The curse of being born as a UAE expat

No one gets to choose where they get born. Don’t get me wrong, UAE is a great country, and I’m sure there are worse places and circumstances to be born in. However, being born in the UAE as an expat is so destructive to a person in so many ways that it almost feels as if it’s a curse.

Whenever a UAE expat complains, he is quickly fired upon with the same answer: “if you don’t like it then leave”. If you’re a UAE born expat, I’m sure you have gotten used to hearing this phrase. It’s hard to explain to the regular expats how that is not an entirely valid solution.

From the day you are born until you reach 18, you have practically no option to make any sort of critical life decision. It’s true that you grow up and reach puberty, but the more you grow up the more you feel tied up to the status-quo.

By the time you reach 18, you would become so infused into the life you are in that you are only faced with one decision: find a college in the UAE, which is the natural progression for every 18 year old UAE expat. Unless your parents decide to save the rest of your life and send you to a college outside the country, it would be an extremely difficult task for you to either convince yourself to leave or even convince your parents to let you leave.

Growing up in the UAE, you start to be exposed to racism, descrimination and favoritsm at an early age. If you’re an Indian, I apologize on behalf of all the other Expat races for the overwhelming sadness and self esteem attacks that you probably had to go through. Getting titled as a ‘Hindi’ and being made to feel racially inferior has become something so normal that the Indian community has started to separate their kids from others and place them in “Indian Schools” that are officially everywhere in the UAE.

The Emirati kids eat most of the pie. Their position as the most superior human-child-being is unanimously agreed upon by the school, the teacher, the class mates, the janitor, the law and the government. Even your own parents will teach you that you must not get in any trouble with the Emirati kids.

While the other Arab kids do have their strong standing, they’re all automatically categorized into the inferior ‘Zalama’ that may only get an upgraded social standing by having a second foreign passport such as American, Canadian or British/Australian.

At school you are regularly made to recite the national anthem. You didn’t know any better. So you proudly sang it and even stomped your feet for what you considered “your country”. You were also made to write poems to be sent to “your king, the Sheikh”. You had a lot of love for Sheikh Zayed (may he rest in peace), but you never really knew why. Your parents told you he was great, and so did everyone. But did he personally benefit you as a UAE born expat? Not really. He left and left us and all our poems with us. His son took over with the mission of raising his real people, and he is raising them climbing on our backs.

As soon as you finish school, you are slapped with the reality that you must find a college or else you must leave the country. Your daddy can’t sponsor you any more, and the Sheikh doesn’t give a damn about you – regardless of how many love poems you sent his late father. Leave the country? And go where? Where can you go when Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the only two places you know after having lived 18 years in the ‘UAE bubble’? Are you “crazy” to leave this “heaven”?

Usually at the age of 21, life begins, but it seems that in the UAE, that’s when life ends. That’s the point that you realize that all your life you have been slowly built to become nothing more than an expendable robot who’s mission is to serve the Emiratis.

Getting a job exposes you to a life that is no different from how things were in school. You’re still inferior, and it is clearly shown on your paycheck. Racial inferiority has become so official in the UAE that it has become quantifiable.  Your value becomes nothing but a number on your salary certificate.

The starting salary for a fresh non-Emirati graduate is about 3000 – 5000 dirhams. It’s not too long before you find out that all the money you paid for school and college, about hundreds of thousands, results in you probably working a job outside your field, and getting a pay check that isn’t enough to get back your education investment even if you work for 10 years. How exactly can you make your parents proud if you did have a connection or a 4.0 GPA? On the other hand, the Emiratis and kids who did college abroad and got foreign citizenships are rolling in money and experiencing the true feeling of being in an advanced rich metropolitan city.

That’s when you start getting forced into the loan culture. Forced to be socially accepted by having a car and wearing branded clothes and accesories. Taking that first car loan is so easy that they are willing to come to your room for your signature, and come back after a few days with the car delivered right to your door. Next step is getting that iPhone X, that fancy phone, so when your friends or acquaintances sit with you, you can flaunt it on the table. There are monthly payment packages  from Etisalat or Du that only needs your ID, signature and a 30 minutes waiting time.

A loan here and there and you are finally settled with a car, phone, place to stay and absolutely no future other than working like a donkey watching Emiratis get promoted, while you stay in the same position for years until you finally wake up and decide to make a change. Can you leave? You can, but who’s going to pay the hundreds thousands of loans you accumulated?

And in case you ever forget. You will never be a citizen or get recognized in any way, not even a residence permit. Obey your boss, because if you get fired, you’re back into the forest hunt. A 2 month grace period to find another job so you can continue living in the country you were born in and not get jailed for unpaid debt. That’s when you get some dinner, go to sleep, go to work, obey, do what you have been programmed to do, and teach yourself not to think outside the box, and simply wait for a time that this curse gets lifted.


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Yinka

The racism is high here

Fedaa

This is not racism, this is the truth and facts.

Faiza

Each and every word is true

Farrukh

Superb truth said..i passed through all these phases of life and now im in mid 30s and must why i born in UAE !! Regret of life and waste of life.. racism and discrimination !! Dont talk about it !!

Ranju

This is bullshit… You don’t know UAE

Sultan

You are bullshit man.

Ahmad Shumayal

The other stuff has elements of truth except for loans. So many expatriate people have never taken loans. That instantly eliminates half of the write up. That said, majority of the children leave at 16, 18 or definitely 21. As visa sponsorship becomes impossible for males. Then you can enjoy the अच्छे दिन thanks to Modiji in India. Or go elsewhere and repeat the struggle in an European country. Grow yourself and when you become a good professional, come to the UAE with a powerful passport because it is still the most comfortable and best place to live. You cannot… Read more »

Winyaj

Not true. Studiying in Indian school in dubai taught me my best qualities. I have no stage fear. I can deal with multiple nationalities and cultures with confidence and respect. Especially going back to India to do college opened my eyes to how much better of a personality development you get from attending school here compared to those who attended school in India. You may not realize this now since most young people do not have it easy in the job market nowadays. But trust me, you have a better chance of doing a job interview better than the person… Read more »

Hussain Fahmy

The writer is most probably suffering from a very low self esteem of himself. The world is full of opportunities for an optimist. We are not restricted by race, religion or the place we are born. There are plenty of stories of people from the Sub-Continent who have made it from rags to riches.

Deepak

I beg to differ this sounds really bad and extreme on the local community here. I am an Indian and I was born and brought up here in Dubai. I’m 24 and I continue to survive here all by myself, I did my bachelors here and started with a basic pay scale you mentioned for a ‘Non Emirati’ and I have fortunately worked my way up to 5 figures and continue to go further up. Unlike any other city in the world, this city teaches how to live and work in a multi cultural environment and respect each other. Yes,… Read more »

Rameez

Well, I am Pakistani born in UAE expat, for Indians its still better than us atleast you get a still somewhat decent paying job with us they think of us as drivers, truck drivers, farmers or helpers, Yes and I am an Engineering degree holder so I managed to escape the paradigm a little bit only to get stuck in it again, when I started working, don’t worry Oil days are numbered as evident now eventually they again like in the 1960s will come to us seeking jobs then probably we can show them that human beings with their talent… Read more »

Tariq

Wow……all is said here 👍

Ved Shankar

This is a good article that focuses on the realities that every expat child needs to face.

Of course, it differs from situation to situation, but the general issue is Dubai is a great city but it might not be the best city for our generation.

In terms of the visa, employment flexibility and eventually raising a child here, there are many issues that expats must consider and balance with their job market and skills in the industry.

Abdul

Yes I accepted this comments. As a father for my three kids who were been born & brouht up in Abu Dhabi, UAE, I am facing the same problem and falling under the same category. This country should recognise the children who has born in this country. Which ever nationalities they can be but in the end they were born in UAE soil. Should be proved. End of the day they are also like local, talk like, act like, behave like local , spend like and live like local. Inshallah one day they are going to help this country since… Read more »

Adel

The article is bullshit. If you want to know the meaning of racism go to Europe lol 😂Dubai is 100 times better than those countries. UAE has changed life of millions of Indians but then a d**k head comes and writes this kind of crap which doesn’t make sense. No one attacks you in Dubai for being an indian no Emarati can harm an expat there is a law here which is same for everyone. No one is gonna tell you if u don’t like leave the job lol Stop writing crap and lying to people Indians who moved to… Read more »

Jeff

looking at the statistics and demography in the region, let me ask you a logical question:
What is the expat population of UAE ?
What is the combined population of India,Pakistan,Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Phillipines, Nepal,Egypt,Jordan,Lebanon,Syria and Morocco, not taking into account, rest of the world ?
Would it be logical to conclude that there are much more people working in the above countries than the UAE ? Are they surviving and happy in these countries?
Therefore, what is the problem ?

Firstly, let me wish the author of this article ‘good luck’-because he/she won’t be able to live here for much longer by writing stupid articles like these. Secondly, the author has made a rather rash assumption that “Since I am Indian and I am suffering from racism, every other Indian also suffers from racism in the UAE”. This is the biggest problem in this article. The generalization that the author made is invalid and hilarious. I can assure you that there are many people who haven’t faced racism and even if they have, it is to the bare minimum. Thirdly,… Read more »

Jameel Usman

Well I agree to most of the contents in this article. Been living here for 38 years and don’t know to call anywhere else home except UAE. As you started, nobody chooses the place of birth but I can conclude everybody has an option to choose their life they want. Most of us endured what you are going through but this is life and every place throws it’s on challenge. We have to accept it and hustle. On the bright side every good thing you give into life it comes out in another way to us. It may not be… Read more »