A not so deserted desert…


In 1833 Maktoum Bin Butti of the Bani Yas tribe leads his people to the Shindigha Peninsula, located at the Creek the potential for trade was great, so they settled, and officially declared it’s independence from Abu Dhabi. While now a thriving commercial hotspot and economic superpower, one can still venture to the history steeped Creek. Deira, with its Souks and passing Abra’s is a gentle yet powerful reminder of the sleepy settlement it once was.

On my last visit to Deira, with a tutor new to Dubai, we walked the busy streets and bought saffron in the Souk but it appeared we were the only ones. So where were the rest of the UK? A free pass to visit Dubai and not a single Brit in the old town. Just 30 minutes down Sheik Zayed Road, on The Palm, Jumeriah, there was a very different story. A kaleidoscopic carnival shaped by package holidays, the allure of bottomless brunches and endless possibilities for social media postings. A Gatsby’esque caravansary of celebrities, reality television stars, and influencers, helping one another compose shots, over shots, on the pristine White Beach. With an economy propped by tourism, the steadily growing influx of tourist certainly has its benefits, but what of a wider social responsibility?

Those of us who call Dubai home, experienced the toughness of restriction early in the year and they certainly worked, hence the open passage of travel to and from the UK. But now the tide is turning, and as cases begin to rise, holiday makers will leave and we’ll be here to pick up the piece’s. Perhaps the greatest impact is on the schools and their students, following what can at best be described as a turbulent year, there was a glimmer of hope. However schools are not fully returning, GCSEs and A-Level have once again been cancelled and university students have experienced a marred and discouraging first exposure to student life. Despite such hardships I have been continually impressed and proud with the agility at which our students have adapted to the new normal. With a mixture of in-person and online schooling, maintaining a regular schedule and ensuring maximum engagement with the subject matter is no easy feat. Our tutors orchestrated a smooth shift to online learning, however with an ease in restrictions they have also been delighted to resume seeing students on a one-to-one basis.

Excessive screen time is linked to many detrimental health issues, both physically and mentally. Mental health is a prevalent and at last, transparent issue, it is key we work to support students in these unprecedented times. While Dubai is not in lockdown, remote learning and lack of school community can feel like lockdown in itself. The city is open so socialising (in a responsible manner) is allowed and encouraged, be sure to leave the house once a day, meet up with a friend, or do your homework from a cafe. We understand how challenging these times are and are on hand to support, be it with tuition, mentorship, or to alleviate pressure from parents.