I think if slavery became legal, the UAE would be the first country to enslave 90% of it’s residents. This can be seen by the way the UAE makes their laws and rules in a way where they can achieve maximum legal control over individuals’ lives.
Some will defend all of this by saying it is to maintain order, I say it is control under the disguise of maintaining order.
Expats sign mandatory 1 or 2 years contracts and after arriving to the UAE their career starts to look nothing like they signed.
Transferring to a new job is mostly not allowed by the government. They don’t want you to have a career ladder.
Having a second job or a part-time job is illegal and can lead you to a fine, jail and deportation.
If your manager tells you that you cannot leave work yet, then you cannot leave work yet. You’re going to work all night and you’re probably not going to be paid for it. Why? Because he can hire someone else that doesn’t ask for overtime or care about having a social life.
If you don’t like it your only option is to leave. And leaving before your contract is over means paying the expensive contract termination fees and getting a UAE ban.
Paying fines or losing their jobs is not an option for most people specially when they’ve already used all their resources to arrive to the UAE, and the government knows this.
A recent survey shows that 85% of UAE residents are in debt. That’s pretty much everyone except the rich people that don’t need loans. The UAE government has squeezed most of it’s real estate within a tiny percentage of it’s overall area which causes a hike up rent prices.
The price of a yearly studio apartment is about 60,000 dirhams to be paid upfront. A newcomer to the UAE cannot afford that kind of upfront payment, not even a seasoned expat can.
Hidden product taxes have already pumped up prices so much, and the UAE goverent recently added a point blank 5% VAT that they will spend on everything except you. You receive absolutely no “tax-payer benefits”, instead you are pushed deeper into the quick sands of financial slavery.
The Emiratis themselves are also being enslaved in a more subtle way. UAE banks extend extremely high loan options to Emiratis even though these amounts are mathematically not possible to be paid back, but the government supports it.
The average income of an Emirati is around 20,000 dirhams per month. Emiratis can be regularly seen driving cars that cost at least half a million and and buying houses that cost 2 million and up. Add a credit card or two with a 200,000 limit and here you have an individual with millions of debt and, of course, their whole salaries go to their extravagant life needs with nothing left to pay the loans. They remain at the mercy of the government to release them from jail. This I call, government assisted self-enslavement.
Mental / Psychological slavery
Most of the UAE’s police fleet has been converted into disguised civilian mobiles, to maintain fear on the streets, that at any moment of time there could be a policeman watching you. And boy, do they have a long list of excuses to stop you or suck your hard earned money.
Among the list of traffic violations are “having stickers on your car” and “your car being too dirty”. You can’t event live with the small sense of achievement that your car looks a bit unique. I wouldn’t be surprised if soon UAE residents get stopped and sniffed if they have taken a shower or cut their hair.
A significant percentage of UAE’s police force has also been converted to “CID” agents – secret agents, basically. There’s always two assigned to every coffee shop, they act like your friends and open up topics with you. God have mercy on you if you are caught talking about something that you’re not supposed to be talking about.
The Problem and The Solution
The UAE spends a lot of money to make itself look irresistably good to the people outside. That’s why so many people are lined up begging to live in the UAE. This is what makes the government careless about the current expats, because they are expendable. Surprisingly, UAE expats themselves have become like parrots, constantly repeating how good the UAE is, specially when they travel abroad, and giving the UAE free marketing services.
The only way UAE expats can become less expendable is when the outside world knows the truth about what they are lining up for, and less people desire to come to the UAE.