Getting Over the Dubai Syndrome

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Most of us with any knowledge of politics or medical literature will be aware of the Munchausen Syndrome or the Stockholm Syndrome. In recent times, you will be amused to note that a new syndrome called the Dubai syndrome has emerged from the UAE. The Dubai Syndrome is nothing more than a longing for being once again in the city of Dubai while being allowed to work and live there- just like in the boom times of the real estate industry.

While many of you reading this might be smiling or dismissing it as hardly rooted in reality, the truth may shock you. For those that had spent many years of their working life in Dubai, or indeed those freshers for which this indomitable city gave them their first chance of a well paid job complete with an enviable lifestyle, Dubai remains a city they love but were forced to leave. Back in their home countries, many of them spend a lot of time reminiscing about the good old days in between applying for work and going for interviews.

There are a few that cannot reconcile with the culture and the conditions of work at home, added to the increasing demands and reduced salaries. These are the ones that will miss Dubai the most. But it is important for them to gauge the reality of the situation and come to the conclusion that the past is best left buried, and the sooner they get back on their feet, the better it will be for them and their families. While most of us look at the Western expatriate population as the major losers in this scenario, the truth is that most of them have been successfully absorbed in their home countries or in another part of the Gulf.

In fact it is the wage earners of the third world that have suffered the most. It was they who had been sending the much needed foreign remittances to their families in the home countries that supported people at home as well. It was a life of sacrifice but many were forced to do it because of lack of job opportunities and low pay at home compared to the Gulf States. Many of them took loans from banks or even loan sharks in order to pay for their fare.

They were assured that they would be able to pay it back as conditions improved. Dubai's downfall has hurt all of these people in many ways. There are the property investors, the financiers of its development projects, the major retailers and a whole lot of small and medium sized business owners who had bet on the continued growth and prosperity of the emirate. Dubai properties had been once the fastest growing sector, but now it seems that role has been overtaken by Abu Dhabi. This can be seen from the interest in Abu Dhabi property for sale compared to property for sale in Dubai.

Many of the returning expatriate migrant workers now prefer the more stable and conservative environment of Abu Dhabi to work and live compared to the recklessness of Dubai. With the property boom at an end, Dubai’s economic woes forced scores of migrant workers back to their home countries, where jobs are scarce and wages on the lower side. This is the cruel reality they are forced to face. In the Third World, chronic economic stagnation, high unemployment and low-paying jobs have long been a cause of frustration among workers, especially the young.

The oil-rich Gulf, for long the bedrock of remittances for the poorer economies of the world, has been losing its charm. Dubai had built itself into a booming trade and tourism hub on the backs of foreign workers like Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Filipinos and the British-who have been behind many of its building and developmental projects. But in the aftermath of the property bust and the financial crisis, workers who remain in Dubai are going to get less money than before to send home. High unemployment and low pay are already a basic cause of hopelessness in the poorer countries of the Third World.

For much of the Third world, Dubai was a symbol of prosperity, offering a better and more liberal life. It was an escape from poverty, violence and other socially imposed restrictions. As these Third World workers return to their impoverished homelands, they once again face the reality of chronic underemployment, low salaries and few prospects.

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