Coronavirus will change UAE education, work in the future: Health official

A man wearing a protective mask stands at a racetrack overlooking Dubai following the UAE's decision to postpone the upcoming Dubai Horse Racing amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, on March 23, 2020 in Dubai. (File photo: AFP)

Life in the UAE will be changed by coronavirus, and remote working and learning are likely to become more commonplace in the long term, even as the immediate threat subsides, says a health official. Much about the future depends on how successfully the virus is contained in the short term.

Coronavirus prevention measures have disrupted normal daily life for millions across the world currently under lockdown or asked to practice social distancing, but some warn there will be a new normal for education and office work post-coronavirus.

“We think in the longer term in the UAE the way work and school will be done will change,” said Dr. Adil Sajwani, a family medicine doctor with the Ministry of Health and Prevention and a member of the national awareness team for COVID-19 in the UAE.

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Schools in the UAE moved to online classes in early March and will close the year digitally.

Sajwani said he hopes that classes will resume in the classroom next year if the virus is controlled, but said he believes there will still be fundamental changes to education, adding that the UAE is likely to rely more on digital learning.

“This is an opportunity for us to go further with distance learning and turn more to digitization,” Sajwani told Al Arabiya English.

Beyond the classroom, the very nature of work may also change.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai tweeted yesterday that a task force would be established for post coronavirus government work.

In Dubai, authorities are preparing how coronavirus will change life in the long run and have begun assessing what these changes may look like.

The Dubai Future Foundation in early April launched a series of reports to prepare for what life after COVID-19 will look like. The first report focused on workspaces and looks at the impact on productivity, rental and travel costs, as well as employees’ carbon footprint. The second report focused on distant learning.

Some experts have predicted that sports and other large gatherings, like concerts, may not be able to return until there is a vaccine.

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Sajwani said it’s too early to tell when the UAE may see a return of large gatherings and that is a decision that can be made when the disease is under control.

The UAE has continued to report an increasing number of coronavirus cases each day, but mass testing has been rolled out across the country, which will lead to an increase in reported cases.

Sajwani said he is confident the UAE can flatten its curve in a few weeks if citizens and residents continue to adhere to social distancing, wash their hands, and stay home as much as possible.

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Last Update: 11:07 KSA 14:07 - GMT 11:07
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