DUBAI – The grass is always greener at the other side, this age old adage holds true for the thousands of migrant workers in Dubai who have left their homeland in search of a better life for themselves and their families.
Those who come to Dubai, one of the seven emirates of U.A.E, will not miss the sight of foreign workers in their midst. They are ubiquitous, and can be seen working at petrol kiosks, shopping complexes, cafes, restaurants, hotels and resorts.
Many also earn a living as personal drivers, public transportation drivers or toil under the hot sun as construction and farm workers.
Take Abdul Majeed from India and Bobby Joe from the Philippines for example. They have been working in foreign lands for years and despite the sweat and tears, the whole experience is priceless for them.
FOLLOWING FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS
Abdul Majeed who hails from Kerala, India first set foot in Dubai in 1992. He literally followed his father Kunhyam Mohamed’s footsteps who embarked on the same journey in 1985.
His father worked as a cook in the palace of one of Dubai’s prominent sheikh for 15 years.
“When my father fell ill, I came to Dubai and worked as a driver with the same employer. I was 23 years old then,” said Abdul Majeed who was driving a taxi in his hometown before coming to Dubai.
Abdul Majeed stayed and worked for nine years before returning to his hometown. A year later he returned to Dubai and worked as a driver with a new employer, a private company.
His second job lasted 10 years and Abdul Majeed, the second of six siblings, returned home once again and this time around he tried his hand in a restaurant business with a friend.
“I stayed in India for three years, but then I decided to return to Dubai and got a job as a company driver,” he said.
After years of working abroad, Abdul Majeed told this writer that his current stay in Dubai might be his last.
“I have worked in a foreign land long enough. I want to go back to India and and do whatever work I can in my own country,” he told Bernama.
MUST COUNT YOUR MONEY
Challenges are abound for those working in big cities. Abdul Majeed could well testify for this. For him, the greatest challenge was to manage his earnings as the cost of living in Dubai is very high.
“I am so used to Dubai and I still can survive because I am very careful with my money, or else I would not be able to save for my old age,” he said adding that he cooked his own meals to save cost.
According to Abdul Majeed, he has seen the increase in the toll rates, transportation charges including train and bus tickets, over the years that pushed up the cost of living.
As a company driver, he earns about 3,200 AED a month (about RM3,258) inclusive of food and housing allowances.
To cut cost, Abdul Majeed rented a bed in a house in Satwa, an area in Dubai. The house has three rooms and in his room there are six single bed. He pays 700 AED (about RM713) a month for the bed.
He also buys groceries and other necessities from hypermarkets and cooperative supermarkets as the prices of goods are cheaper there.
“I want to save as much as I can before I go back to India for good. I have bought a piece of land and built my own house with my earnings. I also bought a car.
“Those who are working abroad should save as much as possible for their old age. Or else, it would be a waste for them to work thousand of miles from home and have nothing left at the end,” he said.
Abdul Majeed holds his family very dearly in his heart. To him, his family is everything. They are the reason he left India so that he would be able to provide a better life for them.
“I am getting older. Maybe I will work in Dubai for another two or three years,” he said.
Like Abdul Majeed, Bobby Joe, 47, from Manila, the Philippines left his homeland when he was 25 years old to seek greener pastures.
Despite having a good job with a popular fast food chain in Manila, he decided to accept an offer to work with Taza BBQ Chicken in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1993.
His decision to leave his country was not only to look for greener pastures but more to gain new experience and exposure by working far away from home.
“My neighbour was working in Saudi Arabia and he told about the country and the fact that there was no night life at all. To me that was immaterial.
“I went to Saudi with three friends. After two years, I was the only one left. One went to Italy, the other went back to the Philippines and another friend is working in Abu Dhabi,” said Bobby Joe, the youngest of 11 siblings and hold a degree in mathematics.
LOADS OF EXPERIENCE
Sheer hardwork and determination saw Bobby Joe getting promoted to assistant manager just after six months into his new job.
Bobby Joe’s current post is operations manager and he has been assigned to Dubai to oversee the company’s business expansion plans.
“Working abroad has helped me to improve my personality, particularly in terms of leadership qualities and patience.
“If in the Philippines you need to be patient with your customers but in Saudi, your patience has to be this much,” said Bobby Joe, stretching wide both hands to indicate the high level of patience required in dealing with local customers in the Kingdom.
AWARE OF RESPONSIBILITIES
Aim high. This is what Bobby Joe believes in. For him, those who are willing to sacrifice leaving their homeland to work abroad should be willing to work real hard to excel in their work.
“Don’t just be contented at where you are or what you have. You need to aim high and achieve much more. Only then your sacrifice will be worth it,” he added.
When asked why young Filipinos prefer to work in other countries, Bobby Joe told the writer it was a norm for them to do so.
“By 18 years old, they already dream of becoming rich, buy a good house, a car and get married.
“That is why they don’t mind going abroad to countries like Saudi Arabia or Canada, to name a few, as long as they can earn good money even though they have to sweat it out, as long as they can have a better future,” he said.
Bobby Joe has some advice for youngsters who want to work abroad.
“You should also be prepared emotionally as there are too many temptations. You must also manage your money well, never throw your money in buying too many gadgets or going for holidays.
“You must save well for your future,” he said echoing Abdul Majeed words on saving for retirement. – BERNAMA