Is it Time to Head Back Home?

GulfTalent.com, an online recruitment site, recently sent me a press release with a headline that screamed “UAE salaries rise by 10.7% – study”. I think they forgot to add “Finally After 100 Years!” after the “UAE salaries rise by 10.7%” bit.

Let’s face the truth – the salaries are still what people used to get paid probably when Dubai was a desert and when people used horse carts for transport. Here’s an excerpt from the study:

  • Regional salaries increased by 9.0% in 2007 compared to 7.9% last year
  • Oman, UAE and Qatar lead the regional trend with pay hikes of 11.0%, 10.7% and 10.6% respectively
  • Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia had pay increases of 8.1%, 7.9% and 7.7% respectively
  • Sectors enjoying the highest pay rise were construction and banking

The salary rise percentage is quite pathetic when compared to annual pay rises in a supposedly “third world country” like India. At least in India, I used to get a pay hike every year. The situation has worsened over the last few months, due to the slump in US Dollar, which has in turn affected the Dirham.

When I moved to Dubai 2.5 years ago, I used to get an exchange rate of about Rs. 11.75 for a dirham – there also used to be days when I used to get as much as Rs. 11.85 for a dirham. As of today, the exchange rate stands at Rs. 10.48 for a dirham, which is awfull. I have to now wait for days when there’s a slight increase in the exchange rate, before I transfer funds to India.

Sure, there’s no income tax in the Gulf countries – but then, there’s a hidden agenda here. We pay an exorbitant amount (sometimes 70% of our salary) as our rent, which I feel is not justified at all. In fact, this place is overpriced for its standards. I can probably buy my own flat for the amount I spend as rent in a year.

Transportation within Dubai sucks. I used to work in Mumbai, which has one of the best transportation systems in the world. The train system in Mumbai is awesome, while the bus system, though not as stylish as those in Dubai, is efficient. Sure, you don’t get to travel in air-conditioned Volvo and Mercedes buses, but at least there are buses every 2 minutes or less in Mumbai. In Dubai, there’s a bus every 15 minutes to an an hour, depending on the traffic.

It’s most frustrating when you want to hail a cab in Dubai. The cab drivers here, give you an attitude as if they are doing a favour by giving you a ride to your destination. Many of them even refuse to pick you up – they first want to interview you and if everything goes right, they will offer you a ride. Before These are some things that will happen, when you try to hail a cab – so be prepared:

  1. Cab Driver: Kidhar Jana Hai? (Translation: Where To?)
  2. Cab Driver: Kyon? (Translation: Why?) (huh?!! None of your business dumb ass!)
  3. Cab Driver: Traffic Hoga Kya? (Translation: Will there be traffic?) (How do I know? Do I look like the traffic department to you?)
  4. Cab Driver: Kya Yaar… Wahan Bahot Traffic Hai! (Translation: Lot of traffic on that road)
  5. The Cab Driver sometimes won’t stop – he might just speed off without even looking at you, or worse, point his finger in the direction he is driving to. (So, what am I supposed to understand from that??)

So, think twice before you accept an offer in the Gulf – it might not be your worthwhile at all.

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