How have the Arabs lived with Corona in the UK? | Arabisk London
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How have the Arabs lived with Corona in the UK?

Arab Community in the UK

Like many around the world and in Britain, sitting in front of a computer screen and providing training through the Zoom app has become a daily routine for Zainab Al-Jawary during the Corona epidemic.

Zainab, who lives in London is specialized in voice training, body movement, and mime. she has currently a number of trainees from Gulf countries, most of them work in chanting, and of course, her work has been affected by the epidemic!

Britain is one of the most affected countries by the Corona epidemic, as it has recorded tens of thousands of deaths and cases, in addition to the virus’s impact on the areas of health, the economy as well as its residents’ daily life.


Doctors of Arab origins were the first victims in the British health sector being” the first defense line against the virus”.

Zainab Al-Jawary, who runs the “Academy of Arab Arts and Heritage in Britain”, which spreads Arab culture through training and qualifying the talented, says that: “many training classes have not been completed due to the epidemic, and training has become via Internet applications.”

The center has different activities like drawing, singing, music, Arabic calligraphy, and many other activities.


 The “Arabic choir”

Zainab added to BBC that “the psychological aspect of the absence from the academy is very influential, in addition to the economic impact of course.

“According to the British government guidelines, large gatherings are not permitted, and thus “this made the Academy’s choir gathering difficult to achieve.”

The choir consists of fifty artists of different specializations and Arab origins, and it aims to present the singing Arab heritage to the world by organizing an annual ceremony, but this year it will be difficult to be done.

Nora Sabry, one of the “choir” members, who is a human resources advisor in the British Ministry of Justice, and whose parallel activities in addition to singing in the choir provide an example Corona epidemic adaptation.


Belly Dancing and Fitness on WhatsApp

Nora offers fitness classes by training belly dancing for private groups and says: “It is a way to present Arab heritage through dancing in addition to physical health and of course for a small fee because the goal is not material.”

The training sessions that Nora was providing in her local area were affected by the epidemic and she resorted to Internet video applications, but she says that the numbers have decreased a lot because most of the participants are Arabs and they are reluctant to participate in online dance education videos. Despite taking into account that “entry to these exercises is done by private invitations only, and they no longer charge fees for them.”

Statistics indicate that there were about 10 million in Britain in sports clubs before the lockdown due to the epidemic, but currently some online exercise platform subscriptions have increased by more than 900%.

Nora says: Despite Corona lockdown and the difficulties associated, it has provided more time to think about new ways of doing business.

Nora has used WhatsApp by creating fitness groups based on the monthly challenge that includes completing certain daily exercises. The person who finishes the exercise sends an “emoji” stating that.

The economic situation of Arab families in the UK

Passers-by in Arab streets of London notice the spread of restaurants that offer Arab dishes and shisha as well as shops that offer Arab food and materials. Since smoking is prohibited in closed places in Britain since 2007, these restaurants and cafes serve them in open places and at the shops’ entrances.

However, with corona lockdown and the restaurants’ closure for three months, these things disappeared, only to return again with the reopening of restaurants, bars and cafes in early July in England specifically.

The restaurant sector across Britain has been affected by the lockdown pushing many of them out of the market and caused complete closure for others. As a result, the tax contribution from the UK restaurant sector is estimated at £ 123 billion annually.

Nema Khalil, who runs a restaurant in western London, says that despite the negative economic impact of the three lockdown months, people’s desire and eagerness to go out after the lockdown was lifted and restaurants opened. customers came back to his restaurant as before. Especially, since members of the Arab community prefer staying up late in such restaurants. At the time when restaurants and cafes stopped, the demand for Arab food products and vegetables became greater, as most Arab families cook at home, and the Park Rowell area in West London became a major shopping center where there are Iraqi, Syrian and Lebanese stores such as Salam Shopping Center, Lebanese Center, Lebanese Roastery, and most of the sweet’s shops, Patchi, Levant, and Wow Sweet, in addition to bakeries such as Rayyan and Kamil bakery.


Arabic Shisha Cafes in London

Nema adds that the measures he took in the restaurant “contributed greatly to the visitors’ feeling of safety with seating places that take into account social distancing along with sterilization points inside the restaurant.”

According to British government guidelines; restaurants should not play music loudly so that people do not have to speak loudly” which increases the chance of the spread of the droplets out of the mouth, which is a major cause of the spread of the virus if a person has the disease”.

While medical reports warn of shisha and its role in the spread of disease, Nema says that its demand has not decreased, especially since his restaurant uses “single-use hoses” and some customers have their own tools that are not shared with others.”

It is also mentioned that some shisha cafes now offer shisha to customers in their car, where they put the shisha out and hoses extend into the cars. Any Park Royal visitor at night can see this scene in front of the Bamboo Lounge Café, where dozens of luxury cars enjoy shisha in a takeaway style.

The Arab community situation in Britain may not differ from the rest of the population affected by Corona, and some slight differences are still absent in the various adaptation attempts.