Advanced search

Want to move to UAE but something bothering me...

(125 Posts)
FortyCoats Fri 07-Aug-15 13:25:21


We're seriously considering a move to Dubai or Abu Dhabi next year. Job prospects in our field are great, they're beautiful cities, lots of expat community events/clubs etc, lovely weather, great nightlife, outdoor activities. Basically loads of pros.

We've read up on the laws and are happy we can live with them, they're nowhere near as strict as some people have made out when trying to scare us off the idea. I have one problem though...

We have friends over there and during a Skype discussion the other evening he mentioned a few things that made me sad and angry. Apparently if I wear standing in a queue in a shop with several different race people before me, I would be called to the front of the line because I'm white. Also, where he lives, the houses all have separate accommodation for maids comprising of a small room and bathroom which have no access to the house. That part doesn't bother me as I'd never have it in me to employ a maid but the shop things bothers me immensely.

Anyone living there know if this is true and if so would I be frowned upon for politely declining the offer to jump the queue?

I really can't go if this is the case so DH would have to go alone.

FortyCoats Fri 07-Aug-15 13:27:00

Why do I never preview for errors!? blush

Too many to correct but it still makes sense

Coffeemarkone Fri 07-Aug-15 13:34:17

" I'd never have it in me to employ a maid "

No offence, but I bet you will after six months in UAE.

I am not sure about UAE but know it to be 'liberal' compared to say, Saudi Arabia.

What you have mentioned would be offputting but at least it would be something you could make a (small) stand against.

I have a friend who had been in Oman for years, and I simply cannot understand why she would be happy in a place where women/girls routinely have their genitals mutilated

TheSpottedZebra Fri 07-Aug-15 13:35:59

I don't live there but have had to travel to and in various gulf/ME countries a lot with work.

They're horribly unequal societies. Indians and Sri Lankans are treated as 4th or 5th class citizens, almost like an expendable resource. If that bothers you, (and it should, IMHO), don't live there. It is a society where people don't make waves, so refusing to go to the front of the queue if that happened, or asking for better conditions for the poorest, would otherwise go down well.

And the poorest don't live where most people live - they get bussed in, ready to risk their lives building skyscrapers or laying roads, or working long hard hours cleaning. It really is like a modern form of slavery.

Almost all expats have some kind of help - labour is really really cheap. It's probably more remarkable if an expat doesn't have help.

CloserToFiftyThanTwenty Fri 07-Aug-15 13:36:30

Yes, you would be frowned upon for being - to their mind - incredibly rude

SavoyCabbage Fri 07-Aug-15 13:42:58

I've spent hours this week trying to find flights that fly into my home town but that avoid us having to change planes in the Middle East because of the way my dh and dc are treated there.

And that's just in the airport.

Coffeemarkone Fri 07-Aug-15 13:50:03

what do you mean Savoy - is DH black?
Waht kind of thing happens, if you dont mind me asking?

FortyCoats Fri 07-Aug-15 14:06:41

I'm sorry, but I won't have a maid! Maybe it's the term 'maid' that bothers me. You may as well say 'slave' to me though I accept that's just my perception.

I got the impression you had to treat the 'maid' as a lesser citizen and that they would treat you like royalty shock

That is fucked up on too many levels for me and I suppose I really didn't believe him when he said it.

The job we do would have a fantastic wage. Indonesians doing the same job receive a tiny fraction of that. The argument is, they are still earning more than they would in their home country so they're delighted with it but it makes me angry.

Maybe I have anger issues. Fair enough. Unless someone can tell me he was exaggerating, I won't go. I refuse to live like that.

favouritewasteoftime Fri 07-Aug-15 14:07:38

No, what your friend said about queuing is not true. The part about the maids' accommodation is sometimes true but more often they have a room inside the employer's house. It is an unequal society for sure.

Coffeemarkone Fri 07-Aug-15 14:10:34

well surely it would be up to you how you treat your 'maid', just the same as a cleaning lady or au pair!
Hell I would have a maid like a shot! I might balk at leaving poo stains and so on though. I would probably end up cleaning up before she came grin.
I was also thinking of UAE a few years ago so do understand your doubts.

NickiFury Fri 07-Aug-15 14:12:52

I visit Abu Dhabi and Dubai a LOT. I've never been called to the front of the queue for being white, if anything I have to put myself forward as people don't really do queuing so much there ime. In fact the last time I was there I had a minor tiff with the ticket man at Dubai bus station because he kept serving everyone men in front of me.

FortyCoats Fri 07-Aug-15 14:30:57

That's what I was thinking - you treat your employee as you see fit, with respect and kindness. I'm sure most people do but if I had a cleaner or au pair here I wouldn't have them shuffling around my house and behaving 'less than' because I was employing them. The impression he gave me was that they automatically behave this way as a matter of culture or something and it would make me feel incredibly uncomfortable. If we could sit and have a cuppa and a chat and then back to work or whatever, I'd feel better but anyway, it won't happen so no need for me to discuss further.

It's probably wrong but I'd feel okay with men being served before me. If it happened at home, I'd lose my shit but over there it's their culture so what could I do but accept it. The other way round is just an awful thought.

Lot of thinking to do I reckon.

Thanks for the replies smile

Cheerfulcharlie Fri 07-Aug-15 14:45:55

The queue thing is just rubbish, however if things like that and the fact that different nationalities get paid differently for the same job and treated differently, wind you up....well, let's just say you'll be wound up quite a lot over there.
Sometimes the maid accommodation is separate to the main house - and the maids much prefer this to give themselves more privacy! Yes the rooms tend to be smallish (probably bigger than a box room that an au pair might be given in the UK) and almost always have their own private bathroom but sadly this sort of accommodation is often far better than they have come from in their own countries (usually Sri lanka, Ethiopia, )Philippines Etc) Maids often complain about their relatives in their home countries always expecting lots of gifts etc as they are seen as being well paid. The uae is a melting pot of nationalities all coming from completely different backgrounds and what might seem shocking and unacceptable to a westerner is actually something that people in another country / situation might be envious of. i am not saying treating people differently because of their nationality is right at all, but it definitely goes on over there as quite a normal and everyday part of life. Incidentally, although the queue thing is entirely false, if it were the happen, the local would get called ahead of the westerner :-)

Iflyaway Fri 07-Aug-15 14:49:17

Well, of course you would treat anyone in your employment with dignity, you don't suddenly drop your standards once you move there.

If I went to live in a society where it is "normal" to have a maid, I would at least see it as someone being able to send back money to their family, and their children no doubt, back home. It maybe that family's only life-line out of dire poverty. Maybe even education opportunities for the children.

Having said that, I still think it is a shit system and indicative of the outrageous inequality in our world.

FortyCoats Fri 07-Aug-15 14:54:18

He said that too. About the local being a step above. Like I said in my last post, that wouldn't bother me as much because I know my worth is not determined by my race. I would just hate to think some people would feel their race played a part in their right to dignity and respect and being treated lesser than others would be accepted by them (as they were reared to believe it) but also very hurtful.

I've heard enough. I can't do it. I'm soft as shit and all that craic would just enrage me first and then leave me crying.

missorinoco Fri 07-Aug-15 14:56:40

I was once told "members only" when I went to go into a bar in the UAE. When we said we were meeting a friend we were told "Oh, you are British, you can go in."

This was over 20 years ago though, one would hope it had improved. Back then the pay discrepancy with race was also real.

CloserToFiftyThanTwenty Fri 07-Aug-15 14:58:07

I couldn't do it either, Forty, I wouldn't want to be complicit in that sort of society. And there is no way that I want my DC being brought up there

chippednailvarnish Fri 07-Aug-15 15:02:31

Why don't you actually go and visit?
There are plenty of places in the world with very similar outlooks and forming an opinion based on other people's opinions carries very little weight with me.

That said UAE isn't a place I would live.

alli1968 Fri 07-Aug-15 15:07:59


I lived in Abu Dhabi for nearly 4 years and you will see day to to day events that you will feel unfair. Many bangladeshi and pakistani men who work in the construction industry often live together in large compounds on the edge of AD and Dubai in conditions that westerners would consider unsuitable.

The queuing thing i experienced a couple of times in 4 years but its not usual.

I had a house that was on a compound and a very normal set up is for a maids room to be in the house normally at the top - not massive but a bedroom with an ensuite. Not as large as the other bedrooms but plenty big enough. Some houses have drivers rooms which are separate so they do not live in the main house. Sounds weird but quite usual there.

If you choose to move then as said before do as you would be done by.

We are a very normal family and had a phillipino housemaid and an occasional pakistani driver which was not in any way unusual - I now keep up to date with both on FB having returned and despite many conversations both still choose to call me Madam - much to my horror and amusement of my friends. They were the loveliest people.

Its not a system that is defendable in many ways but its the decency of the melting pot of the nationalities that make it work as wrong as it appears in black and white.

FortyCoats Fri 07-Aug-15 15:08:48

It's not their opinions though chipped that are swaying me. It's the confirmation that people are treated so differently based on gender and race. The queue thing seems to be wrong and really my worst fears have not been confirmed but I've enough evidence here to confirm its a society I can't be part of. Shame as it would really have made such a difference to our lives. I'm happier finding a different route to ending our money woes than being upset by something like this.

I feel a bit 'head in the sand' about it and that in turn makes me feel quite guilty but I know I can't do anything about the human injustice over there. I really can't. All I can do is not play a part.

Thanks again for all your replies. Much appreciated smile

scallopsrgreat Fri 07-Aug-15 15:10:08

I was also be very wary of women's rights, attitudes to women and if you have any children what would happen if you split up.

Youvegotthelove Fri 07-Aug-15 15:12:35

I live in Dubai and can hand on heart say that the queue thing is not true. Some places do have different queues for women/families but not everywhere.

I have a maid (she doesn't live with us) and in my home, the word maid is synonymous with cleaner ie I would not expect her to do anything that I did not ask of my cleaner in the UK. She is paid regularly, tipped heavily, bought presents at Christmas and on her birthday, and treated with respect at all times.

Yes, there are lots of inequalities here. But I really dislike it when people rant and rave about it when they have never been here and have just read a few hugely exaggerated articles in the Daily Mail.

BlisterFace Fri 07-Aug-15 15:17:31

OP the post by CheerfulCharlie says everything I want to say really. It is not an equal society but the queue thing is nonsense. I am not aware of any FGM in Oman either - I understood that to be a primarily African thing. It is certainly illegal everywhere here and just as culturally abhorrent as among right-thinking people in the UK.

I live in UAE and have a maid who has a room in my house. I pay for her healthcare and a flight home every year which is the norm. Her room has AC and an en suite. I don't really need a maid as its just me, but working hours tend to be long here. Before I moved, I was like you and recoiled from the idea of employing someone. On balance I now think the positives outweighs the negatives. She is Sri Lankan and is paying for her children's education using her salary. Some incredibly poor people (by world standards, not just British) want to come to UAE and work to improve their standard of living and that of their families. I have been snarled at on here for employing "help" in such an unequal country, but I cannot in good conscience conclude that she (or her kids) would be better off not being employed by me.

FortyCoats Fri 07-Aug-15 15:18:15

See, that's lovely Alli smile

You had a relationship such that you are still in touch and that's something I'd like. To make a friend.

It's not really the accommodation for the driver or the lady, just that they would feel at home and welcome and laugh and join in and eat with us.

I accept cultural differences. That's fine but we all feel our feelings don't we? We all are capable (biologically) of every emotion. It must feel degrading to be treated as a second class citizen. I know they have more money than they get at home but that's not the point. Where they are living they are treated differently, maybe not by every individual but by societal structure?

I'm over-thinking now.

FortyCoats Fri 07-Aug-15 15:21:06

I'm starting to think he was blowing everything out of proportion now!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now