Arubans living abroad

Aruba Today is connecting to our beloved readers abroad who have a special bond with the island. We launched columns like Aruba to Me … and My Favorite Hotel Staff where our fans can send pictures and words that express their love for Aruba and its workers in the hospitality industry.

In these difficult times we also think about our Aruban friends living abroad. How they are doing and what is their life experience right now, we wonder. The first story in this series was published April 17 and came from Aruban Arturo Desimone who lives in Spain. April 22 we shared the wonderful story of Jairo Loefstop who lives in Costa Rica. April 29 we got a glimpse of the world of Jennifer Maduro who lives in Montreal, Canada. And today we present to you: Jacqueline Raven – Hagens living in Dubai.

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“My name is Jacqueline Raven – Hagens and I am 36 years old living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates with my husband Albert Raven and 20 month old daughter Shae. We are both from Aruba and met each other in Amsterdam after which, around 6 years ago, we got the opportunity to move to Abu Dhabi for work. Albert is currently head chef at Firelake restaurant, which overlooks the iconic Burj Khalifa in Dubai. And I work as a schedule planner for Apple.

Dubai and Covid-19.
We were on holiday in Aruba visiting family and Albert had to go back to Dubai earlier for work. Shae and I were supposed to stay until the end of March when the first case of Covid-19 was announced in Dubai. The government took immediate action and decided to massively test anyone with symptoms. As soon as the cases started to increase (also due to the amounts of tests being conducted)  I made the decision to fly home earlier, just in case they would close the borders, and it was a good thing we changed our flights, because Dubai went in complete lockdown two days after we arrived. Which was March 15th.

Three days after our arrival, our daughter started getting a fever and vomiting. We took her to a hospital and because we had just arrived from a layover in New York, they requested us to do a Covid-19 test and isolate until the results were in. Thankfully we were negative and it turns out our daughter had Influenza-B. After a hospital stay, some fluids and Tamiflu she was fine.

At that point Dubai implemented a stay at home order. Everything was closed and you were not permitted to leave your house except for emergencies. No exercise, no beach and groceries only once per week with permission. They put a permit request system in place where you could request a permit to leave your house, without this you could face a hefty fine. The country implemented a national sanitation drive, where they put in drones and huge cars went around all area’s to spray every corner.

After eight weeks of this order, Dubai has now relaxed the rules slightly. Offices and restaurants are permitted to open at 30 % capacity, everyone should wear a mask outside and if possible gloves inside of businesses. We are allowed to leave the house for one hour of exercise or groceries anytime between 6 am and 10 pm. After 10 pm there is still a stay at home order as they still go around to spray.

Since it can get up to 50 degrees Celsius in the summer, most businesses are inside of malls.

Everyone working in a mall has to be tested and visitors below the age of twelve and above the age of 60 are not permitted to enter. Which means our daughter doesn’t leave the house except for the occasional walk. Masks are still a requirement once outside and since our daughter is too small and keeps pulling it off, we only take her out around our community. We must say that we feel quite safe with the way the country has handled the situation. They are one of the leading countries in the amount of testing being done, most of it free.

And even though we haven’t left the house in over three months, except for one dinner and the occasional groceries (every company now does home delivery) we are happy and healthy. My husband’s restaurant is in the process of slowly opening up again and I am lucky to be well taken care of by my company.

We’re of course worried for our families back home in Aruba. They have their own businesses that were forced to close temporarily and that has a big impact. We also fear that a family member would get sick, with us being so far and all borders being closed, we would have no way of going back home in the near future.

Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel!”