Abdulnasir Al Raisi
Deputy General Manager, Premier Banking, Bank Muscat (OMAN)
The COVID-19 is putting everyone to the test. And, here in Oman, we are also being tested. But, we have risen to the occasion and we will see the end of this dreaded saga. When, is not an answer that we can answer now, but we will surely see its end for we, the human beings, are stronger than any virus.
Of course it has wreaked havoc and it will continue to do so, but like all viruses it will also phase out and mind you we will soon be not just coping with it, but living with it as we have lived with every sickness, disease and catastrophes. Nothing can beat the indomitable human spirit. We will win this war too!
Biggest crises ever
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest crises faced by the world so far. It continues to create new challenges in previously unimaginable ways. Healthcare, business, human migration, even the very act of breathing itself has undergone a sea change in the last several months. Add to that the rapid progress of technology at the other end.
Contactless payments, work from home, video conferencing, study at home, telemedicine – these have rapidly become popular around the globe and in Oman too. So, in both good and bad ways, we have seen the reach of this virus. If the virus did not happen now, would we have depended on technology in this manner? That is a subject to debate.
Shared responsibility and empathy
That there have been several drastic changes is beyond doubt. The biggest change is that in our effort to protect the vulnerable, social distancing has become a norm and it looks all set to continue in the medium-term future. The government has been very proactive and has managed to disseminate the importance of social distancing to all.
People have adapted technology for many activities in their daily lives – from payments to business transactions, meetings and studies. There has been a sense of ‘shared responsibility’ and empathy for those, who are less fortunate than us. A large number of organised charitable activities are supporting many of those who have been affected. People are by and large optimistic that we will successfully come out of this together and have been largely cooperating with the government’s actions to overcome the challenge.
Not so smooth
Going ahead, from limitations on the movement of people that are in place to manage the fallout of the pandemic, we may actually move to a situation where movement and travel with some form of social distancing becomes more common. But, it is very possible that international travel won’t be as smooth as in the past.
Work in progress
Professionally, while technology has been a great enabler, there is no doubt that some things do need real face-to-face meetings and teams working out of the same office at the same time to prevent coordination problems and for better efficiency. Some of these things are a ‘work in progress’ and I would expect things to change keeping in line with the situation on the ground and as organisations across the world fine-tune their processes and systems to achieve better efficiencies.
Life will change in so many ways
There are going to be some fundamental and sweeping shifts in life as we know it, and it will not be restricted to wearing of masks alone. A healthier lifestyle, more empathy for those less fortunate, increased awareness about making our planet safer and greener, higher cleaning standards and deep cleaning protocols in a large number of industries including hospitality and travel, increased domestic tourism in many countries including Oman in the medium-term future as people look at safer options of holiday travel, increased automation and robotics – life will change drastically in many ways.
Attaining sustainability will be a new goal
I have to point out the increased awareness of the concept of sustainable development amongst people in general. Sustainability, something which Bank Muscat stands for, and has been working on constantly for a long time now, is something that more and more people and corporates will take seriously and try to act upon.
Post-COVID life may be a bit different
There are of course, arguments in certain quarters that an immunity passport or vaccination document may become an essential part of international travel. While it may still be a bit early to debate this, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the great COVID-19 saga will come to an end.
Humans are social beings and we can expect to return back to some aspects of our pre-COVID life. We will get back to our normal lives and out of our homes more often in the future. But yes, that post-COVID life may also be a bit different from what we have so far been used to and what we may have imagined before.