I’ve wanted to write about this since the time I’ve set foot here. Now its probably my ignorance or lack of googling skills but I’ve never been able to trace a real write up from a layman’s perspective on his experiences after landing in the middle east; Dubai to be more specific since I’m sure this city hosts countless expats and every one of those expats would have had their first days full of excitement, curiosity, confusion, anxiety and worry! I wonder why none of them ever wrote about their experiences since I’m sure that would have helped me in making this life and career altering decision. Hell, it’s not that I regret having coming here but like I said, it surely would have given me a clearer picture of life in the sands. So the mood right now – It’s an ultra romantic night, its 12:23 AM and its Friendships day here in Dubai too. Smikh, Happy Friendships day to you my dear dearest, Abhi, thanks for being there all through this time. Muiz, happy friendships day fatass, Chetan, miss you like hell bro, Ajay, happy friendships day dude and a happy friendships day to those numerous worshippers of friendship I’ve known, just like me. Please excuse the sudden change in the subject, I had to do that. Music – Zinda by strings and Prahlad’s whisperous snoring. It’s a beautiful night.
I’m not going to waste a lot of time apologizing for my lack of efforts in keeping this blog alive because I’ve done that time and again; apologized that is, promised to be more punctual with my posts but all I’ve done is dig deeper into my hole and stay there pondering upon the implications of the middle eastern life that I’m living right now. Though, I must confess that this is not what I want; a life full of nothings. I know, like I said before, I love the fact that I can come up with these juxtaposition of opposing ideas, perfect antithesis. Anyhoo, point being it’s true that I earn quite a lot of money (in comparison with what I used to earn in India) but there are countless things/people I’ve left behind and India in itself is like my mother calling. I miss the place more than I could have ever imagined. And sometimes, more than I miss my family and friends; I miss the trees, the smell of its air and the fragrance of my fellow Indians. I feel very strongly for my mother land and I wish to return as soon as possible. What I’m unsure is about when this would happen since my brain advices me to hang on. So, yes, hang on I will… till the time I can.
As usual, I’ve strayed away from the crux of today’s discussion – Dubai. So, new to Dubai? Contemplating and calculating the relocation? Have a job offer in hand? Want to try your hand at immigrating over to the land of man-made dreams? I’d like to present my findings thus far about this city, its money, the people, the food and everything else that you’ll may or may not want to know. I’d try to be as loud as I can with the information I have and questions are welcome. After careful consideration, I’ve decided to put this up on a FAQ kinda way. That’d give this write up a better flow and it’d be easier to find and understand. Here goes:
Q1) I have an offer in hand. Is it the right decision?
Answer: You have the offer in your hand. I guess your decision is made. In such kind of situations you already know what you want and the you’ve already thought of coming over, so don’t kill yourself with worry, just pack your bags and come over.
Q2) What about the city? Is it a safe place to live with or without my family?
Answer: No place in this world is safe and I’m sure you know how cruel this world is. So, no, it’s not a safe place for stupid people. Use your brain and I can assure you that no one would even notice your existence unless, of course, you’re the kind of person who likes to be noticed and someone who’d want to be the center of attention. Well, then in that case, yes you might attract trouble and that’s just about how it’d be back in India or anywhere in the world. Success always attracts troubles and danger. But otherwise, if you’re a 9 to 5 kind of a person then this is one of the safest cities you could live in. Mostly because, like I said, no one gives a fuck about who you are! Come over, make your dough and move on.
Q3) How much money do I need in order to lead a peaceful life in Dubai?
Answer: I searched a lot for this question before I came over and I encountered a lot of strange answers. Nothing helped me and that’s the reason I’m putting this in, especially for all those youngsters taking huge steps like moving in from India to Dubai. Here, I’d like to talk about the typical middle class public coming in from India. Assume you were earning 7 lakhs per annum in India. That’s approximately 45,000 Rs after tax. Now that’s a typical middle class person right there for you. You’d pay rent, food, loans and after other general expenditure you might save some money, hoping that you’re not a shopaholic like me. What does a typical middle class person (guy/girl) need to survive in Dubai? Well, approximately around 3,500 dirhams. YES!!! You got that right, that’s all you need in order to live, eat, sleep, internet, electricity, water and travel. The bare minimum will be covered in that amount. And no, I’m not even talking about a stringent set of stone written rules here. Common sense would help you. Before all that 1 Dirham = somewhere between 12.80 (lowest I’ve seen) to 13.80 (Highest I’ve seen) Indian Rupees. I’d like to give a clear idea about the kind of money I spend here. I need 1,500 for my rent. I live with a friend of mine from work and we’ve rented out a mid-sized room with a cupboard and we threw in a couple of beds and all our stuff. That’s just about it, the rooms ready. Got internet fixed up and that’s all we needed. Considering that I have lavish food, I need around 1,200 dhs. Details – One 500ml bottle of Lemonade costs 1.5 dh, 1 Egg Club Sandwich costs 3.5 dh, 1 full thali (3 rotis, 1 dal, 2 sabji, dahi, rice, 1 sweet) costs 10.50 dhs, Egg Biryani costs 16 dhs and yes, chicken Biryani costs around 18. The last two are from pretty good restaurants. So, yes, you can choose to stick to cheaper food that’s up to you. I have nothing but respect for people who live like beggars here because most of us come here to transfer money home! Point being, let’s say you were earning 45,000 in India your pay here should be approximately 10,000 dh (at the least) and if you manage to trash out your month in even 4,000 dhs, you still save around 6000 dhs which is a lot of saving as far as I’m concerned. I can assure you that the cost of living has gone down considerably right now, as on this date. This is mostly because of the real estate problem which is prevelant around here. Prices have been slashed to less than half and we still dont have takers. The money bit, if you get a job here and if they pay you anywhere in the range of 10,000+ dhs, take it. Dont think too much. We’d worry of going back later. Get in touch with me for more on this.
Q4) What about life in “General”
Answer: Uhm, I guess when it comes to life in Dubai then yes, apart from the fact that it speeds by its a place full of worry if you don’t quite have the right job. People get fired here all the time. That’s mostly because of the prevalent and omnipresent contractual agreements that most companies seem to utilize for optimum financial gain. Simply put, there is a heavy possibility of you finding yourself in a consulting firm and thereby being deputed to a client’s location. Once you reach there you’d realize that you’re not governed by your parent company’s HR or the HR of the client you work. Basically, you have no fucking rights! You’re meant to be utilized and thrown one fine day if your NT account expires. Your identity card would be disabled and you’d find your client manager waving from inside the glass door. Hmmm, apart from this life here is hunky dory, full of fun; they say (since I’m not a clubber or party goer) and yes, I repeat; days seem to get over much faster than what they did in India. So, life in general is awesome if you get into a good Dubai based company. Consulting companies will suck the life out of you (worry and tension) and there’d be nothing you can do once you land here.
Q5) How do I make sure that I have the right job?
Answer: This is a very difficult question to answer since this is a very uncertain place where a lot of IT/Software consulting companies keep mushrooming year after year. They fail miserably and take a lot of good people down with them. Those employees then need to go through the phase of not having a job, missing out on their salary for a few months and you know the rest of the troubles that you could associate with a situation like this. The deal here is, make sure you’ve done your bit of research on the company that hires you. Make sure that it has a proper existence here in Dubai because we do have a lot of people being duped. I would recommend companies which are rooted in India and have their operations here in Dubai. That way you could go and visit them and verify if they have space enough to occupy you on your return after being fired. Well, you could sit there and crib till they clear your remaining salary and relieve you, just my opinion. This is very important. Do not jump into conclusions when you make this decision. Make sure that all information about your deputation, contract and client information is shared before you fly. You really don’t want to get into Middle Eastern shit! It’s gross. Ohh and hell yeah, they will show you money – do NOT fall! Take my advice.
Q6) I have a family – give it to me, yes OR no.
Answer: Are you in debt? No. Do you have an ongoing emotional driving force which is making you leave? No. Have you gotten into shit in India and thereby you wish to run away? No. These are just a few of the questions that come to my mind. You know where I’m coming from, right? Just think about what you need and have a clear picture of when you wish to return before coming over. Family, well, unless you have a secure job do not bring them over because if you don’t have a secure job the bare minimum of what you could do is save up on money and fuel your account back in India for whatever time you have the job. If it’s a wife and no kids then yes, by all means, get her over and she could look for a job too. Women getting their men folk; well, from what I’ve heard thus far the ‘Dependency’ visa process for women bringing their husbands is different. Husbands are not supposed to be dependants or so they say. I hate the prejudiced society that I live in! Why freakin’ not? And why is it different? Whatever, I’ve got too many ways in the labyrinth to figure out right now. The war of the sexes is nowhere in my system right now.
Q7) Finally, how about food, living, travelling and other environmental variables?
Answer: Food here is fantastic! I can vouch for the food. Veggies and the carnivores both wouldn’t have problems and I can assure you that you’d only get fatter. Sigh, I hate this. One small bar of chocolate does it for me. Here is where I envy people like my roomie, Prahlad. He can eat without stopping for 2 days and probably die of over-eating but fat is one physical condition which he wouldn’t experience. Housing; I’d recommend localities like Bur Dubai and Karama for new people because of the number of stores, malls and food joints these places have. It’d be easier to get fatter and lazier if you’re around here. It’s like the Koramangala of Bangalore, everyone is here. It’s an expats ruled locality. The chinks mostly and tons and tons of mallu’s with their amazing English! That being said, travelling is an expensive affair in Dubai and yes, be prepared to cough up a healthy amount if you’re those people who like to travel and explore the country they’re in. Initially, I’d recommend you save up! Exploring will come later when you’ve saved enough. Saving is the name of the game for an Indian in this country. I know I sound like a miserly person right now but you’d see what I feel once you’re here. When you know that the 1 dirham coin in your hand is worth 13.50 Indian rupees, ahhh… you feel humbled! SAVE!!! Every penny you can. The internet is relatively cheap. I pay around 250 dhs for an Etiselat broadband connection – 1 MBPS connection. Laundry is an expensive deal too and you’d spend around 150 dhs per month on an average. This might reduce if you decide to wash the clothes you wear at home by yourself. I give them all, too much for me to handle.
There’s tons more I could write about this city and its life but then its that time of the day and I’m tired. Please be warned that there might be tons of spelling booboo’s and gramatical errors in the above write up. I tend to read my posts a few times after its published. I will catch up on all the errors and I will rectify them. Please don’t send in hate mails about what I write, how I write and why I write. Go away if you don’t want to read. It’s a humble request. Also, for all those people who’d want to judge my essaying skills… read GFHL. I do not write to entertain anyone. Advices will be heard, laughed at and mulled over. So, don’t chastise me. I cannot do anything better. This is me at my best. For more serious readers who have reached up to here, thanks for being patient.