Re­lieved Saudis wel­come the ‘new nor­mal’

Chal­lenges re­main as cities re­turn to life af­ter lock­down, ex­perts warn

Arab News - - News Saudi Arabia - Deema Al-Khu­dair Jed­dah

Res­i­dents across the King­dom are mak­ing the most of their new­found free­dom 10 days af­ter the lift­ing of coro­n­avirus lock­down re­stric­tions.

As cities come alive again with traf­fic re­turn­ing and shops open­ing, it is busi­ness as usual for al­most ev­ery­one.

So­cial life and com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity in towns and cities fell to a min­i­mum dur­ing the two-month lock­down, but with the the end of the cur­few peo­ple are seiz­ing the chance to meet up with friends and fam­ily mem­bers they have not seen in a long time — and pos­si­bly re­turn to their nor­mal ac­tiv­i­ties, re­spon­si­bly.

How­ever, read­just­ing to nor­mal­ity could prove chal­leng­ing as Saudi health of­fi­cials con­tinue to is­sue warn­ings and in­sist the King­dom “is not out of the dark just yet.”

While the King­dom con­tin­ues to ramp up COVID-19 test­ing and con­tact trac­ing to pre­vent fur­ther out­breaks, res­i­dents are quickly adapt­ing to so­cial changes. Ac­cord­ing to so­ci­ol­o­gist Musaab Al-Ab­dul­lah, cop­ing with change “is an es­sen­tial char­ac­ter­is­tic in hu­mans.”

“Ever since we were cre­ated, it is the ba­sis of progress and keep­ing pace with time,” he told Arab News.

“Peo­ple can get used to and adapt to any­thing, and they are pre­pared to adapt to the changes that sur­round them, but the speed of ac­cep­tance varies from per­son to per­son due to the na­ture of the in­di­vid­ual and their ideas. Of­ten, change comes grad­u­ally, so it is more eas­ily ac­cepted by in­di­vid­u­als,” he said. Al-Ab­dul­lah said that in re­cent weeks it has be­come clear that peo­ple must ac­cept a “new nor­mal.”

Many prob­a­bly view the “new nor­mal” as an ex­cit­ing chal­lenge, he added.

“Life as we know it has changed.

Peo­ple are afraid and are iso­lat­ing them­selves. They now see that life be­fore the lock­down was bliss­ful and not as bor­ing as we thought. Peo­ple are now wait­ing im­pa­tiently for the virus to be erad­i­cated so that they can re­turn to their nor­mal life with a new and ap­pre­cia­tive out­look.”

The lock­down helped peo­ple un­der­stand what is im­por­tant to them be­cause many op­tions and places to visit were lim­ited. “The con­cept of con­sump­tion changed and we were able to live with­out wear­ing our­selves out col­lect­ing so-called lux­u­ries. It showed that fam­ily and safety al­ways come first,” he said. Al-Ab­dul­lah said hu­mans are so­cial crea­tures, and be­ing iso­lated from others is not nor­mal for them. “When a per­son is iso­lated from so­ci­ety, de­pres­sion will be­gin to dom­i­nate and af­fect their life, and life in their eyes loses its value. When you see a friend in light of this crisis, it will be a great plea­sure just to see them in good health, but you will feel anx­ious be­cause of the re­stric­tions im­posed on ev­ery­one.” Lu­jain Al-Je­hani, 27, took the op­por­tu­nity to meet friends, but made sure she fol­lowed the rules. “It was a small gath­er­ing, about four peo­ple, and we were all wear­ing masks and kept our

HIGH­LIGHTS

So­cial life and com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity in towns and cities fell to a min­i­mum dur­ing the twom­onth lock­down.

With the end of the cur­few peo­ple are seiz­ing the chance to meet up with friends and fam­ily mem­bers they have not seen in a long time — and pos­si­bly re­turn to their nor­mal ac­tiv­i­ties.

Read­just­ing to nor­mal­ity could prove chal­leng­ing as Saudi health of­fi­cials con­tinue to is­sue warn­ings and in­sist the King­dom ‘is not out of the dark just yet.’

SPA/Sup­plied

xxxxx Ac­cord­ing to so­ci­ol­o­gists, cop­ing with change ‘is an es­sen­tial char­ac­ter­is­tic in hu­mans.’ Many be­lieve that the lock­down has helped peo­ple un­der­stand what is im­por­tant to them be­cause many op­tions and places to visit were lim­ited.

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