Living in the Future

Here in Dubai, we are starting to come out of lockdown ahead of many other countries.

Dubai, under the Dubai Future Foundation initiative, has considered itself the testbed for the world.  Inviting startups from around the world to prototype new technologies to help craft future regulations.

Now with Dubai’s enforced lockdown strategy coming to an end, it can serve as a testbed for the rest of the world and hopefully, set an example for how it worked.

Just as a high-level summary of the lockdown we went through:

  • Enforced lockdown, with move permits required to leave homes (simple website to request permit that was issued within 10 minutes, if it was a valid excuse).
  • Valid excuses were Grocery/Pharmacy visits (once every 3 days), or essential categories of work. 
  • Curfew was put in place from 8 pm – 8 am.
  • Masks were mandatory at all times outside the home, as well as gloves in many institutions.
  • Delivery services were still operational with ‘contact-free delivery’.
  • Speed Radar Cameras (which if you’ve been to Dubai, you know are everywhere), were set to take pictures of all cars/license plates to cross-check if they are violating the move permit or curfew orders before fining people.

The above precautions should have limited the spread of COVID19 but also created the foundation for contact tracing (via the Move Permits), but obviously not as intrusive as China’s Private-Public Contact Tracing means through the tracking of apps such as WeChat.

As we have come out of the lockdown, move permit restrictions have been lifted but with restrictions on gathering sizes, space occupancies.  Some of the updated aspects of our enforcement:

  • Curfew is now 10 pm – 6 am.
  • Masks still mandatory.
  • Occupancy of locations such as restaurants/cafe limited to 30% with the expectation their layouts and seating will be arranged to avoid close proximity.
  • High-risk individuals and the elderly are recommended to avoid going out.

This latest evolution in the strategy might work for Dubai because we had 5 proper weeks of lockdown in place, unlike other cities where it has been lax/non-enforceable but also not long enough to stop the spread.

So what will living in this new future reality look like going forward? Bill Gates and other prominent thinkers believe until a vaccine isn’t created, we most likely won’t be going back to life as it was Before Corona (BC).  We will look back at the BC period, with this fond memory of attending large concerts and conferences, but will that just be nostalgia, why can’t we craft a better experience going forward?  We don’t tend to look back in other scenarios and fondly think about life before ‘electricity, water, toilets’ etc? Who’s to say we won’t be able to build a better future?  More sanitized – yes, but why not even better?  A better experience than cramping around or standing in large lines with strangers?

Here’s to living in that future.

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