It was six in the morning and people were rushing to work, roads started to fill with traffic as everyone wanted to reach offices and schools. Mohammed Bin Zayed Street is jammed with cars. After a few hours, everyone's eyes were on the clock as when it struck 2, half of them could go back home while the rest of them would wait until 5 to do the same.
The United Arab Emirates never sleeps; things were running at midnight as it was early in the morning. Everything was good until the first confirmed case of COVID-19.
It was the 29th of January 2020, when people became anxious because of the news that the virus reached the UAE. As months passed, the anxiety level increased with the increased of COVID-19 cases in the country. But even so, morale is still high in the United Arab Emirates because the government made sure that people were not worried. The leaders encouraged them to be vigilant about what's happening, but advised them not to be anxious.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, reassured the whole country that food and medicine supplies would never get short. In return, he asked the people to take care of themselves and trust the government.
The national sterilization program started on the 22nd of March as a part of the government's initiatives to combat COVID-19 and they implemented a lockdown at night for the disinfection.
Schools were then the first place to be taken into consideration as the safety of UAE's young leaders and ambassadors – the country's youth, is a priority.
Schools were closed on the 8th of March 2020, but education didn't stop for the students in the UAE as the classes shifted online.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, said "It is true schools were shut down, universities were closed but education will never stop. It is like healthcare, it will never halt whatever the circumstances."
The United Arab Emirates is home to people from various countries, with around 25% of the population local and the rest from the other parts of the world. It has taken responsibility not only to the locals but also to all expatriates residing in the country.
The whole country has come together and has taken measures to combat this pandemic. While working in the country, the government and the leaders also made sure to help the other countries around the world by sending them medical equipment because they believed that this is not only a challenge for the country but also for the whole world.
Seeing the love and dedication of UAE's leaders and frontliners to ensure everyone's safety made people came out to their balconies one night and sang the national anthem as a tribute to the country's heroes. The most special part was that the majority of the people who participated were from other countries. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan commented that "Many residents on social media are singing our national anthem and I want to confess to all viewers that when I heard you, by God, I shed a tear." His Highness got emotional seeing the residents' love for the country.
It wasn't that things did not go serious in the country; it went serious and it resulted in a lockdown that was necessary to ensure everyone's safety. It started with a complete lockdown in Dubai and was carried on to partial lockdowns in other emirates. Things went serious, but this country proved that nothing can let them down. Malls, gyms, schools, universities, offices, and every other workplace closed, but medical workers, the police, and the government worked day and night to protect us. They are our frontline heroes.
The United Arab Emirates developed a smart helmet, which could trace people in crowds with high temperatures. This made it easier for officials on the ground.
The whole world was in awe when the first stem cell treatment was successful in Abu Dhabi. Although it doesn't kill the virus, it increases the chance of survival and recovery of the patients. Seventy-five people were first tested with this treatment, and it worked.
The way the country has been handling the situation gives people hope that things can come back stronger; it has made them feel secure.
At present, things are in control, lockdowns are easing, and all thanks go to our leaders, our hardworking medical workers, the police, and our government workers. Private sectors, from malls to educational institutions, also do their part by implementing stringent measures to keep their premises well-sanitized and safe.
I hope that students like me will prove to the UAE that taking care of us now is the best decision. We can do that by making this country proud of us in the near future.
This pandemic has brought pain to us, but with it comes precious realizations and insights: we have come to know our strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to gain love and respect.
Although we lost some things, we also gained a lot.