Jobless and homeless expat mom living on Dubai streets

Published:  23 Oct at 6 PM
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Tagged: Dubai, UAE, Money
A 45 year-old former HR manager is now living on the streets in Dubai, separated from her two children and facing prison.

Romanian national Leiga Michael lived happily in Dubai with her two children for a number of years until she lost her job in 2015. She had a small apartment and was working as a successful HR manager until her life took a tragic turn, leaving her no option but to send her children back to her home country to live with her sister after running up overdue rental payments of Dh70,000.

Once she’d lost her job, there was no way she could pay her rent and the land department quickly filed a case against her. Because of the court case, she’s now unable to get another job in order to pay off her debt, nor is she allowed to leave the country. Problems which began when her husband divorced her some four years ago are now crushing the former professional, who never even had a driving citation in all her years of living in the UAE.

She occasionally stays for a few days with friends, ensuring she at least has a few decent meals, and she hasn’t seen her children for over two years. In an interview with a local English language media outlet, she told reporters she’s in a trap she can’t seem to escape from, and is resigned to being sent to prison for her debts. She explained the only reason she’d stayed after she’d become unemployed was to settle her rental debts, but finding another job had proved impossible even before she was sued as she was over-qualified for available positions.

She’s desperate to find a way to get home, as her mother is now ill and she’s missing her children. According to Hisham al Zahrani, a manager of social services at Dar el Ber, she’s trapped in a vicious circle as she’s unable to get a job whilst there’s a court case against her. He believes she will end up in prison unless the money is found to pay off her debts.

He’s asking for donations in order to allow her to return to Romania and be with her family. It seems when things go right for expat professionals in the Gulf States it’s a way to achieve wealth and success, but when things go wrong there’s no safety net, especially if you’re a woman.
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