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The Good and Bad Sides of Working in Dubai

By on December 10, 2013

Many Filipinos are currently working in Dubai. 

dubaiOf the 700,000 Filipinos living in the United Arab Emirates, 450,00 of them are in Dubai, effectively making one of every five residents in this bustling city coming from the Philippines. With that number, one must have sensed that Dubai is a suitable place to work, knowing that many Filipinos live and work there in fields like construction, information technology, retail, design, tourism and as household workers.

But to a prospect in the Philippines weighing his or her options, Dubai can still be treated as a hostile place where expats need to withstand extreme temperatures, and workers can be subjected to exploitation. But just like in many other places Filipinos go to find work, there are things we like and dislike about Dubai.

Things We Like About Dubai

1. Dubai is a nice place to learn about world culture. As a city dominated by expats, Dubai is a rich, fertile ground to learn more about world culture. It is easy to stumble across a Briton, Ethiopian, Indian, Chinese or Egyptian and, once you get to befriend them, learn more about language, food, customs and beliefs. We could learn random things like tipping in a restaurant or dealing with in-laws. Apart from this, you’ll easily get new connections across multinational networks which might be helpful in your future expatriate career.

2. Dubai has plenty of things you can do. Forget the idea of an Islamic state which restricts a lot of actions. In fact, you can forget the word boredom since you’ll be spoiled for choice of things you can explore. Eat multinational dishes, explore desert buggy ride or try shisha in one of dozens of bars scattered around.

3. Comforts of living. If you’re employed with generous (or expat-level) compensation, you’ll find living in Dubai a very luxurious experience. Apartments are well-attended and spacious enough for yourself or even your family.

4. Opportunities for work. As a regional hub of many multinational companies, Dubai enjoys that advantage career-wise that suits many qualified career people. All you have to do is equip yourself with necessary qualifications, skills and experience.

5. Tax-free salary. You don’t have to worry about allocating your savings into paying for tax because there’s no enforced tax levied on workers.

Things We Hate About Dubai

1. Weather is ridiculous. We’re talking about scorching summer months of June to September where the mercury reading at 40C is the norm rather than an exception. You may enjoy working in the office at air conditioned surroundings, but if you work outdoors, be prepared to hydrate against the punishing climate.

2. Cost of living. You may enjoy the comforts of city living, only if you’re a highly paid expat or provided with company quarters, something that’s not very common among the general working population. There’s a reason why there is no salary tax: it’s expensive to send a child to school, pay for apartment bills and other expenses.

3. Job security. Just like in many other regional hubs, impact of economic downturn is more pronounced among Dubai workforce. Entry-level jobs are among the first to go, and once you receive your layoff notice, you’ll only have 30 days to find another job.

4. Exploitation. In the name of business efficiency and profits, many companies hire poorly-paid workers from poor countries, subject them into subhuman working conditions, offer paltry pay (thinking that this is still higher than what they’ll get back home), seize their passports and other forms of discrimination.