As you can tell by the title of this blogpost I am spending Christmas here in Kuwait for the first time. This will actually be my second time away from home during the Christmas period, last time was back in 2010 when I was living in Lebanon. This year however is different. The world is going through unimaginable times right now, COVID 19 has caused so much sadness, grief and loneliness for millions across the globe. People have been separated from loved ones, lost loved ones, found themselves financially struggling, finding themselves entering into deep depression, anxiety and uncertainty. Many things have crept up into our lives through this pandemic.
The reason why I’m spending Christmas here in Kuwait is for two reasons. The most obvious one being the pandemic. Kuwait is currently still closed off to tourists since the start of the pandemic, meaning only citizens and those for work remain here. It is a tiny country full of expats as well as Kuwaitis with very few tourists who travel here pre pandemic times. It isn’t built for tourism lets just say that. As the news was announced a new strain of the coronavirus had been detected in England that led to many countries including Kuwait to stop all flights to and from England to Kuwait. This meant that teachers planning to go back home for Christmas was suddenly scrapped. Some teachers here in Kuwait had already left a few weeks earlier for several reasons with their expired visas etc and therefore now faced with the possibility of not returning to Kuwait.
As well as Kuwait banning flights from England, a day or two later Kuwait suddenly announced the news that the airport will be officially closed that night at 11pm. Kuwait also announced closure of all ports until the 1st of January 2021. I think this has created a little bit of anxiousness perhaps not knowing what are the next actions the government will take here. Kuwait suffered some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in the world in comparison and therefore the thought of the country going back to those challenging times will undoubtably create fear amongst many.
The other reason why I haven’t been able to go back home this Christmas is because im currently on a temporary commercial visa waiting for my residency to be completed here. Like many who started working in Kuwait since September this year, there is currently no word or indication on when the residencies will be finalised as everything is halted due to the pandemic. Right now we are just getting renewed visas every so many months on our commercial visa which is fine for now but ideally the sooner the residency and civil ID comes the better. If I were to leave the country be that England or another place it would automatically cancel the process of my residency and therefore I would have to start all over again.
So for now I’m making the best out of the situation here in Kuwait during the festive period. I was actually surprised how many Christmas trees were on sale this month and decorations as in previous years I don’t remember anyway near as much options available. Although this is an Islamic country Christmas is still celebrated amongst Christians who live here, with even some churches still remaining in the country for people to go for worship. However this year the churches and religious gatherings have been banned because of COVID 19.
Christmas Eve I spent at the lovely Jumeriah Messila Beach Hotel. I had already been to this hotel for dinner earlier on in the month and absolutely loved it. Breathtakingly beautiful hotel with so much class and elegance.
There is something about fairy lights and heaters outside that really help set the mood. I love going to hotels or resorts for dinner/lunch etc because it gives that holiday atmosphere to it.
Christmas Day we simply spent it at a friends apartment, smoking shisha, listening to music and playing games. A very chilled evening that I think we all needed. How could I forget to tell you as well that we were in fact teaching all the way up until Christmas Eve 😀 finishing at 4.30pm. I know there are plenty of people who have to work on Christmas Day, but for teachers this is unheard of. However we now have a nice 2 week break to look forward before we go back on the 10th January.
I managed to FaceTime my family at home which was nice and despite how sad I felt I couldn’t be with them this Christmas I was so grateful fo the wonders of technology which made it feel slightly not as distant being able to see their faces on camera. Keeping in touch via FaceTime etc really helps any feelings of homesickness you may have.
My reflection during this Christmas
. No-one has it easy
. We are all going through some kind of a struggle this year
. Family, happiness, loved ones and health are what matters the most
. You never know when your time is up so make the best of it
. Life is unexpected. You never know what will happen in the future
. There are millions of people experiencing loneliness this year. It’s important to check in on anyone you know who is on their own.
. Grief will be particularly affecting a lot this Christmas and there is no right way to grieve. If you know anyone who is going through a grief this year make sure they know you are there to support them and comfort them during these times.
. Speaking of loss this year, I think the overwhelming amount of people who have died due to COVID 19 will have created a lot of anxiety for people about death. It’s okay to feel this way just try not to let it overwhelm you with irrationality. Separate what is likely to what is highly unlikely and you should begin to relax a bit more.
. We should really take more care of this planet. We are blessed to be here and I feel there is so much more we could be doing to protect Earth. With this virus, I have felt it has created a new awareness inside me that we should do our utmost everything to respect and love this planet for the chance and opportunities it has brought to us. The experience it has given us that will last with us throughout our life. We should take more care of our hygiene, think a little harder in how we can keep this world a safer place.
There is just some of my thoughts I’ve had over this Christmas period so far. Let me know in the comment section below how you are spending Christmas and whether you have been separated from loved ones etc. Wishing you all a safe and Merry Christmas from Kuwait.