Islamabad cordons off select areas after spike in COVID-19 cases 

Police officers wearing facemasks stand beside motorists next to a street sealed by the authorities at a residential area in Islamabad on June 25, 2020 as COVID-19 coronavirus cases continue to rise. (AFP)
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Updated 26 October 2020

Islamabad cordons off select areas after spike in COVID-19 cases 

  • Capital’s district administration identifies several streets as “coronavirus hotspots” 
  • Residents working in essential services’ sector and testing negative for disease to be exempted from new rule

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad’s district administration began imposing “smart lockdowns” in several parts of the Pakistani capital on Sunday after new cases of coronavirus infections were reported across the city. 

Residents will now have limited access to several areas which have been identified as “COVID-19 hot spots,” the Deputy Commissioner Islamabad (DCI) tweeted on Monday.

The notification said that lockdowns had been reinstated in 10 streets across the capital, including “St. 46 in F-11/3, St.23 in F-11/2, St.58 in I-8/2, St.57 in I-8/3, St-91 in I-8/4, St.10 Block D Media town, St.12 in I-10/2, St.33 in G-11/2, St.30 in Pakistan town phase 1 and St.35 G-6/2.” 

It added that only residents working in the essential services’ sector and testing negative for the coronavirus disease would be allowed access to enter and exit the specified areas. 

Born in the KSA: Young and successful, Pakistani creatives recall Saudi childhood

Updated 28 sec ago

Born in the KSA: Young and successful, Pakistani creatives recall Saudi childhood

  • Film editor and producer Emad Khalid Mughal recalls the 'surreal' feeling of growing up surrounded by holy sites
  • Young creatives say that in Pakistan they often have to clear misconceptions about their childhood home in Saudi Arabia

RAWALPINDI: Model Atikah Gardezi, stylist Maryam Raja and video producer Emad Khalid Mughal have a lot in common: they’re young, they’re Lahore based, they’re causing a stir in their respective fields, and they all grew up in Saudi Arabia.

Makkah-born Raja lived in Jeddah until age 25 and left for Pakistan three years ago to work for brands such as Zara Shahjahan, Beechtree and Khaadi.

"When I think about growing up in Saudi Arabia, ironically, I think a lot about water, visiting the beautiful Red Sea ... Most people would think desert," she told Arab News laughing.

But the stereotypes which for her need to be fixed are not only related to landscape.

"There’s this idea here that KSA is incredibly conservative and restrictive which, yes in some ways it is more so than here, but the way Pakistanis picture it is a bit off,” she said. “I know it’s not the same for everyone and I speak with some privilege, but over there I felt like I could move more freely, and it helped build up my independence.”

Stylist Maryam Raja at home in Lahore, Pakistan shared on her Instagram on August 5th, 2020 (Photo courtesy: @maryamraja/Instagram)

Her current career, however, might have been impossible in Saudi Arabia.

"Being an expat, even though my parents migrated when they were three and four years old respectively, it continues to be hard getting a job because of the way the visas work," she said.

"It's harder to hire someone who is not a Saudi national. Now I have a career path, very strongly defined in Pakistan."

Correcting misconceptions about the childhood home is also what Mughal, who moved to Pakistan some 10 years ago, keeps on doing. 

"There’s a big misconception that Saudi is just nomads roaming around looking for water or something when in reality it’s been at the forefront of a lot of development and urbanization. There are some crazy mega infrastructure projects going on," he said.

"If people saw beyond the label of it being a traditional country and look at the cities it would probably change their perspectives."

Although born in Kuwait, he spent most of his life in Jeddah and moved to Pakistan to pursue his bachelor's degree. He recalled the "surreal" feeling of always being surrounded by holy sites in his Saudi childhood.

"All the holy sites are around the corner it’s a surreal way to grow up," he told Arab News. "It’s such a privilege because some people, right here in Pakistan, work their whole lives to get there and we had them, sometimes walking distance from us."

A decade into his life in Lahore and with a number successful projects in his resume, like editing films such as "Yaalghaar," "Ashen Streets," the 30-year-old says he is still missing his Saudi life.

“It’s the food I miss the most, but also the lifestyle," he said. 

Unlike Mughal and Raja, Gardezi, who became a professional model in Pakistan, knew that Pakistan would someday become her home.

Model Atikah Gardezi in Lahore, Pakistan shared on her Instagram on April 1st, 2020. (Photo courtesy: @atikahgardezi/Instagram)

“I always felt like an outsider in Saudi even being born and raised there," said the 28-year-old born in Makkah.  

That strangeness, however, is something she continues to feel, though on different levels.

"That is something I feel in Pakistan now," she said, adding that she while was "too Pakistani for Saudi Arabia," now she feels "too Arab for Pakistan."

But she says she remembers her Saudi childhood as diverse and inclusive: "My favorite thing about growing up in Saudi was the diaspora community we built in the building I grew up in."

This sense of community is what she is struggling to find in Pakistan.
"What’s different here is the lack of community. Moving here I realized things like your position in society mattered a great deal to the culture here, what you wore and who you were friends with. For me personally that was not the case in Makkah."