The Pinoy Way of Life in the Emirates

Thursday, October 22, 2009



Among, the ninety two million Filipinos in the Philippines ten percent reside outside the Philippines. As searching for employment, gaining experience and exploring the world being a few of their motives for their migration.

Filipinos constitute approximately 4.3 per cent of the entire UAE population

Since 2007, the Filipino population in the UAE has shrunk by almost 20 per cent, mainly because of the palpable high costs of living in the country, the global economic downturn and higher demand for Filipino workers in other countries. “It's quite disappointing to learn many Filipinos were layed off and that my countrymen here in the UAE are declining. But the costs are just too high that saving has become impossible.” said Raymoind, resident of Dubai.

Filipinos constitute approximately 4.3 per cent of the entire UAE populationLatest figures released by the Philippines Embassy in Abu Dhabi showed there were 279,602 Filipinos in 2007, well below the estimated 350,000 previously. Filipinos constitute approximately 4.3 per cent of the entire UAE population. ‘The reason why I picked UAE over other places, is because it’s the easiest to get here unlike other countries.’ said 36 year old, Mrs. Janet Consunji, who came here in 2006.

Expatriate Filipinos are just like the other sixty per cent expatriates living in the United Arab Emirates. With their hectic working schedules swallowing up their lives and their weekends are spent unwinding and relaxing with family, friends and relatives, life is more or less the same for them all. ‘I have a very tiring job as a Sale assistant, but I need the money as life here is very tough’ said Ms. Nilsa Mae, a Sales assistant to Femina Fashions in Sharjah. ‘I spend my weekends with my family going to the beach or browsing at my favourite mall, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai’ the 23 year old added.


Richard Mata, an employee in Costa, Academic City


According to Overseas Filipino Workers report (2007), a great majority of the estimated 500 to 700 Filipinos who enter the United Arab Emirates on tourist visas everyday come here to look for work. Filipino workers in the UAE can be found mostly in huge free-trade zones in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah. ‘I first came to UAE in 2008, my only motive was to find work and make a living.’ said 26 year old Richard Mata, an employee in Costa, Dubai International Academic City.


The same report also reads that the UAE's economy depends heavily on an army of cheap foreign labour from the Asian sub-continent and the Far East. Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates are primarily migrant Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) employed in low positions in varying fields such as architecture, construction, cargo shipping, design engineering, energy, information technology, marketing, medical, real estate, retail, telecommunications, and tourism sectors or as domestic helpers- jobs that Emiratis often do not want.

The Philippine Department of Labour and Employment also has two Philippine Overseas Labour Offices (POLOs) in the UAE, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. These offices, as well as agreements between the Filipino and UAE governments, have set the monthly minimum salary for OFW's at US$400. But due to the recent hit in recession, many expatriates faced a tough call as they lost their jobs "It's not just Filipinos, all nationalities working in the sector have been affected. Companies are just shedding unnecessary staff in sales and marketing," said Virgie Calvez, labour attaché with the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Dubai.


Mr. Jerry M. Timario, Construction worker


But, most of the Filipino expats had one common thing to say that they miss their homes, their food and their green environment and they eventually want to go back to Philippines, but for now making a living is first priority to them. “I work all week; I do not get time for leisure during the weekends, just sleep. I miss my family a lot, I haven’t seen them since 2003.” said Mr. Jerry M. Timario, a 34 year old construction worker.


‘...exploring the world’ Ms. Marites Laysa

On the other hand, Ms. Marites Laysa said, “My work as a receptionist takes long hours and there is a lot of adjusting to not only time, but the environment, climate, customs and culture.” She also added that her reason for coming to UAE, was not centralized on finding work but on exploring the world and experiencing a different ambience which she has successfully done since her arrival to UAE in July 2008.

However, life goes on for those still surviving the hardships in the UAE. ‘Filipinos like to see good in everything...like a silver lining’ smiled 53 year old, Emily Kacuna Pabuaya. ‘Even though, there have been many ups and downs there have been good times as well...’she added.
Photo Credits: Megna Kalvani

1 comments:

Maisie said...

yes this is true. for every foriegner it's quite difficult now to spend their life easily in Dubai. i guess Dubai management should revise their policies. becuase such kind of thing may affect on the tourist industry as well.Yacht Charter Dubai

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