Life in Lockdown: Helen Mellor-Mitchell, Dubai
Caption: Helen Mellor-Mitchell
Caption: Helen Mellor-Mitchell<
My husband and I have lived in Dubai for just over four years. In November 2015, I was approached for the role of VP Brand & Communications for Dubai Airports and three months later we became expats. We had never even visited Dubai, let alone considered living here but, after a whirlwind trip for interviews (and a spot of sightseeing), we fell for the place so, after 13 years in London, we made the decision to relocate.
Of course, it took a while to adjust. We had a vast social circle in London and worked in an industry with a busy after work culture. Particularly in the early months, we missed our friends and family, but we soon had plenty of visitors.
Dubai attracts an adventurous, open minded crowd so we quickly made a lot of friends and started to lead busy social lives. The city has so much to offer so there was never a dull moment and always an excuse for a pool day or a Friday brunch. That is until March 2020 when the coronavirus and the fear of it, started to really hit.
At first conferences began to be cancelled, but then the nurseries, schools and universities closed and those were followed by the attractions that Dubai is so well known for – the theme parks, the restaurants, the beaches and, of course, the malls.
From 22 March, all but essential workers were told to stay at home. Now that we are in our third week of lockdown measures, with a 24/7 nationwide disinfection programme underway, we are required to apply for a permit just to leave the house, with permission being granted for essential shopping trips only and with that only one family member at a time may go. It is now 10 days since I’ve left the house.
As I’ve been working as a consultant for the past 18 months, I’m used to working from home so being productive in this environment wasn’t a difficult adjustment. Although, with so many projects on hold, there’s been little to be productive with.
After a week of zero work and utter laziness, I started trying to create a routine – filling my calendar in an attempt to give days some structure, with varied success. Some days I do manage to do the scheduled workout, read the marketing news, refresh my French skills and bake banana bread. On other days, I spend an unhealthy amount of time on Twitter or just reading a book by the pool.
I’m used to video calling family and friends to stay in touch but in the past few weeks I’ve been in touch with friends who I haven’t spoke to for months or even years and I’m cognizant that I am extremely lucky with my isolation conditions compared to most. I’m with my husband and two cats, in a spacious villa with beautiful weather and a pool to enjoy.
Being Dubai, you can get just about anything delivered. Even the best restaurants are now available and even the famous Dubai brunches have gone virtual. I don’t think I would have coped half as well if we were still in our flat in London. Even here in Dubai, we are luckier than most; I think of single friends on the 60th floor of a tower block, or families with kids who can’t go out and play.
Despite being blessed with this environment, I’m stressed and worried as everyone is. I worry about my parents, who are in good health but over 70 and living in badly affected countries. I worry about all my friends and family around the world. I worry about how long we will be living like this and what state the world will be in when it finally ends. I’m lucky to be somewhere I feel relatively safe, where such decisive action was taken early to halt the rapid spread of the disease that we see in western European nations and in America, and I wish this was the case for others less fortunate.
Stay safe everyone!
Helen’s report was first published on 29 April in 4Dorset Magazine – Life in Lockdown issue. ‘Life in Lockdown’ aims to shine a light on how people’s lives have been affected by lockdown and how they are surviving.
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