Is the Dubai concept based on expat professionals

Published:  19 Jul at 6 PM
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Tagged: Australia, Dubai, UAE, Jobs
Dubai’s popularity as an expat professional hub draws foreign workers across the globe, but is the Dubai dream a cover-up for an unpleasant reality?

On paper, and for new arrivals, life in Dubai is little short of a dream, with luxurious accommodation, maids, drivers, a great social life, international cuisine, all year-round sunshine, 24/7 aircon, and a salary difficult if not impossible to achieve back in the home country. The city is a shrine to the 21st century, with magnificent architecture reaching for the sky, green oases, soaring fountains and all the trappings of success paid for with a generous relocation package.

It’s a city on its best behaviour, determined to impress those who struggle to achieve success and the riches which invariably come with it. New arrivals may see it as romantic, surrounded by an impenetrable desert and peopled with the modern-day descendents of great rulers as shown in the movie Lawrence of Arabia. The reality of the country doesn’t permeate the high society lifestyle or the minds of those lucky enough to have a part in it.

Just over half a century ago, the British left the country on its own, peopled by camel drivers and Bedouin tribesmen and with the vast wealth of oil and gold hidden under the sands as yet unexploited. One sheikh, cleverly seeing the future of his land, tempted foreigners back in with promises of a tax-free life in exchange for a countrywide update. As a result, generations of non-Emiratis now call Dubai their home, with the indigenous peoples numbering just 11 per cent of the total population.

Three layers now exist, each dependent on the others, with the sheikhs’ unbelievable wealth followed by rich foreigners providing the nation’s brains and holding jobs such as bank managers, CEOs and heads of extravagant projects. The third layer, which never, ever gets talked about by the other two, contains the poor foreign workers toiling for 12-hour shifts in incredible heat and livi8ng five to a room in what is often described as modern day slavery.

Expats with a heart begin to notice the underclass after a while, with many feeling just a little uncomfortable as they flash the cash. However, the general reaction is not to speak about it, not to notice it and definitely don’t write about it. A recent article on Dubai described it as ‘Disneyland for adults’, a place where no-one questions its morality or involves their conscience. Nowadays, the tables seem to be turning, with emirates pushing Saudization, Kuwatization and other such concepts in order to justify prejudice. Going back in time, the reality of life in the UAE without expat talent and experience would seem to resemble the old days after the British left.
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