidas #hometeam initiative, I took on my most mentally and physically challenging runs to date over the weekend by running 100km in my garden, a space that is only 30m end-to-end in 13hrs 50mins 42secs. Stay strong, we are all in this together!
Dr. Fiona Cowie
GP injector at Dermalase Clinic (Al Wasl)
Covid-19 has made a massive impact on all our lives in the past few weeks but not all of it has been bad. For me, it has given me time to spend with my daughter which as a busy doctor I don’t usually have. We chat more, cook together, and watch movies as well as keeping in touch with all of our family in the UK on Zoom. I have also had time to undertake online medical education courses which is hard to fit in usually. Colleagues from work keep morale up by keeping in touch daily via group WhatsApp and we also have group online meetings scheduled to chat about what we have been doing in quarantine and new ideas for the business. Our supervisors also keep us updated regularly on work issues. Quarantine has its challenges if you enjoy being outdoors but can equally be seen as a positive time to bond with family and colleagues and to all work together towards a better future.
I’ve had time to define my values – family, friendship, personal growth – and weigh my plans. Are they aligned or am I trying to prove myself to strangers? I’ve shifted how I show up on social media, how my assistant views the business, and my next project (a journaling course) which feels so expansive. Time connecting with family is more precious than ever and each call I aim to talk about how we’re feeling, not just quick check ins. It’s like we’re all growing up together, and when we see each other, we’ll be even more bonded because of all this.
Author & Empathetic Influencer
It feels like we have been inside forever, yet the days themselves fly by. As an author, I have found far more time to write and to create than I ever have before, although the inspiration you so often find in humanity, in all its mundane glory, is certainly missing. Creativity has always been known to flourish in adverse scenarios and I have found the power of contagious storytelling amongst the fear of a contagion outside our walls. For that I am grateful. When the doors finally open again, I wonder often whether we will find the same world that we left behind?
Regional Brand Manager MENA, Lush Cosmetics
Am I allowed to say I am loving quarantine? Working in retail our business came to a screeching halt overnight, aside from our online business which skyrocketed, our saving grace. I am now working part-time from home, at first, I was terrified and now I am using my extra time to get back to doing things that make me feel whole. It’s rare these days you see me without a facemask or a hair mask on, sitting on my balcony and enjoying my time, having zero commitments and slowing down. Personally, and professionally, if we can survive quarantine, we can survive anything!