New Year in UAE: Residents plan small house parties as Covid cases increase – News

Citizens and expats cut back on large meetings and instead choose to spend time only with immediate family members

Photo: File

Posted: Sun 26 Dec 2021, 15:03

Last update: Mon 27 Dec 2021, 00:34

The UAE is preparing to welcome 2022 with fireworks, drones, lights and dazzling performances.

But many residents plan to celebrate the New Year with muted celebrations given the upsurge in Covid-19 cases.

People are having small house parties as Covid cases put a damper on year-end celebrations for the second year, forcing citizens and expats to cut back on usual parties.

Residents cut back on large gatherings with friends and instead choose to spend time only with their immediate family members while planning to watch Dubai’s iconic fireworks from the comfort of their own homes.

Despite the insecurities and the threat of an endless pandemic, people are also trying to keep the spirits alive as the celebrations remain muted.

Mohammad Falaknaz and his family.  Photo: Supplied

Mohammad Falaknaz and his family. Photo: Supplied

Mohammad Falaknaz, UAE national, says: “Dubai is a very busy city. People from all over the world come here to celebrate their New Years. We never travel on New Years. Also, I think each emirate has its own set of unique attractions, and if you venture out to see each of these attractions or as many as you can, it’s pretty exciting. With the onset of the pandemic, local tourism also became very popular which, frankly, previously was not part of our culture. So, I will be traveling across the country during this holiday season. Tourism was also picking up earlier, with the pandemic diminishing, but with the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, I think people have started to take extra precautions again. “


He adds: “On New Years we usually have a barbecue in our garden and watch the fireworks from the house. Besides, one can watch different UAE fireworks live on TV. So why not enjoy the comfort of your own home? Another problem is the traffic situation on New Years Eve. So, we prefer to stay indoors and enjoy this moment with our loved ones. As a law-abiding citizen, I would also limit gathering in my home to immediate family or loved ones as the new variant continues to pose a threat across the world.

Another Dubai resident believes being cautious is the way to go in this rapidly evolving situation rather than letting the pandemic take its toll.

Valeria Bach.  Photo: Supplied

Valeria Bach. Photo: Supplied

US expat Valeriya Bach said: “We did not go out for Christmas or throw a big party given the surge in coronavirus cases. We won’t be venturing over New Years either. A lot of people still don’t adhere to basic protocols like wearing masks properly and most places are crowded on New Years Eve. As I live in JBR, we will watch the fireworks from our balcony. My mother-in-law and my brother-in-law, who live downstairs in the same building, will be going up to dinner. So, I’m just going to have a nice dinner for everyone that day.

Bach adds: “We had planned to travel to Israel in January. But now even that has been postponed as flights are being canceled due to the Omicron strain. Some countries have already slammed their doors once more as the pandemic increases in many countries. So it is better not to take any risks and stay safe here as the weather is good and Dubai is a very attractive destination for everyone.

Although the widespread rollout of the vaccine in countries appears to offer a respite from the worst of the pandemic situation, residents reiterate that the emergence of the Omicron variant has thrown another wrench into what was viewed as post-pandemic life.

Adilatul and his family.  Photo: Supplied

Adilatul and his family. Photo: Supplied

Malaysian expat Adilatul says: “There is no definite plan for New Years Eve yet. We could go to Oman for a few days, given the Covid-19 situation. Otherwise, as we live in the city (in Abu Dhabi city), we will go to see the fireworks. My house is usually open for my friends on New Years Eve, where people come, and we chat, relax, and have a little informal gathering. But this year, as cases keep increasing, we need to be more careful about the number of heads. It’s only been the past two years that we’ve been here in the United Arab Emirates at this time of year; we have always traveled because schools remain closed and it is very festive everywhere.

Echoing similar thoughts, Indian expat Hozefa Arsiwala said, “My relatives live in the same building as us, and every year we celebrate New Years Eve with them. But this year, their entire family has tested positive for Covid. Thus, our New Year’s celebrations, which were only for close relatives, are completely excluded and it is not planned to venture out at all, as most places would be crowded. I think it’s important to follow all Covid-19 protocols as much as possible. Celebrations can always resume once the pandemic has completely subsided. “

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