Those were not words I expected to type at the beginning of this year. 2020 was the year Expo would start, it’s a year we’ve had as a milestone since moving to Dubai. Never did we imagine it would be a milestone year for so many other reasons. We were never prepared to leave Dubai this year, there were still so many things I wanted to do.
This post is going to be a personal one about leaving Dubai during a global pandemic and how that’s made us feel. If you’re looking for a useful guide on how to actually leave Dubai then I have you covered here.
We Left Dubai because of COVID-19
Being an expat comes with so many positives but it also comes with some negatives and risks. The latter has been evident since this global pandemic started. When flights out of Dubai began being cancelled in March, home suddenly felt like a long way away. Something as an expat in Dubai we had never felt before. It had always been possible to jump on a plane and be home in less than a day if necessary. Still that ended up being the least of the negatives.
As many of you will know we were in Dubai because of my husband’s job at Expo 2020. Like most events around the world it was announced some time at the end of March/ early April that Expo would be postponed until 2021. We thought this would mean an extra year in Dubai but within weeks it meant something very different.
Losing an Expat gig in a Global Pandemic
Being made redundant in any ‘normal’ situation sucks but it has so many more implications when you’re at expat. Suddenly, the place you’ve called home for the previous years is no longer home. When you lose an expat gig it means moving your entire life to another country. Unless of course you manage to snag another job but when the world is in a global pandemic that’s very unlikely.
Moving countries with fairly short notice during COVID-19 meant we went into full on military operation. Every spare moment was put into working out everything that needed to be done to get out successfully. We couldn’t leave a stone unturned for fear of having a huge bill to pay next time we landed in Dubai. To top everything off I was still working right up until 3 days before we left.
I found it wasn’t until we started to think about all the things we would leave behind we realised how settled we were in Dubai life. Yes it was busy, yes it could be stressful but living in this desert city really did have it’s perks. We really learnt to live life to the max. It’s a city where basically everyone is an expat so community is at the heart of everything, people very quickly become your family away from home. And there is always something social planned.
As you can imagine we were not the only ones in this situation. Many of our Expo family were in the same situation which in many ways helped us to not feel so alone in the whole situation. We were all able to share experiences about certain processes or companies to support each other and everyone understood more or less how it felt.
It’s the question everybody is asking us and although it’s meant in the nicest of ways, can be frustrating at times. Sometimes the next step can take a few months to work out especially when you’ve just left the expat world. Add in COVID-19 and these next steps are going to take a little longer to work out. One thing we do know for sure is that our baby girl is due in November and it would be nice to have a plan before she arrives.
For me, the next few months will be taken slowly and cautiously. COVID-19 has had a profound effect on our life and I’m not about to become responsible to for spreading it further. I think having been directly effected by the pandemic makes it more real for us. Not only did it cause us to leave Dubai but we also knew many people who tested positive for the virus and spent time in hospital.
This does however mean more free time for hobbies such as this blog that has been neglected a lot in the past year or so as well as a couple of other creative ideas I have brewing.
I’m very aware that we are healthy, safe and well given the current situation and more fortunate than many who have been affected by COVID-19. However, our life has still been impacted by this and I wanted to share my story of that.