Why Dubai sucks

Why I left Dubai and won’t come back, part 2/2

This article is the continuation of  Why I left Dubai and won’t come back, part 1/2.

Please read the first part HERE.


6. WOMEN are not the same as MEN

The rules were created by men in a society dominated my men. That says it all.

For example, as a woman, if you are raped, you are fucked – literally! I have read about so many cases of women that, after being sexually abused tried to seek help from the authorities, to only end up in jail for having “extramarital relations”. It’s like the fact that those relations were unwillingly held doesn’t even count. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, being a woman, there is a very good chance things will turn against you, even more.  Where were you? Who were you with? What were you doing?

If you are raped in the UAE, you are fucked!

If you are raped in the UAE, you are fucked!

Polygamy is also something that places women on a different level than men. A man is allowed to marry up to 4 women, as long as he ensures to treat them equally, providing for them and their children. Up until this point, it sounds fine – having a guy that pays the bills, provides you housing… what’s there not to like? Well, not only the romantic notion of marriage is mutilated by the fact that you would have to share your significant other but, as a wife, you are objectified by the fact that you are put in the same shelf as the other wives. Somehow society tends to think that, as long as treated equally as the other women, wives would be happy. As if economic stability was all there is to marriage.

If they were to make a UAE version of the famous TV show, it would be called "How I Met Your MotherS"!!

If they were to make a UAE version of the famous TV show, it would be called "How I Met Your MotherS"!!


7. CENSORSHIP – brought to you in all shapes and colors!

Worst than having someone censoring you, is being part of a society that has its media and arts auto-censoring themselves, for the sake of avoiding punishment.

If you live in Dubai and really want to know what happens there, either you read the international papers or, much better, look for personal blogs on the internet – these will probably be anonymous and have a limited life span before they get blocked, as many other websites are. But only those can probably give you the full scoop, as local media would never publish anything that might be considered immoral, against the Rulers or Islam, or has anything to do with sex, nudity or pornography.

Special K package in the UAE

Special K package in the UAE. With censoring stickers very conveniently placed.

Defamation is taken so seriously in the UAE that, I even know about the case of a guy who, just for publicly mentioning cases of poor service in restaurants and other local services at his handle “Name & Shame”, not only got his Twitter account shut down but was caught by the Police. I-n-s-a-n-e! You are not allowed to say or write anything that might be perceived as negative, no matter if true, even if you are stating facts rather than personal opinions.

When you type the URL of a website that is blocked in the UAE you will come across this unfriendly message.

When you type the URL of a website that is blocked in the UAE you will come across this unfriendly message. Blocked websites during my life in Dubai include Flickr, Skype and anything remotely controversial or erotic.

Censorship will not only influence the sources of information but, as well, the arts. In one of the first concerts I organized in Dubai a band that was playing sang the word “fuck” and I will not forget those 15mins of telling off that the owner of the venue gave me, for being afraid of the authorities that, often, attend these events undercover.

A person can live without saying the word “fuck”, no big deal. But what about all the movies that I have watched in Dubai with censored scenes? Even The Simpsons Movie had a scene censored when Homer and Marge kissed! If they can’t look at cartoons kiss (even though they have been married for the past 23 seasons…) they wouldn’t obviously allow shoots taking place in the country, when those include nudity, immoral behavior or any not-so-good reference to the country or religion.

Blog anything that the government doesn't agree with, and you're gone...

Blog anything that the government doesn't agree with, and you're gone…


8. Those who stay in the Emirates tend to become “SO DUBAI!”

If you stay in Dubai for too long, there is a very good chance you start becoming “Dubai“. What does that mean? Things that might have not felt normal to you when you arrived, start becoming acceptable. Being part of the microcosmos that Dubai can be, it’s easy to loose touch with other realities.

Making friends in Dubai is a task! People tend to have a “come and go” mentality. Why get attached to someone when you know that sooner rather than later this person or yourself would end up leaving this place? Might as well keep things superficial and have fun, right? No wonder I have met so many people while in Dubai and stay in touch with so few of them.  People would rather “network”, not hang out.

It’s easy to be surrounded by people in this city and yet, feel all alone. You party, you go out to drink, you go on weekends to Oman… but where are all of these acquaintances when you have a problem or need someone to talk to?

Already getting to know people can be frustrating. How to meet people in Dubai 101 goes as follows:

“Where are you from?”
“What do you do for a living?”
“Where do you stay?”

And BAM! You have been labeled! Specially the “where do you stay” part, says a lot about your status in Dubai. If you stay in Marina, JBR, The Palm and any other area that includes the word Jumeirah in the name, you are cool. For other places, we would need to talk further and see if you are decent material.

There are pros and cons to having a family in Dubai. The major advantage, I would say, is the multicultural society. It’s definitely key towards a tolerant behavior that a child is exposed since a young age to kids of other races, nationalities, religions and cultures. In theory, this sounds brilliant, but in practice, most young people I have met who were born or at least raised in the UAE tend to carry way too many prejudices for their ages.

Not only will they be “so Dubai” labeling others based on their differences but they will probably not understand what the words “struggle” and “hard work” mean. Most kids in the UAE have been raised in well-off families. Many would have had nannies and maids. End result: there is a very big probability they are spoiled. If you see luxury all around you, of course you don’t know what the world is really about.



Don’t get me wrong – not all kids are little devils in Dubai. There are, of course, great children as well. But even if you manage to raise your kid in Dubai with great morals – which is a very subjective concept to begin with – he/she will end up being a victim of a rather superficial and unequal society.

The UAE is considered the most liberal country of the Middle East. Following this, Dubai is certainly the most forward between the 7 Emirates. Comparatively this might sound good, but on its own, I don’t think this is good enough. In Dubai, everything lies under the surface. If you are socially and economically affluent, it’s easy to keep yourself distracted and just focus on whatever matters the most to you on an immediate level. Never go deeper than that, because it’s like moving sands…


9. If you can PAY for it, then it’s OK!

What a hypocritical society! According to Sharia law liquor is not allowed - apparently, the Quran is very clear on this. Still, all hotels and restaurants/bars attached to hotels can serve alcohol, as long as they pay high license fees – which obviously reflect in the price of drinks. I guess they know that, without alcohol, expats wouldn’t stick around for long. But, what kind of principles are these? If something is wrong, then it should be wrong all the way. You can actually purchase drinks at specific liquor shops (provided you have a license that your employer – yes, your employer – must approve) but may luck be on your side if you are ever caught possessing alcohol outside a licensed place.

You can't but... oh wait, yes you can!

You can't but… oh wait, yes you can!


Prostitution is another field of entertainment that will give advantage to those who can pay well. Although totally prohibited in the country, everybody knows how easy it is to hire the services of a prostitute in Dubai. I hear Russian and Ethiopian ladies are amongst the most desired. In Dubai, not only there is prostitution but there is luxury prostitution – the higher end they are, the less probabilities they have of being caught, as everything happens much more subtly. Then again, if you can pay, it becomes (almost) OK.

And talking about money: how can there be charity fund-raisers when this country is LOADED?
I am pro fundraisers, in many cases, but every time I have come across a fund-raiser in Dubai I couldn’t help but wondering: why wouldn’t the government support these causes, when they have so much money?

On my first job in Dubai, I helped organizing a charity concert to raise funds for an institution that worked with special needs kids. Apparently, this organization was short on means to give assistance to all the families that had a kid with mental handicaps . All cents count towards the cause, but when the government could easily fund this kind of institution, it feels wrong to run campaigns appealing to the common people. Money shouldn’t be an issue here.


10. You can LIVE in Dubai all your life, but you’re gonna have to LEAVE

As an immigrant in the UAE, when you have a job, you are granted a resident visa that allows you to stay in the country. But what happens when you retire? Well, when your services are no longer needed, you are going to have to go.

Live in the UAE all your life and then go die somewhere else...

Live in the UAE all your life and then go die somewhere else… (from

I have met people that were born and raised in the UAE and have NEVER even visited their countries. They feel almost local, except for this “little” detail: one day, when they retire, they will have to leave. Where to, if this place has been “home” all your life? You might as well leave when you are young and can start a life somewhere else.


- – -

Dubai offers enough distractions to keep you away from thinking about the points above. Those who think, will not talk much. You can criticize things lightly between your expat friends but, for what really matters, YOU DON’T HAVE A SAY! And I doubt that’s about to change any time soon.




While many Arab countries are flowering during the Arab Spring, the UAE will remain the same. Why? Because the rulers make sure Emiratis are content with their existence. At the beginning of 2012, for example, all UAE citizens (not residents) have been awarded a 100% raise on their already inflated salaries. Where else in the world would this be possible? Of course you wouldn’t want to speak up against your country or those who rule it.

Obviously, not everything about Dubai or the United Arab Emirates is awful. If it was, I wouldn’t have lived there for 4 years. But it is outraging for me to think that most people across the world still think of Dubai as some sort of “promised land” where richness and glam await you. Depending on who you are and, particularly your background, that might be the case. But: would you want to live in a place that, no matter how rich it is, still treats people like cattle? No thanks, not for me…

And you know what pisses me off the most? That some people who know well what kind of sick shit is going around there, don’t actually care, because ultimately it doesn’t affect them directly. For many, it’s “every man on their own”, no compassion, no sense of society or brotherhood. Let’s not look at ourselves too much and forget about the big picture, because at the end of the day we’re all human and we should all have the same basic rights.


Have you ever thought of moving to Dubai?

Have you been there before?

What do you think of this place?

Subscribe to the Backpack ME Newsletter

Tips, fun stuff, and TONS of inspiration! Straight to your inbox!


  • Pingback: Why I left Dubai and won’t come back, part 1/2 | Backpack Me

  • ahmed Says

    you are brain washed by dirty and corrupted west if dubai employed you just shut the f**ck up if you don’t want leave.

    • An onymous Says

      ^^^ That pretty much sums it up

    • Zara Says

      “If Dubai employed you just shut the fuck up!” – this is exactly the kind of mentality that I don’t want to deal with anymore. Just because someone employs you does that mean you are stripped of your rights to comment or to simply have an opinion about them or something related to them? For me, that does not make sense. There wouldn’t be an evolution of thought in this world if everyone just accepts anything as it comes and shut up about it. We would still be living in caves if everyone was like that.

      • Atif Khan Says
      • anon Says

        You weren’t stripped of your rights. You’re perfectly free to leave when you want.

        • Zara Says

          In my case, yes. But not in the case of many workers whose passports are taken by their employers for indefinite periods of time. Even if they want to leave, very often they can’t. And these situations are not so rare.

          • Monty Says

            Hello Zara,

            Very well said, very good blog but i reached late this place (: i am completly agree with you as your each and every word is correct.

            This is sad but its a real. I have been to dubai number of times and felt it during visits and come across some incidents where so called local people think that they are something.

            Salute to indians and other people from asia because of them dubai is dubai today.

            Lots of love and thanks for sharing this.
            Good bye

          • Zara Says

            Hi Monty,
            Thanks for your comment!
            Most Asians don’t get much respect around Dubai.. but one thing is true, daily life as we know it would simply collapse if all Asians were removed from the UAE overnight! ;)

          • Muhammad Hafez Says

            You can’t have a second marriage without the consent of your wife, which invalidates your argument against polygamy; which is also something that had zero effect on your status and way of life.

          • Muhammad Hafez Says

            Say it like it is, Zara. You’ve made some valid points, and then you’ve ruined them by directly associating them with some aspect of Islam that you are not familiar with. You dislike Sharia and thinks Islam is a backwards ideology because it’s not as liberal as where you’re from. If you are that uncomfortable with the way muslims live their life, that everything to you is Sharia this and Sharia that, then you and your husband should never return. You didn’t push for reforms, you didn’t protest it. No. Instead you’re on here shitting on Islam and muslims in their developing nations all because they don’t wipe your ass.

            “… if you manage to raise your kid in Dubai with great morals – which is a very subjective concept to begin with…” THIS is why censorship exists there.

            “…local media would never publish anything that might be considered immoral, against the Rulers or ISLAM (here we go again), or has anything to do with sex, nudity or pornography”. Hmm wonder why

        • Johnny Fox Says

          I was in Dubai from ’80-’82 and was happy to leave but no one forced me to stay there; I did not like it but there were many good things about it: more money than I could have earned anywhere else; great friendships with decent local Indians, pakastanians, and arabs alike; the adventure of living in an arab culture and society. I found the laws strict but fair and merciful, especially the local arabs. I totally respect the arab countries for obeying their koran. I only wish christian nations were as obedient and loving to the Bible as the muslums are to the koran.

      • Johnny Says
      • bob Says

        @zara, atif

        Your a dumb person you can’t see past your Nose

        Dubai is Fake
        Fake smiles
        Fake water
        Fake trees
        Fake islands

        The real hero’s are the Indian subcontinent , Sudanese and filipino workers who made this fake Disney land

        107% GDP debt

        The desert reclaims this fake lying dump

        • Feefz Says

          That’s a very incorrect figure my dear. Our sovereign wealth fund is one the largest in the world …Over 500 billion N that’s because the world shut down … do your home work hun. Alhamdilla

          I see your enlightened leaders telling people they are their families are going to die, or to go out , smoke because nicotine helps, inject your self with disinfectant.

          Our leader came out and said don’t worry. We don’t have any food shortage , loans are deferred , rent is not a concern, No body was fired and everyone is working from home and receiving a salary. Kid are being home schooled the ministry of education provided laptops for the kids and the telecoms providers provided internet for free to whom ever needed it. People are remaining in their homes willfully and leave only if they need too. They’ve donated Because we are educated , kind and care for our communities as a whole. The UAE is A country that is leading humanitarian efforts of CoViD-19. all around the world , not just money but a physical presence of brave men and women who are putting their lives on the line to help reunite loved ones and bring them home.

          We’re not backward or racist but you’ stayed in Dubai for 4 years and most of the information that you have is incorrect.Other than the shaaria law.
          In regards to selling alcohol and it being forbidden, according to our religion… this is true however , We do not sell it , drink it , sit with people who drink it , pay for it nor do we serve it to people.We are tolerant of the residents and they have the right to do as they wish as Islam is not their religion and they do not have to follow it. Also your argument makes no sense what ur saying we should do is the equivalent of us saying it’s mandatory for you guys pray 5 times a day with us. The meaning of The word Islam is peace. We have our religion and you have yours. Meaning we do not judge you for yours or lack there of so do not judge us for ours as we are accepting of everyone for they’re actions not for anything else. They have you pay and the hotel pay to be able to serve alcohol and for you to buy it as has to be regulated as monitoring it is a cost to the government. Or you would have a black market situation where people would be paying in the thousands and other things that come with black market crime. ?

          Yes there is human trafficking/prostitution it is not legal and there’s not one city In The world that is not plagued with the problem. We don’t legalize or decriminalize it in our country by calling it an escort service that don’t “solicit “ sex but your getting sex if you pay! Also sweety like you said we’re a rich country and they pay us to “Shut up”. That’s why our law enforcement and legal system is so strong because money can’t sway us to do something wrong just as easily as it does to people around the world.

          Also let me be clear everyone works for a living, however there are a lot of fundamental needs that the government takes care of for us such as health care , education etc. Which gives us more disposable income. Where ever you look in life there will be someone with a better situation than you. Work to get to what you want but, be grateful for what you have.

          You aren’t grateful for what you have your your watching people’s successes too much that you spin everything in a negative light with no understanding what so ever.
          Also, when you say that workers are exploited here , you have no idea how in depth the labor laws are here in the UAE. Again you can not blame it on DUBAI if you guys are misinformed on your rights , have not read your contracts And do not know your own HR policy where you work. Trust me the law is mostly to protect the employees rights. If you did the same thing abroad , no one will tell you that what they’re doing is against the law because you don’t know and you’d be worse off than here . People here are less imaginative with laws that effect the people’s well being .

          As it comes to polygamy as you said you have to have the means to take care of them all equally as well as their children and needs . However the father and the husband is more than just a provider there are many other duties that he must fulfill in order to be considered to be treating the wives equally and taking care of the family. there are many verses and sayings of the prophet that “allow “ up to four wives but it is discouraged -but it is a solution in some cases

          Such as a married man taking aa widow as his second wife because she has young children so that they are taken care of.

          Or after a war as the women’s population has gone up and there are less men. Men are made to sew their seed where they may and women are biologically programmed for monogamy. It helps with the balance of the population and procreation. Look at how the one baby law still affects China till this day.

          We are not degraded as you say nor are we debased by our men . We are respected and empowered by our husbands, brothers fathers etc. We do have rights just as equal as men in regards to this subject specifically it is as follows : A woman can have it in her “prenup” that she doesn’t want the man to take a second wife. According to Shaaria law the first wife must agree to the husbands second marriage and has the right to refuse. She also has the right to ask for a divorce.
          Where as in other societies people are married both cheating , STDs and STIs I think that’s a loveless marriage because he doesn’t even care enough to put on a condom!

          Ohhhh and democracy Democracy it’s 2020 and the West are still under the illusion that there is such thing as democracy. It’s just something they sell you to believe that you have some part some say some free will cause you don’t get jack shit else. Yap yap … no medical care… yapbyap… u pay for your own pensions… yap yap… the government robs you than they over spend making the richer richer , the poor poorer and leaving ur economy worth nothing. Not even enough to protect the medical workers who lay their lives down everyday for the people. No appreciation for the value of life.

          We have not for voted our leadership But we chose them blind folded , with no questions asked . That is called loyalty and faith. We will choose them and our country over anything and we have such love and loyalty that we would lay down our lives for it.

          Would any of you lay down your life ?

          Here’s why we don’t complain it might come as a surprise to you because you would never know what it’s like but, we are happy we don’t have anything to complain about . That’s why we have nothing negative say… guess what else there are local and federal government departments that have been structured to fulfill our every need as a human being. So if we do face a challenge in our life our government supports us through everything . Also there are departments that provide opportunities for us in our lives in so many aspects . from the day we’re born and until the day we Rest In Peace and we know that our children will live the same life we did so their children too.

          Also Emirati or resident if you have an issue that you feel that you can not handle on your own. Our leaders open their majlis ,which you can visit and speak to the leadership face to face speaking on your challenges and what you’d need. I never never seen this any where around the world where the leadership are that close in touch with their people that they take 2 days out of their week and meet and discuss what they can do for their citizens and residents to make their lives easier.

          About that fundraiser issue you raised a family member of mine works in a government organization called the Zayed Higher Organization for over 20 years working with people of determination, we don’t call them special needs it’s offensive.

          The government does sponsor charity events it’s not that they do not have money in fact they have a lot . However they do not give it out like it grows on trees there are policies and procedures to ask for charity donation or a sponsorship you must meet a certain number of criteria to be eligible for that money. I feel bad that your charity event did not go well but it wasn’t well planned or executed and that is through no fault of the government. There’ are checks and balances companies go through especially the government ones as well as auditors that keep track of spending .
          Our government does not spare any expense when it comes to the health and well being of its citizens or its residence.

          What you’ve said about people having to leave even if they were born here etc and they and others are not welcome. You’ve just stated that the UAE has people from all over the world and it’s a multicultural country. Meaning we welcome everyone. When I leave the UAE I have to apply for a visa for that foreign country and I can’t retire there or any of that and my visa expires too and I too have to go back home. Foreign Policy???

          And actually actually have you heard of freehold…. so if someone were to decide to stay in the country they could.

          Also please Google UAE special Olympics so you can see what a humanitarian event means and what we give from our hearts not from our wallets .

          If you felt the support of a whole nation and leaders that want to give you the opportunity to reach your dreams or even space …wouldn’t feel as proud , and confident and as strong as we do.

          We are a friendly , social and welcoming nation. You lived in one of the safest cities in the world where you could walk around freely and not have to worry about knives and gunshots and nursed and kidnapping or leaving your house alone or worrying about whether u can pay for your health care if your sick.

          You come here so you don’t have to pay taxes in your own country because you have no loyalty to your fellow country men talk about out for themselves. What were you doing getting a lump sum of cash , As per your post you went out to eat at nice restaurants and you went out with your friends and you lived in a nice place because it was afforded to you while you were here. But you were disgusted by yourself because other ppl didn’t live that way?
          We actually have a good standard of living and the gap between the wealthy and the “poor” If you look at the counties with the widest wealth gaps The UK and the USA are in that list. We are not :) there will be people that are less fortunate than you in life , it seems to me if u wanted to make a difference because you do believe in what you wrote. You would have tried to help in anyway that you could. Also we do not have any homeless people or ppl in shelters . You do not end up on the streets because of any mistake life brings you. There are ways to solve problems and rehabilitate . Not left alone to fend for themselves.

          Guess what so sad to say this but you probably didn’t make friends is because of your attitude it sucks and it’s negative and no one wants that.

          Last but not least my dear lady who has lived here for four years and has nothing positive to say about her experience they say :
          Often those that criticize others reveal what he himself lacks. ― Shannon L. Alder

          Hope you have a better understanding

        • Feefz Says

          Not cool Zara publish my last comment

          • Feefz Says

            I had the right to defend my country and set the record straight about what you’ve said… why will not publish it? Let the readers decide

        • Feefz Says

          Oh okay now I know what this is… you only publish if people agree with you…or if they say something hateful. But if someone answers you with facts and has an intellectual conversation that has valid points and mayb convince people that we’re not so bad and maybe your experience was your own and does not apply to everyone you won’t publish. I dare you to publish my first comment and see what ppl have to say.

        • Feefz Says

          Hahaha u deleted my post?

      • Meti Says

        I saw the blog very late but This blog says my mind I have experienced most the the scenario that has described here and every little detail in this blog is very true and I am glad someone show the reality of Dubai .

        • Bettina Balogova Says

          Thank you for the opinions, i now should not move to Dubai, as i did fall in Love while i had my holidays. :-(

      • Gahba Parkers Says

        you dumbass, shut the fuck up. I am tired of you piece of shit idiots that come here and hate on successful countries. Go cry after trump becomes elected you little shit.

        • Bettina Balogova Says

          Shut the hell up!!! She has her own opinion, as we are living in a free world.
          It is a successful country for Emirate people, but not for people who are not born there. So no need swearing

        • Michael Says

          You seem like a very cool and smart person, thank you for commenting

        • Emirates Says

          Taayo Hayannao…Arabs are angry and racist though they do boom boom boom in my mind

      • Sara Says

        Bey bey.. Good riddence and no one care for U acutually.

        BTW,how could U visit and marry from a country known t have the biggest slavery and child labor, women rapes and racists cast system ?

        What a hypocrite U are LOL…

        Dubai is up up up up

        • Michael Says

          I was born in UAE and I have traveled the world, worked and lived in many many places. And Dubai and the UAE is the place where I have seen the most terrible things. Very racist towards Indians, who should be praised for building country, and extremely low morals and materialistic. So materialistic that a family will buy a car they cannot afford, just to look rich, and keep the platic on the seats. It’s a very sad culture. But who can blame you, you have nect to no cultural herritage. So we from the developed country’s can look at you and se all the mistakes we made 100 years ago. And since you are not educated well, you are doomed to repeat the mistakes. Good luck to you, and please try and have some respect for this journalist, she is free and hardworking.

          • Sara Says

            Yes, Portugal is very develop country LOL.
            Who are you? you are nothing for us. Look at your own backward
            countries and the treatment of Muslims and Blacks there ..How do you treat Indians in the west? I don’t remember Indians being shoot dead or burn alive in UAE like we see in USA and Australia. UAE isn’t the one that robbed India wealth for more than 200 years and killed its people.. Yes, there are many negative feeling against Indians in all GCC due to their large numbers.At the end if the day, another ethnic group outnumbering the locals in their countries peaceful is smothering you never heart of except in GCC where this Indians shameless outnumbered the native and in other countries still the largest expats community with nearly 15% or 70% of the population.. Let them do the same in any other place and its their life ;)
            What mistake? UAE is nothing like you and will never be.100 years ago it was peaceful society while you were eating each other and destroying Europe and the world. UAE is up up up ..Stay away from it and eat your heat somehwere else.

          • Zara Says

            “Indians shameless outnumbered the native” – shamelessly, seriously?
            I’d like to see what would be of the UAE without the workforce from India and many other countries. You wouldn’t have tall shiny buildings without someone willing to put in the hard work, that’s for sure!

      • Selma Says

        I was born there and lived there for 25 years before I decided to leave. That was the best move I ever made. All the evils in society and in the world, are rampant there. I had many local friends that I grew up with so I know about worst things than what you discussed here. I just knew living there would rot my soul, so I left. I am a Muslim by birth too and so are my family but I have never seen people act this way. It has nothing to do with religion and all to do with their upbringing, being taught to be arrogant because of the money they have. Doing weird things and saying they are part of the religion is wrong. Most of these ‘holier than thou’ types are the ones who go to prostitutes at night. Humans are just trash to them. Not everyone is like that, but a vast majority are and the longer you live there, those thoughts and behaviors will seep into you. You made a good move by leaving! Wish you all the best!

    • Free Woman Says

      It is absolutely typical of your islamic mentality to tell a woman to shut the fuck up! That is what you do all the time in islamic countries, isn´t it? She has every right to think, say or write whatever she wants as long as she doesn´t insult anyone or break any law. Liberty of press was granted in the UK as long ago as in 1695, but I gues you do not know that, how could you?, since you are still living in the Middle Ages. And the West may not be perfect, ( of course it is not, there are a lot of things which should be improved here! ), but it is not more corrupted than your countries and only your limited and dirty mentality can think of it as dirty. At least here we enjoy human rights ( and that includes both men and women ), and civil rights and freedom. You should watch and learn, my intolerant friend; and you should also forget about religion, ( which is a mediaeval thing, by the way ), start reading, learn something about the Enlightment, Reason, Human Rights, Science, etc. It could be a good way to finally get out of that gloomy and scary Middle Ages some of you Muslim people are still living in!

      • Yassine Daoudi Says

        Middle ages are not the same in every location on earth, while europe was stinking, Granada was shining free lady ! and go a learn some, religion is not medieval, Israel is a jewish country ! and it was made 60 years ago … so religion is rising again !

        • Israeli Says

          Israel is a jewish and democratic state. There is no democracy in the UAE.
          Judaism is not only a religion, it’s also a nation. The secular people in Israel are threatened by the rise of the orthodox jewish and by the israeli arabs. the stupid gov is encouraging a domographic battle… :(
          Because i’m jewish i can’t marry with a non-jewish, in Israel. I’ll have to marry in Cyprus. The right to marry in your own country is a human right.

          • Zara Says

            Well yes, I agree that the right to marry whoever you like in your own country is very basic. But then, how democratic is your country, really?! if you can’t even marry at your own wish, then that democracy you mention is quite a failure, wouldn’t you say?

          • Israeli Says

            That’s a tough question… religius and democratic usually can’t be at the same equation.
            The civil marriage was not an issue until recent years (maybe because Cyprus is the best solution and today we are more liberal). Today it depends on the political system. There’s one Knesset member who’s sometimes proposing civil & gay marriage but it fails because of coalition agreements with the orthodox parties.
            Nowadays we are confronting some other major problems, espacially when it comes to women and religious coercion. In Jerusalem and some other ghettos, for example, it’s very common that women are sitting at the back of the bus (the same Knesset member made it stop by appealing to the high court, but it still exists). A few months ago posting a peter-pan show on the buses in Jerusalem wasn’t that easy. They didn’t want tinkerbell… eventually, after involving the media tinkerbell was shown up.
            Israel has made a big step about women during the last 20 years and now the orthodox (becoming a big minority) want to ruin it.

            So Israel is not 100% democratic, it’s more likely claims to be a democratic. I have no idea where’s it going thru…

            p.s. Officially until 1992 Israel wasn’t democratic state.

          • Zara Says

            I agree with you that “religius and democratic usually can’t be at the same equation” – in my opíniono, religion and religious fanatics tend to complicate the societies they are part of! Even when they think they are persuing a “message from above”..

          • SonofJacob Says
        • richie Says

          You are clearly an idiot

        • Woman Lawyer Says

          The land of Israel existed well over 2000 years ago. The Jewish religion is the first religion that worshipped only one god. From that Christianity, Catholicism, and Islam all sprung–they were copycats and it is shameful that they do not respect their own origin. Even Muhammed had a Jewish wife among his many, so one wonders how many proud (or murdering Muslims) there are who are descended from her. Care to take some DNA tests?
          I am traveling to Dubai in a few months on business (woudl not go if I did not have to) and am very reticent about it. I don’t feel comfortable in a place where I have to walk on egg shells for fear of offending someone even though I am a very polite person. I don’t like being in a place where I have to worry I am going to be arrested if my husband takes my hand or arm to assist me out of a car or down a flight of stairs because there is some rule about not touching. We have no idea how strict these rules are, but I have a lot of trepidation (as well as unkind feelings) about going to the the UAE when I read about a group of men, with police watching them no less, in the Arab world torturing and killing a woman because some bum mullah lies and declares she burned a Quran. This is like Salem witch trial mentality. It doesn’t go back as far as the Middle Ages, but no people in this day and age should ever behave like that. Men who are truly confident about who they are don’t simply tolerate women, they value them.

          • Pernicious Wright Says

            The pharaoh Akenaten, whose rein was long before archeological evidence of Judeism (Mernkepta Stele circa 1185 BC) declaired that there was only one God.

            Good article. To practice as a physician you can be jailed for a year or more if the family says you caused death or disfigurement. Death is a known risk of most major surgeries. Malpractice is in the eye of the beholder.

          • Pernicious Wright Says

            Akhenaten predated the Jews, declaired there shall be only one God.

            Good article.

            Death is a complication of any major surgery. That is why it is called major. Death can get you a year or more in prison if you were the doctor.

          • Another Perspective Says

            I would add Zoroastrianism to the list, though in truth since they left next to no records we don’t really know what prehistory belief systems were like. We assume they were polytheistic but it could be a completely wrong assumption. It also comes down to how you define ‘monotheistic”. The Igbo people of Nigeria for example have a supreme being Chukwu they pray to, now subservient to Chukwu are these “lesser beings”. Now one could argue that the Igbo religon is monotheistic and that the lesser beings are the equivalent of angles in the Abrahamic religions, others define the lesser beings as lesser deities and therefore the Igbo religion is polytheistic. Somethings will always be lost in traslation so even if we did have records of prehistory there would be alot of debate as to whether those religions are true monotheistic beliefs, pan monotheism, henotheism or just plain polytheistic.

          • Another Perspective Says

            @Woman Lawyer- you mentioned DNA tests betwen Arabs and Jews (well you did say Muslim but I’m assuming you mean Arab Muslim), well funny enough that actually has been done and so far the results point to Jews and Arabs orginating from a shared ancestor and somewhere down the track they seperated into the two tribes. On top of that Palestians and Jews who did not leave Israel had so much shared genetic material it was clear they had been inter breeding for a long time. So really Arabs and Jews are far more similar then their politics would allow them to admit.

      • Mr. Ali Says

        This commenter is too prejudice to Islam and Muslims. In Burma (now Myanmar), a person wrote letters to the President (Thein Sein) and the Army Commander (Gen. Min Aung Hlaing) to investigate the murder case of his daughter was jailed 7 years on defamation. Mainly because he is a Burman (or ethnic Myanmar) but a Kachin (a member of ethnic minority). Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing are Buddhist and Myanmar (Burma) is a Buddhist country. All depends on individuals. Not religion.

        • bob Says

          Instead of quoting other countries look in your own flee infested camel toilet back garden

        • Muhammad Hafez Says

          I agree Ali. She tries to mask her genuine hatred for muslims and sharia, with actual arguments against the UAE. Women are oppressed because polygamy exists, she says. Research? What’s that? Zara will never know.

          All we can do is pray against them, and be the ones to work on our nations. People like Zara want to incite hatred against the muslims, but we can be the ones to find solutions. When these people come to our countries to start these problems, we shut them down. They think this is like their european/western countries that are getting torn apart not by their immigrants, but by their radical patriots who attack the muslims and give ISIS a foundation to cause divide, by not distinguishing (like Zara). THAT is why people are jailed for the spread of corruption which inciting hatred falls under. Because people are directly harmed by it. When it’s not true, the government will spend time teaching you when you’re in jail. Even that isn’t their responsibility. Understand that, Zara.

          Little do they know, their propaganda against Islam will not affect us for much longer. Because unlike the Jews, Allah SWT hasn’t abandoned us, and He has promised us victory over all oppressors with the return of Jesus PBUH.

          • Zara Says

            Religion isn’t the answer for everything in life. Whether they have sharia law or not in the UAE, is not the point. The point is that life over there is not fair for all parties involved. Like I said, that is independently of religion. It’s about the “rules” society goes by in the region.

      • Muhammad Hafez Says

        My “islamic mentality” tells me that you’re an islamaphobe trying to justify your bias in front of a large crowd of muslims. Stay where you are and we’ll be just fine. It’s already very clear what kind of scum you are.

    • Iara Says

      Hi, Zara! This is a very good blog. You are a very perspective person, and you really care about others. I totally agree with you. After almost 6 years of working in Dubai, I felt shallow. Everything about Dubai is superficial and artificial, and mostly all people are materialistic. I have made some good friends in there whom I will treasure for life, but I am never coming back. That place has damaged me, somehow.. Residents there then to forget that they have human rights, too. You are right.. it is a modern day slavery.. and racism abound. Kudos to you.

      Iara from Phil

    • Jermi Says

      typical Islamic extremist

    • Zack M Says

      That is what she said,She left,I did business there for 6 years the most unfair business environment I ever seen,All the government wants is to rip you off.Suck every bit out of you,Specially when you decide to leave,You better leave with nothing.

    • FUCK DUBAI Says

      suck a dick, iv been living in Duabi for years and she is right, its a fucked up city, the whole UAE is a fucked up backward country, fuck you lizard eater lol

    • Demon Says

      Accept it ..
      Its reality of ur country.

    • Demon Says

      A fake country with fake citizen.
      I visited there and saw mindless people driving luxry cars and honest people serving them.
      I totally agree with zara and respect her and her points.

    • Demon Says

      Agree with zara.
      Dubai. A fake.

    • sean Says

      What a shocker that a guy named Ahmed gets up in arms to defend dubai

    • Roy Says

      hahahahahaha —- thanks to “ahmed”, Article now seems legit .
      I got a job call from Dubai and another one from Mainland China .
      You really helped make up my mind .
      Thank you ZARA !

      Good luck to you and your Indian Boyfriend – you two have a great life :)

    • Nadeer Says

      I been to Dubai is the worst place for a holiday. Dubai city is worst then Melbourne. So if people want to go to Dubai place don’t go it sucks i don’t know way people love this place it absolute sucks. So Fuck Dubai

    • Anonymous Says

      You are insane. This is why the West will always be superior. Human rights aren’t suspended upon employment.

    • Michael Says

      You are the classic uneducated, racist Emirati that anybody who has lived in Dubai has learnt to fear. Even though most of them have no real power. But I forgive you, you culture has been smashed by western banking ideals, you are holding on for survival of your Bedouin roots and have import all other culture of which you know nothing. Living to our selfs is more deeply engrained that luring to others. I would hate to be your wife or friend or countryman. Good luck

    • Andrew Says

      Dubai is shit hole lived there from 80 to 2004…what this person is saying is absolutely bang on true. Worked there as a British engineer and helped build much of the early infrastructure of Dubai. We used to be appalled at how especially Indians, Pakistanis etc were treated…yes we took the money on offer so I suppose no one comes off blameless but we die what we could to help those poor men by inviting them to our villas, padding their paychecks as much as we could and on our site we made sure they were treated with respect safety and dignity, but I knew many sites that didnt…what’s appaling to me today is despite all the progress and advances in so many other ways Dubai is still that same human rights suite hole it was 40 years ago…will never go back and have discouraged many friends family from ever going there until they clean up their act. But as long as selfish, greedy, unethical people exist so will dubai… thank you again for this excellent post

    • Deedee Says

      Typical response from ignorant aholes. They are some of the most hypocritical, self centred people on earth and they are certainly not all that. Simply saying if you don’t like it leave ignores the fact that you get spun lines of bullshit before you arrive. You can literally sit outside and watch a building burn and the radio will be telling you how the fire went out hours ago. You can point at something happening right in front of you and they’ll try get you locked up because you offended them. They are some of the most thin skinned, immature, hypocritical self possessed people on earth.

  • I know quite a few people that went to Dubai to work in teaching although I think it was a novelty for them and they only lasted a year or two.

    • Zara Says

      Most expats stay for a few years only.. It’s a time to save up money and then move on to other countries or back to their country of origin.

  • Micki Says

    This is such an interesting article. Like @Angelina, I’ve know quite a few people who worked in Dubai (IT), but they’ve always come back after a year or so. It’s very interesting to hear about the status of women.

    • Zara Says

      The status of women is a “funny” thing in the UAE, because of the mix of local culture and traditions (heavily based in Islam and Sharia law) and the influence of western values that come with the increasing expat population… There is such a mix of people and ways of thinking in Dubai that makes “standards” a very subject thing. Dubai has a very particular kind of society, no doubt about that!

  • Arcueid Says

    ” It’s a time to save up money and then move on to other countries or back to their country of origin. ”

    That’s true. Apart from that, who would want to stay much longer in a place where there does not seem to be justice for the common people, where women seem to be cattle, where inequalities happen everyday, where ‘expats’ are supposed to be living on their own ghettos, where the high class there is supposed to know nothing about work, etc…

  • Stacey Says

    Wow this was really interesting. I’ve always wanted to visit Dubai, and had considered working there for awhile to save some money but I’m not sure if I’d be able to put up with being thought of as a second class citizen purely because I’m a woman.
    New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote, so a lot of the points you’ve made are deal breakers for me. I’d still like to visit, but when I read stuff like this, I can’t help but think that the money wouldn’t be worth putting up with that kind of life.

    • Zara Says

      Hey Stacey! The truth is that it’s relatively easy to live a “regular” life in Dubai without thinking much about the above points. It all depends on how involved you are as a citizen or not, I guess. Many people go to Dubai, earn their money and don’t seem to care much about what’s going on around them. But it does get to you after a while. Then again, if you think about it only.. for some people it’s just easier to go about their business and let each person fight their own battles. Many people get blinded by their salaries and think all the negative points are worth enduring (values tend to get flaky when large amounts of money are involved..). Maybe for a while, but it’s no ideal place to be for a long time or, in my opinion, to even raise a family.

  • Phani Says

    Dubai has a particular way of living , U dnt get emotionally attached over there, coz u knw for sure its a temporary place. I kinda liked the religious stance they had, particularly during Ramadan , coz I c all of them dng the same thng during the season. I’m an atheist but I loved the way everyone behaved in a similar manner during that particular season. I adjusted with it. Maybe my thinkin comes coz I lived for 4 years in there , but I liked the idea that a country stuck to its roots for a long time , in this fast changin times , and has moulded themselves into a different kind of breed when compared to the other Middle east countries. – I’d surely wanna go back nd work , but Ur blog made me think a lot , both positive nd negative. U made my day with this post :)

    • Zara Says

      Thanks Phani!

      What you say about not getting emotionally attached while living in Dubai stands true for many people who move there. On one side, I do understand that happening, due to the temporary nature of most people’s stay. But on the other hand, I see it as unnatural… What’s the point of meeting so many people and only stablishing shallow connections?! Particularly because you get to meet so many people from different parts of the world, I think it’s a great opportunity that should be embraced to learn things from each other, exchange prespectives, etc. Dubai is often said to have a “multi-cultural” society. I think a society is truly multi-cultural not only when many different cultures live in the same place, but mostly when they get to interact with each other and blend in… And in Dubai, I do not believe this is 100% true. Different nationalities, races, social status are still quite segregated.

      On the bright side, it can only get better! ;) Thanks for your comment!

  • Iain Says

    Good article – pretty much nails how I felt about Dubai after 6 years of living and working there.
    It may have been good for my wallet but it was terrible for my soul!

    I am now happily living in Auckland; My car is a 20 year old heap rather than a brand new SUV, I am earning about half what I was in Dubai and instead of a luxury apartment, we are still living with my in-laws whilst we get settled…

    …and I couldn’t be happier.

    Although I will freely admit that Dubai was great life and career experience and I made a few friends that I hope I will know for life, I couldn’t see myself ever wanting to return there. Ever.

    • Zara Says

      Hi Iain!

      I understand what you mean when you say that now you can live with less and be super happy! I feel the same way, but I know many people don’t when they leave Dubai or other places with inflated salaries. After earning a salary in Dubai, in most places in the world you’ll feel like the money is less… And obviously you won’t necessarilly have cheap manpower around you to work as your maids, gardeners, drivers, etc.. Like many people have in Dubai and end up getting used to!

      It’s all a matter of priorities: same as you, I also prefer to live with less (material wise) and much more when it comes to personal freedoms!


    • Hidden Says

      Wow you nailed it on the “soul” part. I just left Dubai after working almost 8 months. I gave up a good like because my family was promised soooo many things working for sheikh Hamdan . Everything I read about him was that he was a kind person but come to find out we didn’t work directly under him instead worked for a company he funded but they claimed it was working for him direct. I’ve seen things that I’m going to spend a long time trying to forget. As bad as you feel for the workers there you have to turn a blind eye or they turn on you. It’s almost comical though when it came to watching the company I worked for. They stood with their hand out to the sheikh but spent most of their time trying to screw him over and make money off of his kindness. I finally came to the conclusion most were uneducated and maybe it’s easier to rule over them if they stayed uneducated. My direct boss has a Degree that he bought but I believe he said he only made it to grade 7 in school. I can’t speak for everyone only my experience. The people I worked for were mean and soulless they abused employees by hitting them (shocking), racial name calling, holding back food, promising them overtime for working 24hrs straight and putting them horrible living. I learned the word inshallah meant “it’s not going to happen” by the people that used it at my work. The problem is that most of these people never had to work for anything and they don’t hold anything of value other than objects they own and even then most we’re given to them and can be taken away. Not saying all locals are bad because you meet a few that are kind, they do love their family, but they still turn a blind eye to the abuse and simply claim that the abuse they get here is less than where they come from. Dubai is look the movie the wizard of oz and wait until you see what’s behind the curtain. I made the mistake and bought into the hype but I’d suggest never visit or give a ounce of money to the UAE. It’s hard not leaving Dubai feeling racist towards most there unfortunately.

      • Zara Says

        Hi! Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment sharing your experience.
        I hope your life is happier now! :)

        • Somatai sara Says

          Yap,! I’m so glag 4 across this kind of pages,i’ve learn many many things that which I have never crose in my life.The words r very meaningfull n helpfull in mankinde life,i’ll never forget ur words sis Zara.were r u? Who were u with? N What r u doing? Thanks 4 ur beauteful sharing.

  • WombatPE Says

    Very interesting article. I have been to Dubai on short trips a number of times. Usually just passing through for a couple of days. But I can see all of the things you mentioned in your article.

    I disagree with you about the government should be paying for charities. I prefer to choose which charities get my money and time. Which is why I contribute both money and time to the Shriners’ Children’s Hospitals. I prefer my money go towards children since they are the innocents of society.

    But that’s neither here no there when it comes to life in Dubai. One thing I think you may have missed is the lack history. You mentioned how fast the city grew out of nothing. Which also means there is very little history. I think this contributes to the other problems you listed. A lack of history includes a lack of community, leading to the detached state of many people and turning a blind eye to the immoral.

    • Zara Says

      Thanks for commenting WombatPE!

      I think I didn’t make myself clear: I didn’t mean that the government should be paying for charities, it was more like some of those charities shouldn’t even exist! When a country is so rich, is there a need for the existence of a charity that operates to raise funds for families with special kids, for example? Those families should be getting extra support from the government directly – at least for the financial side of things, and then you could have the charities/organizations for the psychological support and the likes.

      As you say, the fact that the history of the country is very recent, does contribute to the lack of sense of community. And more than the lack of history, I think is the very quick mix of cultures from all over the world. It is difficult for different cultures to work together, to form their own standards and sense of community. On the opposite, what happens is that different communities exist segregated, instead of one big community. 

      From here on, things can only get better! It takes time for standards to be established and I guess that must have happened too in one way or another in other parts of the world in their more recent history. 

  • Annonymous Says

    Reading your article makes me feel as if someone just recited my thoughts. I am about to leave this place for the same reasons. Gr8 work. God Bless -

  • Mena Says

    I am an Egyptian, and I didn’t travel to Dubai before but got some reviews from friends and through TV, and actually I see it so artificial and fake! I know a lot of Egyptians left it and back to Cairo or other counties, they didn’t stand such hypocrisy – I guess.

    • Zara Says

      There are still so many Egyptians there, Mena!
      Many people would rather take the hypocrisy and pocket the money – which is understandable, as we all have to pay the bills! I did so too!

      But it is indeed a rather artificial place, you are right!

  • Lisa Says

    Great blog, enjoyed reading it! I have been in Dubai for 16 months and had enough. Not a bad place to live but as previously said, good for the wallet bad for the soul! Take care

  • Zara Says

    “good for the wallet bad for the soul!” – that is a perfect way of putting it in one sentence, Lisa! :)

  • Zara Says

    This is a great blog, I can relate with everything you’ve said. It’s funny because my name’s Zara too and I couldn’t stand Dubai. I was flown out there for a job as a cabin crew with the major airline there and had my passport taken away upon arrival. It just felt like a very uneasy place to be in, I couldn’t ignore the slavery and injustice all around me. I actually ended up escaping (I only lasted 3 months there and returned to the US- my country of origin). Everyone said I’d regret my decisions but it was the wisest decision I’ve ever made. Dubai is a soulless medieval dictatorship. Kudos to you for seeing the truth about the UAE- (as MANY people don’t)

    • Zara Says

      Hi Zara! Nice to “meet” another Zara! ;)

      I am actually surprised that at the airline they also took your passport away upon arrival – I thought this happens mostly with contracting firms hiring laborers and mainly unskilled or uneducated manpower. Either way, that is a very bad (and probably) illegal thing to do.
      I guess people thought you’d regret leaving because in Dubai jobs tend to pay well and I guess better than in the US, but fuck it… being rich isn’t everything in life, right?! Good for you!!

  • Mor Says

    Its been almost a year that I have been living in Dubai, And honestly, I am having the worst time of my life in this shithole. i recomment you all, never ever accept a job here because you will live a nightmare, unless you dont care about your surroundings. guyz, these arab muslims suck badly. the society is a total mess, no fuckin freedom. fuck this shit

    • Zara Says

      Sorry to read that, Mor.
      If you hate it that much and you’re feeling miserable, I can only give you one tip: make a move. Figure a way and get out of Dubai.
      No money or material compensation makes up for an unhappy life..

  • Noname Says


    I am so happy I found this blog, I haven’t found such an honest article before.

    I have been in Dubai 3 months and feel the same way. I am in a awful job that I hate, surrounded by the most pretentious people you have ever met and they are all Western – it seems (for most people) if you stay here more than a year, you turn into a bigoted, self serving idiot, only interested in money and where you live.

    I think lots of people at all levels are duped into coming here, I do earn good money and that is why I came here but didn’t know that I would be bound to a two year contract and if I choose to leave it, have to pay 6 weeks salary for the pleasure and get a 6 month work ban!

    So now I am stuck, I am also tied into a years rental contract which I can’t get out of and all I want to do is go home. I am not surprised people take such drastic measures to escape, it feels like a gilded cage.

    I can’t abide the fact we have a tea boy, who’s only job is to make tea and run around after people who think it’s acceptable to ask him to get a pen for them, or get their bags from the car….are we really that lazy that we can’t do that for ourselves?!

    I hate that it’s acceptable to scream, shout and swear at staff, knowing that there is no HR or legal recourse.

    I hate that the men that build the city aren’t allowed to enter the malls.

    I hate that people feel it’s acceptable to judge others solely based on their earnings and what car they drive.

    I hate that I was chosen to do my job because I am white and that I get paid 10 times more than people far more qualified than I am.

    I fully accept that I should have found out more before coming here and I know that I am going to have to stay here and make the best of it but I will hate every second and long for the day I can leave.

    Thanks again for the inspiring blog x

    • Zara Says

      Thank YOU – I guess you know exactly how I used to feel… and from what you write, I know how you’re probably feeling too
      Just remember that there’s always a way out, if you can compromise on some things. It depends on what’s worth it or not for everyone, at an individual level.

      Hang in there! ;)

  • Jack Says

    Dubai remains glowing only because of three countries – India, Pakistan, Iran. As long as these countries produce BLACK money, Dubai survives for sure. As long as Politicians, Bureaucrats, Businessmen and Underworld Kingpins amass illegal money in these countries, Dubai’s glamour will never fade, and they are getting what they want in surplus only in Dubai. Nowhere on earth they can splurge their money like this without a question. Prostitution, drugs, alcohol, gold and all other luxuries are freely available within a short travel time for Indians, Iranians and Pakistanis with a difference. If their money invested in Dubai withdrawn, within an over night, Dubai would be a barren desert again. If anyone looks at other GCC states, they can easily understand this equation. For them a perfect hideout.

    What you said is very true, no one out there with guts to speak their own will. In other words, they do a perfect kowtow living there.

  • carli Says

    Very interesting article!! My male best friend just moved there and I am planning to go and visit him but I am quite concern if a girl staying with a guy will be an issue in such culture.

    • Zara Says

      Thanks Carli!
      If you are discreet, your stay with your male friend shouldn’t be a problem.
      Be aware that if you go around and plan to stay in hotels and eventually spend the night in the same room, you might be asked for marriage proof at check in – it doesn’t happen in every hotel, but it does happen sometimes!..

  • Jay Says

    Hi Zara.
    This is a well written article. Firstly I am a Filipino. I saw and experienced everything you said here if not indirectly. I worked in Dubai for two years. My salary was way below what was promised me over the phone by my employer; half of what other nationalities whiter than me with the same or even less qualification. I was able to “escape” with my passport and am now back in Manila (that’s another story). It has been three years since I left and I am now earning quadruple of what I was back in Dubai, as opposed to some stories of people being happy earning less after their stint there. Race definitely plays a big role. The UAE pays westerners attractive salaries while the concept of an Asian professional is incomprehensible. Although your article brought back a lot of bad feelings, I’m thankful you wrote it for the world to read.

  • Rishit Says

    An eye-opener of an article. I’ve read similar pieces before around the internet, but this was concise and clear – the murk beneath the gleaming surface.

    P.S. As for my personal experience with the UAE, I spent exactly 11 hours there once. On my way back home to India from a Kenyan safari trip with my family, we decided to stop in Dubai because my sister and mother wanted to shop. Unfortunately I ended up in the airport unknowingly dressed inappropriately – I was wearing cargo shorts, a Homer Simpson t-shirt and Nike flip-flops. My hair was slightly on the longer side, and had been braided at the back by Maasai people during a traditional ceremony.

    My appearance made me an obvious target, as I painfully realised. This, and the fact that I’m Indian (a Hindu, for all assumptions). They searched my bags and found savannah grass and mud in my in the lining of my pant pockets that they claimed to be MARIJUANA. I was detained for 11 hours under nonsensical drug charges and my parents somehow managed to convince them that I was innocent (much thanks to one of the more sensible and humane customs officers), and I was deported back to India.

    I’m NEVER going back there again. Or anywhere in the Middle East, for that matter.

    • Rishit Says

      EDIT: During my detention, I was subjected to what I can only describe as deliberate but subtle physical and mental torture – I could tell that they were trying to break my spirit. I was kept in a room with temperatures low enough to make me shiver uncontrollably and almost hyperventilate at one point due to lack of food and water for 11 hours. I was ridiculed for feeling cold amongst other things. Every time that they took me out into the city to get mugshots and stuff taken, they ensured that religious music would be playing at deafening volumes inside the police transport van and the officers driving the van would heckle and laugh at me throughout the journeys.

      • Zara Says

        Hi RIshit,

        Thanks for sharing your story here.

        Man, I feel for you. Of all the “horror stories” I have read about Dubai, this one comes across as so fucking
        bizarre!! I had read before a story about some guy flying in from Europe (Amsterdam if I’m not mistaken) who had some milligram of weed or hash stuck in his shoe and that caused him trouble. Don’t ask me how they stopped that in the airport, but somehow they did. Now, in your case, GRASS? Just regular grass?!? So unfair, so inhuman.

        Unfortunately, the authorities behavior that you describe doesn’t surprise me one bit. They don’t care (I had my little experience once getting a traffic fine and being spoken to as if I was a “woman of the night”.. but obviously nothing near what happened to you) – they care even less if you’re from India, or Asian in general.. or just not white, to be clear. It sucks, it’s retarded, but it’s true.

        I understand that you wouldn’t want to go back to Dubai – but I’d rather think that the whole of the Middle East doesn’t fall under the same category.

        Thanks for your comment!

  • Ria Says

    All that glitters is definitely not gold in Dubai…it takes a while to realise it. one thing not spoken about here is the terrible situation expats find themselves in should they lose their jobs and owe money in the country. Its treated as a criminal offence, your employer is obligated to imform on you. I know one guy, a doctor, lost his father suddenly and then his job when he wanted to go home, his passport was taken away from him and told not to leave the country, therefore he could not do anything to help himself as no passport no new job, his money has ran out..he is now a professional man walking the streets with nothing, sleeping on sheikh zayed road, sitting in malls in daytime, hasnt eaten in much longer can he survive like that? Its a wicked, wicked country
    holidaying you would not probably come to realise many awful things happening there..stay a while and the penny drops…

    • Zara Says

      Hey Ria,
      You are right – a lot lies under the surface when it comes to life in Dubai and tourists just passing by won’t obviously get to see what happens beyond the glitter. Although keeping an employee’s passport is technically illegal in Dubai this is a super common practice. In fact, universities do this too for some reason.
      As you say, it’s a very wicked place!..

  • Kyle Hanson Says

    I’ve been to Dubai back in early 2010. I thought it was utterly shocking the amount of construction going on I never seen anything like it. Dubai is really awsome. I don’t see myself being qualified to work over there but I would like to maybe one day. I did notice the “blind eye” is pretty huge. I also felt like I better not step out of line “or else”. Just looking at the Arabs I was like what are these peoples deal? They walk around there malls and drive those nice cars and stand out in front of the hotels but I felt like there was no soul anywhere. I mean it’s artificial at best. Something you go WOW! and then you feel the intimidation of the Islam thing. These people are very serious about their religon or at least they look like they are. So why would they want this huge western city without the western culture? It’s like that jealous rich kid or something I really didn’t get it. It was fun as hell though. I thought it was kinda dumb how they had everything in such order like how all the buildings are in a row. That rich kid that wants to show you how rich he is and at the end you two are just staring at each other with an awkward silence. I kinda sensed their was alot of fucked up shit going on. I could only imagine it’s corrupt as shit.

  • Kyle Hanson Says

    And another thing was the presidents picture is blown up and posted everywhere. Just looking at his picture scared me. I was like, “eh don’t wanna say nothing too outta line here”. I mean there is all that intimidation. There is too much order for what they are trying to do I guess. I felt extremely privileged to shit in the dubai mall. They got a real nice set-up over there.

    • Zara Says

      Thanks for sharing your view on Dubai, Kyle.
      It’s not as intimidating as you say on most days but, you are right – you don’t wanna mess with the law or anything local over there. Thins can derail easily and sometimes it’s just better not to find out what’s the worse that could happen!

  • Wissam Says

    Great article. I have lived in Dubai for 27 years of my 30 (my parents brought me to Dubai when I was only 9 months old)… I so much agree with all of what you noted. If I had the time and a long peaceful vacation, I think I could write a dozen of books on this subject. I did not leave Dubai because I wanted to do so, it was more of a work-related move, but I am so happy that things went in the direction they did. I live in Germany for the past 3 years and do not have to visit Dubai for work that much.
    It’s a pity that in our modern world, people still think Dubai is paradise on earth…I mean those who never actually lived in Dubai… Dubai was a nice city to live in all the way until the mid-90′s…and then, well, you already summarized it quite well. Thanks!

    • Zara Says

      Thanks for your comment, Wissam!
      As someone who grew up in Dubai and spent so many years n the UAE, I really appreciate your perspective. It is not very common to meet people who spent most of their life in Dubai (or elsewhere in the GCC for that matter) who have not so nice things to say about it. More often than not, those people live in a bubble, are privileged above the average, and therefore lack the sensitivity to understand what’s going on around them. Maybe it is because they never lived elsewhere and they are used to that reality only and thus, that is “normality”.
      I am glad things worked our for you – enjoy Germany!! :)

  • Joshua Says

    If my company ever offered to send me to Dubai, I’ve known for years I’d outright refuse. There is nothing there to attract me. It’s environmentally unsustainable to have a mega city in the middle of a desert (plus being Scottish I can’t tolerate heat over 20C). I really struggle to be around Arab/islamic culture for too long too; especially as I feel really isolated and excluded from it and only able to engage on a very superficial level (and then usually only as a “customer”). And hen the human rights situation turns me off – I understand at no country is perfect, but for one positioning itself as being so developed and engaging ao much with he outside world, it’s really not acceptable to essentially have slaves, oppress minorities and quash free speech, I even hate transferring in the airport.

    • Zara Says

      Ha, it’s funny you “even hate transferring in the airport”. It’s probably one of the best things in the emirate! ;) For everything else, I down right agree with you.

    • Mark Says

      Good mate stay the hell out in your drunk nation better off

  • TUPAC Says

    DUBAI hahahahaha just I can say Indian or Pakistani country

  • John Says

    So Dubai is a rich city/Full business Facilities/High constructions/Entertainment and Excellent business etc but the only problem to me is the Rude Rules that they announced in Dubai Mall That woman should wear respectfully no shorts or she can wear shorts but she have to cover her legs for law reasons and the salary is like for working for your boss day/night like the slavery in ancient Egypt then ”Well Done” you are getting just 200 ~ 300 DH per month + Not even having a time to check your children statues even and the worker don’t money and food/etc for working 5 months like a robot and you STUPID MOTHERFUCKING COMPANIES ADVERTISE ADVERTISE ADVERTISE ADVERTISE ON THE TV/MAGAZINE/BILLBOARDS/FLYERS/CAR/BUSES AND ETC JUST TO TORMENT THE WORKER LIKE THE DAYS IN WW2 AND MAKE THE POOR EMPLOYE RICH FOR HIS OWN SELF ONLY AND THE RICH ONE YOU MAKE HIM POOR CHEERS EMAAR AND THANK YOU!!

  • John Says

    I’m a Lebanese and i feel pretty embarrassed and ashamed to represent My Arabism and i swear to god one day i will leave Middle East for all its #$%$ that’s happening all around me maybe to Australia/Romania or even Mexico and i hope i never represent my arabism after i do this as well better

  • John Says


  • John Says


  • John Says


  • Sian Says

    Reading the above, I feel moved to defend Islam/muslims against the comments made here. Please don’t take Dubai as representative of Islam. I have so many muslim friends who would be horrified at even the thought of behaving in this way. Shit happens when culture and religion clash.

    I’m a muslim myself, but left Iran early for fear I’d be put in jail after I read in the Jewel Museum ‘Islamic dress must be worn’ because it so obviously only referred to women; the men were strutting around in tight jeans and t-shirts with shiny belt buckles, while the women, under Ahmedinejad’s regime, were constrained to wear chadors. Sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander! I wanted to jump up and down and scream.

    If anyone would like to know what Islam SHOULD be like, read Mohammed’s final speech, here –
    Note, especially
    “O People, it is true that you have certain rights over your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under God’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
    “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”
    It seems the people of Dubai have much to learn.

  • ABCD Says


    Thank you for your excellent piece. I work as a management consultant at one of the MBB firms and was recently asked if I’d be interested in a lucrative client opportunity in Dubai. However, as an (East) Indian American, I had heard stories of discrimination and wasn’t quite sure.

    My wife, who happens to be white, was in the Navy and spent some time in the Persian Gulf (back when we were still dating). She had some horror stories both in terms of how Arab men approached her as well as their attitude towards women in general and white girls in particular. Not to mention the overt racism and bigotry towards non-Arabs and non-whites. I had considered meeting with her in Dubai and staying over at a hotel, but her command pretty much said that that would be a bad idea given that we weren’t married then.

    Furthermore, I have heard stories from other Indians that in some professions (e.g. consulting, banking), being of South Asian or African descent is pretty disadvantageous in negotiations and the like. One of the partners at my firm was pretty blunt that my Ivy league pedigree and graduate degrees would mean squat given my skin color, and that I should be prepared for blatant and obvious discrimination across the board — from how I would be treated on arrival to how I would be treated in restaurants and clubs, or even when driving on the road. However, there would be significant economic incentive. So, while I would get paid a lot for my expertise, the “face” of the engagement would be a fellow white coworker, given “client sensitivity”.

    In any event, I was told that they associate being an American/westerner with being white, and even if you were an American of South Asian/African descent, it wouldn’t matter much at most social settings. And that I should *always* carry an American passport card in my wallet, just to be safe.

    Obviously, there would also be other “perks” to be considered, such as cooks, maids, and drivers. Given that my wife and I just had our first kid, this sounded quite great. But we were also quite leery about leaving the gorgeous and liberal New England (and our families) for a desert, especially since the engagement would be for ~2 years. And to be quite honest, as pretty fervent atheists and outspoken liberals, we were quite worried that an odd word or two spoken out in public could be disastrous. Not to mention contesting our masshole driving skills with some Emirati with an attitude.

    So for now, we have decided to simply stay put, and split our time between Montreal and Boston. Despite the pretty brutal winter that we just had, I must admit that my decision seems rather wise in retrospect.

    But I would certainly appreciate any of your thoughts on how non-white Americans/westerners would get treated in Dubai.


    • Zara Says


      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on moving (or not!) to Dubai. You have a pretty balanced overview on the whole expat thing, which is positive for you and your family. Many people let money speak louder and do not understand that there are other factors involved in archiving a good quality of life other than financial solvency.

      I think having a passport from US or from other white/western/european countries would indeed help. Particularly regarding salary negotiation. Still, during most instances in life, you won’t be showing your passport or even mentioning your nationality or previous place you used to live/work at. And that’s when your race and all the stereotypes associated with it come to the surface. It will obviously depend on what kind of circles you mingle and the people you socialize with. I am sure there will be instances when you’ll feel that people will be judging you by the way you look (your race, that is), even if in subtle ways. It is not something a person can’t live with as such, but it can be annoying at times.

      All the best!

  • Zohaib Says

    Well done Zara, thanks for sharing your experience. You have really made me to think about my future as I had been planning the same, i.e. to go to Dubai and work there for a few years (mainly to do some savings), but now I have my reservations about this country, they seem to have double-standards all over (like Liquor is banned in the country as its Haram, but then it is allowed to sell it in bars/restaurants where they have licences), also the prostitution which is done in a hidden way, big shame!
    Also, I really do believe that every person should have the basic right and all should be equal, if this is not the case then that place has no value in my eyes!

  • I saw through the shit immediately and left after 2 months of staying there.

    Everything was fine during my first 2 weeks as a tourist. But when I landed a job that’s when reality hit me. I saw Dubai with real eyes and noticed all the things you have mentioned here.

    I saw a loophole in my “offer letter” (whatever the heck that is binding but not binding because it’s not a labor contract… but it’s still binding, puzzling for sure), I was allowed to leave the company during my probationary period, which I did.

    And just like you, I may not come back even if I win a 5-day stay at Burj Al Arab.

    • Zara Says

      As I always say, traveling to Dubai and living in Dubai and completely different things. Most tourists won’t get to know the first thing about life (and work!) in the UAE.

      Good for you that you saw that and made a move. All the best!

  • Pedro Says

    Wow, Zara, well written! But I got so excited about the heated words on the comments that this became addictive! Dubai is an amazing place, but everything about it is superficial, as you well pointed out. I wouldn’t say it’s the most liberal place in the Middle East, since that only accounts for the number of Western expats, and as we all know, expats rights and opinions don’t count. After all, they got a job in Dubai, so they should “shut the f*ck up”. So Dubai!

    • Zara Says

      Exactly: I should have mentioned “one of the most liberal places in the Middle East.. for expats!”. I wouldn’t know for locals what the exact scene is, to be honest.
      Thanks for reading!

  • Alice Nguyễn Says

    Hi! I’m going to Dubai for some business real soon and hunting for all info I can get about it. From what I read here, I take that your experience there weren’t so great? Now I’m seriously worried & would be really grateful for some tips.
    My trip will last a month & it’s Ramadan Holiday. I heard that you cannot eat or drink in public in that month. Then what about inside offices?
    I take it you are not Muslim, so where did you have lunch?
    My allowance is super tight, around 20$/day max so Hotel meals are out. I was planning to cook myself inside hotel room but I still worry about carrying my mini cooker (run by electricity) on plane. Do you happen to know if it’s prohibited?

    That was lunch; Dinner is easier, I think, since restaurants are open again. So do you know some place for cheap food? My hotel is in Internet city (?)- Knowledge Village (very confusing names for me) and my office is in Dubai Media City (?) Do you know any good place around there?
    I know it’s a super tight budget but I still hope to make the best of this trip. Can an outsider get inside Muslim Temples? I know there’re a lot of malls & buildings & hotels & bars but I’m not a fan of shopping. I kinda prefer some original architecture, some old streets, to watch and live cheap and simple life rather than a luxurious one. Can you recommend me some local attractions that you love? I trust your opinion!
    It’s a very important business trip and until now, I still have no idea what I’m gonna do there. Were people there friendly? I’m from South Asia and … well, I have to say that I am scared now. Maybe in offices, people will be more open-minded?

    I know I worried an awful lot but this trip is in a sensitive time (Ramadan), with tight budget & still about works. I’m so sorry for bother you so much! You must feel pretty annoyed with this super-long comment. God, I feel like a stalker. I follow your Twitter, I like your Facebook Page, now I’m writing a 2 pages letter to you. Sorry again for being all weird  .
    Hope to hear from you soon.
    Thank you very much!

    • Zara Says

      Hi Alice,

      There is nothing to worry about. I am sure you’ll enjoy your stay in Dubai, if nothing else because of seeing a different place. It’ll be an experience!

      You may eat/drink in some offices during Ramadam, but it depends on the company. I used to work in Media City and, over there, some companies with non Muslim employees would allow eating. In some other cases I have heard of people hiding in the bathrooms to have a bite without disturbing others. There are some food deliveries operating even during Ramadan in that area. USD20/day is indeed quite tight, but doable. I’d suggest heading for the mall food courts for cheaper food options or the ready made food counters inside hypermarkets such as Carrefour. I have no idea about the rules regarding carrying a cooker with you on the place… but I am sure you don’t need to go to such extent as there are plenty of options in Dubai.

      Media City and surrounding areas are not the cheapest. Probably the closest options on a budget would be Mall of the Emirates (you can reach by metro) and over there there are food courts. Alternatively, take the metro all the way to Bur Dubai – not only this is one of the most interesting parts of town, there are many more options for good food on a budget.

      Even if you’re not a fan of shopping I’d still recommend a visit to a couple of malls for the sake of the experience. The “mall culture” is a very Dubai thing so it’d be part of the local experience! You can get inside some mosques on certain days. Ask locally about the Mosque in Jumeirah, which used to be open with talks and Q&A sessions on saturday mornings while I was living in Dubai. If you like “simple life” I’d once again recommend heading to Bur Dubai and Deira. There is a lot happening on that side of town (markets, historic district of Bastakiya, etc).

      Don’t worry about people in offices. By default, they’ll be as nice as anywhere in the world. Keep it cool and have a great trip! :)

  • alex Says

    I was working as expert IT engineering ,for 5 years , suddenly for no reason government decided to cancel the most of the Iranian visa and without any respect ask me to leave next week !! they just deport some 100 people without ANY reason just because they have might be some issue between tow countries ! they crash my life and destroyed what ever I had during that 5 years .
    This countries and most of their local people ( special in Abu dhabi )
    Not a good place
    Wish god not bless UAE

    • Zara Says

      Hi Alex,
      I’m sorry to read about your awful experience in Dubai – it is terribly that things changed in almost on time.
      In any case, I hope you managed to find something better now and do not miss Dubai! ;)

  • so dubai Says

    Thank You Zara for the brilliant article! I’ve been here for 3 years now and planning to leave soon.
    To everyone who only think that Zara just had bad experience – I also tried to explain to the “new dubaists” and warn other people, but hey were arguing – all above is still true! It’s July 2014, and it’s getting worse regarding to expenses and salaries. Accommodation prices are going insane because of 2020 Expo, however the landlord can’t increase the rental price, only with some certain percentage at the lease renewal (as per law). So they just threw you out with some bullsht reasons, then they can lease the flat for higher price! Happened to us…
    You will always hear the magic words: “Tax free” but you’ll never hear the “housing fee” and the “AC bill” before you’ll get it :-D which easily can be 10-12K/year in a small 1 br apartment.
    Zara, it would be nice to read about what you’ve been through since you left, to give some hope and faith to whom still hesitating and scared to leave :)

    • Zara Says

      Many thanks for your comment!
      I guess it does take some time for new-comers in Dubai to see past the surface, specially with the excitement that normally is involved upon arrival. Not all that glitters is gold and time puts everything on its place.. even perspectives and opinions!

  • seal Says

    Hi! I am interested in people’s experiences in Dubai, as I know a woman who moved to Bahrain with an accepted job offer, and she mentioned it was for two years. I wonder if most people experience the same thing in Bahrain as well.

  • ahmed saud Says

    Very well written article, dubai is a hypocritical shithole.
    Actually the whole middle east is same shit, fuckin yellow eyed, constipated arab basterds

    • Zara Says

      Thanks but that’s a very harsh comment Ahmed. You can’t really label everyone as being the same.

  • Aian Says

    Zara, first of all thanks, for letting thoughts materialize into words, and finally have read something that has been lurking in my mind the whole time I dwelled in this superficial and artificial place.

  • Anonymous1128 Says

    So glad to find this article. I have been here for 1.5 years and having real issues with the things you have mentioned, plus the heat. I don’t think I will be here much longer (expat wife) as my husband’s employer has not upheld their end of his contract. I have to say that there is not much that I will miss about here. Don’t feel I can say much more because I have to wonder who might be watching in this country, but rest assured when I move away, I will contribute more.

    • Zara Says

      We’ll be looking forward to reading more about your opinions. In the meantime, all the best for the new plans away from Dubai!

  • Hamid Says

    I spent a night in Dubai on the way back to the United States. I didn’t like it at all. In that one night, I learned a few things. The taxi drivers whom I met were mostly Indian, Bangladeshi or Pakistanis. Non of them were happy, and they all complained about harsh work and less pay. The next thing I noticed was outside a pizzeria, when an arrogant native Emirati was shouting to the restaurant waiter that his order be delivered to his car. Later that night I visited Burj e Khalifa (that tall building), and that too looked like another Las Vegas. I didn’t even wait for the water show that was scheduled to begin in a few minutes. I went straight back to my hotel, and left for the States the next day.

    Long story short, Dubai is fake. There is nothing Arab in it. I wish the Western development in Dubai matched Western freedom, human rights, and unbiased/transparent court system. I’m blessed to live in the States.

    A month later, my flight stopped at Dubai again, and I chose to stay at the airport for 10 hours without venturing out.

    • Zara Says

      Having restaurant / cafe orders delivered to your car is actually fairly common in the UAE..
      I get what you say about Dubai being fake. With such a cultural mix, they could be absorbing the best of all worlds… but, more often than not, I don’t think they do!

  • max Says

    Columbus risked falling off the flat earth to get to India, than to venture in the middle east area. And that’s 800 years ago. Fucked up then, fucked up now.

    i used to live in that hell hole for 20 years, i made good money. But at what cost? i agree with what the blogger has written, but there is still far far more she has left out.

    i just regret that i didnt move out earlier, complete waste of my life.

    if the blogger is interested to write a book about this place , or add more to the blog to bring more awareness, email me. i will be more than happy to expose more light on it.

    • Zara Says

      Thanks for your comment, Max.
      I do not plan on writing a book about life in Dubai. But if you wish to share more details about your experiences there over here, you are welcome to do so – I am sure another point of view will come in handy for some of our readers!

  • max Says
  • Diego Says

    Hi Zara

    I really liked your post. I am a business school student from Bolivia and to be honest, I also felt attracted by the “shining lights” of Dubai, so much so that, even if I haven’t finished studying for my business degree, I was already starting to figure out what I could do and how I could enhance my resumé so I could land a job over there (or in some of the other Gulf states). Even if I had already read something on the labor explotaiton going on there, I steel felt lured by it, thinking that sadly Dubai is not the only place where there is slavery. However, now I am really starting to have doubts about it. Even though Latin Americans are probably a little bit “higher” than South Asians or Filipinos on the racial “scale”, I’m still brown (not very brown, but brown enough for revealing I for sure am not from America or Europe), and I am now afraid that could make my life over there very difficult, even if I come from a somewhat “Western” country. I would like to know if you met any Latin Americans over there and how they are doing over there.

    I hope you’re doing OK.

    • Zara Says

      Hola Diego,

      Actually, I didn’t get to meet many Latins in person in Dubai, so I don’t have much to share. Most of the South Americans I came cross where Brazilians, mostly working as cabin crew for Emirates Airlines.

      I am sure you would do fine, depending on the job and company you end up working with. But be ready to see a lot of inequality around you, even if it doesn’t affect you directly.

      Buena suerte!

  • Elle Says

    I’ll be in Dubai soon myself, for work. Reading this, I definitely know what to look out for. Is there anything else i should expect during my stay?

    • Zara Says

      In regards to what exactly?
      Keep in mind that everyone has a different experience… whether it is in Dubai or anywhere else in the world!

  • Amir Says

    Hey Zara,
    Great post, accurate but still not enough to truly describe the UAE. Sadly, people from all over the world will fall for the great marketing pitch of the so called “City of life”.

    I was born and raised in Dubai, my dad and mum have been living in Dubai for over two decades, I have seven siblings and I am the only male child (second from last).
    About a year ago, I was detained during a minor car accident in which I was the passenger for suspicion of consumption of alcohol, when asked if I had consumed alcohol or any “mind altering” substance, I denied it and further stated that I cannot consume alcohol because I am on a prescribe med course for fractures I sustained in an accident few months earlier and my doctor had advised me against it.
    This sealed my fate, I was jailed for a year and deported back to India, a country I have never visited, now I stay here away from my family trying to get back on my feet. I will try to give a concise description of my experience,

    March 19, 2013,
    Detained for suspicion of consuming mind altering substances.
    I informed them of my condition and offered to provide them with my prescription.
    After 4 hours of being kept in a “cold” room, they repeatedly asked me what medications I was on and where did I get it from, who is my “dealer”.
    Only now did I realise I was being interrogated as a drug abuser.
    I told them, that I have a condition and if they would let me use a phone I could let my family to bring the prescriptions and I can get in touch with my doctor.
    They asked me to wait.
    About another 8 hours and they took me for a urine test.
    Kept me in the room, with just a blanket.
    This went on for the next 48 hours approx.
    Took me out and asked me to sign a paper written in arabic, when I asked what was it, the officer simply said “release”.

    March 22, 2013
    After the signing of the “release”.
    I was transferred to Bur Dubai Police Station,
    Formally charged with consumption and booked (Which I still didn’t know about).
    Only when they put me into the holding cells, an arab man, read the paper they had given me and that’s when I found out.
    I got my family to visit the police station and the prosecutor to give them my prescriptions.

    Nothing helped. Sentenced to 1 year, after appealing to the appeal court sentence again 1 year and appealing to the supreme court the same.
    My defence of prescriptions and doctor statements were no match to that piece of paper that was written in arabic and signed by me.
    The paper was a confession were I agreed to using tramadol without a prescription.
    How does the court even accept the prosecution’s case?
    The logic of their judges just escapes me, I understand the zero tolerance policy but sentencing a man and then deporting him from the only country he has ever known when they don’t even have a case?
    The laws I have learnt are actually quite good, it’s just being implemented by the wrong people. They chose where the law applies and where it doesn’t, judges and prosecutors base their cases not on evidence but by their own moods and opinions, so if you catch a judge on a bad day, your most likely to get a guilty sentence. I have met many locals who got out after a month even if they were in possession and had consumed hard drugs, heroin.

    The law is not biased, it clearly states the punishments for “ANYONE” who breaks it.

    City of life? more like, City of lies.

    • Zara Says

      Hi Amir,

      I am really sorry to read about what happened to you in Dubai. A very extreme case, indeed. I know what you mean about having to sign a paper in Arabic. I was once stopped by a traffic police who decided to fine me by the way I stopped when he asked me to. He proceed to give me a ticket for “traffic obstruction”, even though it was about 2AM and I was the only vehicle on that particular road. Long story short, he made me sign something in Arabic too. When I asked him what the paper said, because I was reluctant to sign it just like that, his answer was: “you live here, right? then…” He made a face, and I had to sign.

      As you say, maybe the rules are not so bad. But the implementation of them certainly is. Locals get away with anything, and foreigners (specially Asians) always take the worst park of the cake. Injustice all around!

      Maybe better things will lay ahead for you, who knows. Good riddance to Dubai and its lies. All the best, Amir!

  • DGB Says

    Hello Zara! I am glad to stumble upon your blog! I am going to Dubai soon with my sister and her husband. Her husband is working there. I guess he has a good salary but not that high. Maybe around 9k. So, I am willing to travel there and find a job and hopefully I could gain money from there and so I can travel to freaking Europe. Hahaha! I am surprised to read the comments. Even before knowing more about Dubai, I knew it is not the country that I am going to spend my life in. Though I didn’t know it is TOTALLY DIFFERENT there. Now, I am scared and having doubts. After reading this entry and the comments, I feel like everyone in Dubai is not in a good mood everyday. Are people there THAT harsh? :(

    • Zara Says

      Hi DGB! Not everyone is harsh in Dubai. In fact, I wouldn’t say people there in general are harsh. It’s more like, the conditions are harsh. Your daily life may be fine (and this varies greatly depending where you come from, your job, etc..). But it’s just that, if you get into trouble for some reason, things can get ugly pretty quick. I am sure, in general, you’d do OK!

  • antrix Says

    So nice and true. Emiratis are always arrogant and always look down upon you if you are not one of them or you are not English as if we are some kind of servants for them. You cant even say anything ..literally anything, otherwise they will deport you with shame or throw in some desert and keep you off limits. Each and every work.. from the construction of buildings to building a space agency is being done by expats. Locals are just cashing on the basic rights given by their rulers and are just increasing their belly size and are just being arrogant and ignorant. And what we expat get, only some few bucks more from our homeland and that too gets spend on the basic necessities in Dubai. So, its pointless to live in such harsh place. Only one thing is good in UAE– which is its crime-free image, but again you have cleared this in point 1 though :) There are variety of cities and countries we should explore and live in peace with our pride and dignity maintained.

    • Feefz Says

      That’s not true everyone has rights. We as Emirati citizens have no right to disrespect anyone’s rights or freedoms as a human being or I would be in the wrong and doing something against the law

  • Mike Says

    Hello Zara. I really appreciate that i found your blog. I am in Dubai as a tourist to look for a job because the image of Dubai projects to the world is opportunity, luxury and hope especially to third world countries. But I slowly realized that everything is superficial. I been here for almost two months now and I’m deciding whether to stay or to leave Dubai. Having read your blog gives me a reason to leave and go back home. I can’t deal that human rights violation to the extreme especially if you are a worker from a third world country. Thank you for the eye opener blog. Stay safe!!!

    • Zara Says

      Hi Mike,
      Thanks for your comment. See for yourself, don’t go only by my blog post. I haven’t been in Dubai for the last 3 years, so I am not sure if anything has changed in the meantime or not. If you are there, take your time to observe and try to mingle with people of different backgrounds. That should give you a better understanding of life in Dubai. Good luck with everything! :)

  • Adidata Says

    I am Indonesian where as a Moslem majority country.
    but I stayed long time in Europe and have staying back to country since 2000

    I know so many customs of Islam that is not suitable for modern life, but enforced by religious teachers as a way of life as the best in the world.
    I feel:
    - Religion teachers always vilify other religions
    - This religion feel that the most good for the human in the world
    - Always say another religion is not religious / non-religious / pagan
    - The way they wear are holy garments think that their sins would lost if wear
    - Another religion people should be killed

    I feel they really do not fit the development of technology and millenium era
    in lives they have doing so many hypocrisy life

    • Zara Says

      Thanks for your comment, Adidata.
      I think all religions should “modernize” themselves, in a way that their teachings can apply to life now-a-days.
      This applies to all organized religions really… otherwise they’ll eventually run out of followers.

  • Asian Says

    UAE is the fake country. A lot of fabricated things in that country.

  • H Says

    they just made a toilet for all arab countries and be paid instead of that ,you know even the word like country is far away for that should be really idiot to live in toilet

  • Lola Says

    Hi this might seem like a stupid question, that you may not be able to answer but I am building a picture from some of these stories. I was interested in visiting Dubai / UAE because I had heard good things, up to now. I am black and British and wondered if you had met anyone black and what their experiences were? I mentioned to a Somali girlfriend of mine my intentions to go there and she strongly advised/ told me not to go because of the blatant racism. She can understand some Arabic so was aware of things they would say. I might add she has never been there but this is her experience of some Arabs, and people she knows that have been there. I don’t like such things to put me off trying new things, but I worry that some extreme case could happen to me and I would be in real trouble.

    • Michael Says

      Do NOT Go there. They will treat you terribly, you will never be able to walk peacefully down the street and the locals will assume you are a protitute. It would be hell on earth. And you would be very alone

  • Najib Says

    Thank you for your article!
    If as a White with presuminly good salary didn’t like the life in Dubai then you can’t even imagine how I as someone from south asian wokring as taxi driver felt about my time in Dubai. Every single day of my life was like hell, I hated myself, I dispised myself, I used to feel that I am not worth anything and this feeling was enforecd by the way people were treating me. The only people that I have good memories about and people who teated me with respect and digity were the europeans or americans who have been tourists or just come to dubai for short time.

    I am happy that I left that shit hole 10 years ago and come to europe, here I seek asylum and got it after 2 years. Now I am an eropean citizan with a job( also taxi driver) but I feel happy, I feel like being human being again.

    • Zara Says

      Hi Najib,
      I am glad to read that you left Dubai and feel happier now.
      Cheers to a better life! :)

    • Michael Says

      I am very happy for you to get away from this terrible place. I pray for our brothers and sisters who still suffer

  • Katie Says

    Just out of curiosity, how are interracial couples looked upon. My boyfriend is Indian and I am a US citizen, white with blonde hair.

    • Zara Says

      It depends on what context! We are Indian male + European brunette European female. More than once, servers in restaurants would talk directly to me (the white one) and even say “thanks m’am” after my boyfriend paid the bill. Quite unpleasant. But, obviously, it didn’t happen all the time.

  • YS Says

    The truth is if religion didn’t exist, a lot of things would be different. People wouldn’t be able to judge others based on religion. People would be forced to use common sense in making rules and on determining what is good from bad. Ethics would not be based on what a holy book tells you to do. Being good or bad wouldn’t be related to being a devout Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or etc. Terrorism would surely not be as rampant as it is today. People won’t be able to say “f*uck you because you are [insert religion here]“. No one would be able to act or assume he/she is superior to others because of religion. Unfortunately, people would still use race as a means of judging, controlling or terrorizing others. But, at least actions would be judged based on what they are, not based on religion. No one old enough to know bad from good is innocent. We have all been wronged in one way or another and we have all done wrong. Some people learn from this and some never do. Most of us are quick to judge a whole nation, race or people based on the actions of a group or few. Even if we meet so many people from one race or religion that prove to be the same, we cannot assume that the many other millions of others are the same.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s fair for a country to be governed by a religion. Culture, tradition and values are a whole other thing. They must be respected and tolerated if you are to live in a country. Good ethics and morals are necessary. I have traveled to different countries. I do think the UAE is a bit too strict when it comes to certain things and censorship can be over the top but at the same time, I do find some Countries in Europe and the West to be too liberal with certain things. Kids are exposed to certain things too early, forcing them to grow up too fast and miss out on the innocence of childhood.

    I am also quite tired of seeing people say “f*ck you Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc etc” or the ever tiresome repetitive phrases of “f*ck you Arabs”, “fuck you Americans”, “f*ck you Israelis” and so on. It doesn’t make you look or sound cool, tough, better or grown up. And PLEASE stop with the whole “but this is OUR land, it was meant to be OURS” or “this is OUR country and it’s the BEST.” No land really belonged to anyone in the first place because there were millions of others in it before you. Every land we live in now has been lived in by others before us. Lands can be shared amongst people, there is no need for violence and terrorism. But human beings are naturally selfish and the strong will overcome the weak and call it their right. And history repeats itself. No country is the BEST, there are pros and cons to every country.

    I hope there comes a day when people stop using religion and race as means to judge, control or hurt others and actually focus on what really matters: making a decent living, living a good life, family, friends, health, helping others if you can or want to, etc etc.

  • CanadaRepatriate Says

    I lived in Dubai for 4 odd years. And for those of you commenting asking, “why did you stay there if you didnt like it” I would like to say the following. You dont go to Dubai thinking, oh If i hate it im gonna leave asap. You give it a chance, just as every place deserves. You land, you get a job, a 1 year rental lease, a car, a credit card. It takes a year just to settle in and you’re not realizing anything till that time….the 2nd and 3rd year, you are exploring the place…figuring out what you like and what you dont like….by the time you realize, wait i actually dont like what im seeing (enough to want to leave), time has already flown, and then you start to plan your exit.(the average expat stays 5-7 years) You can abandon everything and jump on a plane….or you can spend the average 1-2 years paying off your debts (which by the way most expats are in over their heads in), save up for your move, get out of your lease, and give notice to your employer, and most importantly figure out where you’re going next. Those who have moved abroad can respect that you can’t just hop around cause you see one thing you dont like. Having said that, I totally share the writers sentiments:
    - open and accepted racism, hell emiratis will bud in line infront of you and the indians and pakistanis have no guts to say….get in line lady! Afraid they might end up in jail for the slightest insult to the inflated emirati ego.
    - no employments or human rights…my visa was declined and no explanation given…i was jobless within a day, i got another visa a few months later (again no explanation as to why it was approved this time) the govt is not obliged to give you an answer for ANYTHING
    - tax free – when you add up, schooling, immigration costs, cost of living (added to cost of showing off), does it really give you a benefit? the difference from employer to employer is so huge, you’re a slave to your job, and cant leave it even if you know your rights are being violated. (unless you can find another better job)
    - lazy people who have maids to do everything. (only some expats may actually clean and cook along with their maids, most of the folks just dump everything on their househelp, don’t even get me started with the ones who abuse their maids and everyone just turns a blind eye like it doesn’t happen)
    - Hypocrites – you can wear a thong bikini at jumeirah beach, but 2 minutes away at the immigration office you have to cover your shoulders and knees….
    - service – ugh. The worst possibly in all “developed” nations
    - superficial people – honestly, with the exception of a few good friends I made there, the society generally is so money driven, the first question people ask you is, where are you from (ie whats ur passport colour), where does your husband work, where do your kids go to school, what area do you live in, its literally keeping up with the kardashians)
    - freedom! – cant swear, cant get angry at a local emirati, cant get into a verbal argument for any reason, cant be muslim and drink (cause thats not allowed) cant get a liquor license if your muslim (but the locals can buy as much alcohol at barracuda as they want) cant file a greivance against a government office (good luck with that),
    - liberty, justice, and on and on
    it took me about 3 years to realize that i was getting increasingly unhappy. and thats when i decided to wrap up and start my exit.
    The good things?
    - The weather is generally great – except when its may – aug and 50 degrees.
    - Its an easy place to travel to other places from, like Lebanon Jordan, or india or turkey etc)
    - House help, no minimum wage, or a varying minimum wage means cheap labour. it’s a real luxury to have help at home, and its totally affordable in dubai, and useful especially when you have kids. Having said that I know some folks who literally would die without their maids.
    - Savings – depends, on the economy and your employment, you can save a lot, and then the rents go up and your screwed. Theres no regulation, my rent doubled in 4 years. But of course my salary didn’t. but if your smart and don’t get caught in the bling, you could probably save a good amount. (again depends when you go, pre recession, post recession etc)
    - My experience with the medical system/hospitals etc was great, but I have heard numerous horror stories for sure
    - Ya that’s all I can think of.
    All that shines is not gold. living in dubai is a lifestyle choice, its not about saving money on a tax free income any more. its about beaches, drivers, maids, status and friday brunches and sunshine, bmw’s, and parties. personally i dont value that over my personal rights and freedoms, not to mention its suffocating living there as an atheist or agnostic, especially an ex-muslim! try being there in Ramadan! I can still understand why people from less developed nations would opt to live there, but why western expats would choose to stay there, the “im never gonna leave dubai” type, sorry i just dont get it.

    Im not saying other countries dont have problems, I am saying that economically UAE may qualify as a developed country, but it has a long long long way to go really become a developed country. So happy to have moved back to my home country. After so many years away, I really value this place a whole lot more. Don’t plan on leaving again any time soon.

    • Zara Says

      Thanks so much for taking the time to reply with such detail. I really appreciate all the different views that we’re collecting here in the comments section.

      You are so right when you mention that it takes time to plan a move: to or back from a new country. People who comment along the lines “why wouldn’t you just leave” have probably never made such a big move to understand that this type of thing doesn’t happen overnight.

      Same like you, I have also come to value my country way more than before after living in Dubai (and generally going abroad).

      Thanks for reading us!

  • Tony Says

    I received this sms from a friend who goes there to earn some extra money.The customer locked the room and dont let her out. She screamed and shouted and only later manage to leave. She even wanted to die

    Is there any help for her.


    • Zara Says

      Sorry to read that, Tony.
      But I can’t really recommend anything without even understanding what exactly happened.

  • IMRAN Says

    My honourable Zara,
    Thank you so much for exposing bitter realities.

    I’m a male, 35, married, from Pakistan.

    Let me allow to work part-time at night in UAE. If agreed, I’ll never leave this land.

    We use to stick in our room at late night because of fear of being caught by the C.I.D.

    We’ve to come out like thieves while we need to purchase something from the ADNOC trucking station stores.

    People not only stare on woman. Men are also victim of this kind of behavior.

    You’ve to take permission for every personal task from your employer except breathing and taking shower.

    You’ve to live here like robots. You’re supposed to be programmed subjected to time & motion study i.e 12 hours work, toilet, bed, sleep, wake-up early in the morning. The same routine all the year.

    No day-off in the week, in the month , through-out the year even on Eid festivals. Where are the labor laws?

    Passports are apprehended. Where are the labor laws?

    While coming back from the work at 02:00 AM at night (after 12 hours job), C.I.D does not ask us for these long hours. Where are the labor laws?

    Unmarried male & female can not live together. Why they let males to live with males in residential buildings and hotels? As, male can create ‘relationships’ with a male mate easily which are chargeable in UAE’s laws.

    Very strange behavior; your mate suspect you if you want to hang-out alone.

    Very strange behavior; If you want to talk to someone casually, they take your interview rather than introduction. people just talk you about your nationality, means of earning, salary and, place of stay. The do not even ask ” what colour do you like.”

    Being on Labor visa, You can not eat good or dress-up well because your employer and colleagues will suspect you steal money or using unfair means to afford.

    There’s no law if someone abuses you.

    • Zara Says

      Hi Imran,

      Many thanks for reading and taking the time to share your experiences in Dubai.
      I wish I had some words of wisdom to share, but I really don’t. Make the money you can while you can.. and try to find a better place where you can live in peace, with your family.

      I wish you all the best!

  • marcus Says

    nuke the fukin uae

  • Beckie Says

    I’m one of those kids raised in Dubai. I was actually born in the Al Zahra hospital in Sharjah as at the time; it was the best hospital outside Abu Dhabi (you did NOT want to be treated in any of the hospital’s Dubai had at the time!). In any other country I would be given dual-nationality or at least some form of citizenship/residency. But I don’t. I have no rights to claim the UAE as where I was born and grew up – I may as well never lived there.
    I’m aware that I lived a very privileged existence in Dubai, and in many ways I am thankful for it. That said I did not enjoy living there. I saw all the things you have mentioned on a daily basis, saw the way people pretended the problems didn’t exist, my classmates disregard and scorn for those less well-off than them and I hated it. I begged my parents to let me leave and at the age of 16 I went to a state boarding school in the UK and was stunned by how differently people treated each other. Obviously, I’d been to the UK before but it was mainly to visit family, people are so much more genuine over here. You aren’t a passing fancy or disposable (I’m not saying it is perfect, there is an awful lot of bullying and other problems in UK schools, but it was much less superficial).
    The expats I went to school with learnt how to behave from American High School movies (you know the ones where everyone is in a clique and it’s acceptable to crowd someone in a corridor and call them names/leave notes etc…), it was not a nice environment to grow up in. If you disagree with the ‘status quo’ you were weird and an ‘outsider’. I enjoyed rock/metal music and didn’t wear a bra during Year 7 (because I didn’t need to and my mother believed it was sexualising me too young); this apparently made me a ‘lesbian’. The biggest insult they could come up with because in Dubai homosexuality is illegal and they viewed same-sex relationships as gross and disgusting. People ran away from me saying I was going to molest them, accused me of staring at their boobs or saying they were going to get me arrested for being a perverted lezbo. This does happen elsewhere in the world (not the arrested bit but the bullying)… however, most countries don’t culturally support the use of ‘homosexual’, ‘lesbian’ or ‘gay’ as offensive insults. Because they’re not! I definitely agree with your statement about people becoming victims of a superficial culture and the inequalities to all those who are ‘different’ either via their gender, sexuality, nationality etc…

    I also struggled with the hypocrisy – if you are going to be a country where your religion is your law then it needs to be upheld. You don’t give certain people passes because of their nationality, gender, religion etc… Furthermore, the act of accepting money or bribes to make problems disappear is NOT in the spirit of Islam. Yet it happens all the time! Money can buy you anything in Dubai, but bankruptcy gets you thrown in jail. At the age of 14/15 I knew of 7 girls in my school that had gotten tattoos (most in ‘sexual’ areas) because as long as you pay cash no one cared. Underage? No problem, you can buy a good fake ID for 50AED easily (or they were, don’t know what inflation has done to this price). On the subject of alcohol, yes you need a licence and your employer’s permission to buy alcohol but there are ways around it, like with the prostitution. Alcohol delivery men exist, you order the booze and an underpaid asian man comes on a motorbike to deliver it to you. House full of teenage kids having a house party? No problem, slip him an extra 100AED for himself and he’ll risk it because you’ve just doubled his salary for the night! Considering your entire family can be deported for underage drinking I was shocked growing up by how many expat parents didn’t care and allowed their children to have drunken house parties. But it wasn’t just the expats! I went to an English school (which I won’t name for obvious reasons), however we did have locals and other Muslim nationalities there, and a lot of them would have drunken parties! “Inshallah, it doesn’t matter, my cousin’s brother in law is friends with chief of police! We have no problem.” – this is something I heard a PARENT saying once (or very similar words).
    It was just so frustrating to live there and know that everything was glossed over. We got a letter from the British embassy once saying they had just discovered a series of murder/rapes of white girls that hadn’t been reported in the papers. It stated that the embassy was shocked to discover the lack of media coverage and was working to remedy this; in the meantime here are some tips for staying safe. No shit it wasn’t reported! To do so would’ve been to admit serious crime is a problem, and that would ruin Dubai’s pristine, carefully cultivated image. As far as I know, this string of crimes was never reported.
    I agree with all the reasons you put for not returning to Dubai and probably have a couple more of my own, (insane road system and mental drivers anyone?!) It’s nice to read something that highlights Dubai’s problems, so many people don’t believe me when I tell them it’s not perfect and inequality is a big problem. I’ve gotten so used to people outside my small group of friends from Dubai staring at me like I have two heads, when I talk about the same things you have I was starting to believe I may have actually grown two heads! I wish you and your SO every luck in your continued travels, I hope you enjoy yourselves and stay safe!

    • Zara Says

      Hi Beckie,
      Many thanks for sharing your story and life experience in Dubai with us.
      It’s always good to have the views of someone who’s so “on the inside”.

    • Michael Says

      Born in the same hospital as you in 1985, and have the same experiences as you. I hate it for all the same reasons and more. Half my family still live in Ras Al Khaimah which is a lot better but same principles at the end of the day. Thanks for sharing. Nice to hear I’m not alone

  • EAT Says

    Hi, My boyfriend and I are thinking about moving to Dubai in one month. We are planning to apply for a tourist visa and start looking for jobs ( that is the way we were told to do it). The thing is, we don´t want to stay very long ( not more that a year ) just go there and try to make/save up some money.
    At the beginning, I was so excited thinking of all the oportunities and the new life coming up, but after having read so many bad things on internet (passports taken, no human rights, people looking over your shoulder… ) I´m so so scared and afraid now!!. Do you think beeing a woman (european , both of us) makes life a bit more tough? Do you think it´s worth it? do employers take advantage of employees? what is life like there ( in a normal day)? I really would like you to give me some advice or guiadance!!! Thanks

    • Mk101 Says

      There is no Human rights in dubai ,Time is money and when you spend your life there thats it in the end either u save money or nothing and in the end money can come and go but not your time.Open your eyes dubai is like a gamble at which they decide the odds and you loose all your liability.

    • Zara Says

      Hi EAT!
      Mk101 pretty much said it all. It’s probably difficult to find work for less than 1 year in Dubai – when a company offers you a job in Dubai, they have to sponsor your residence visa. As they are fairly costly, companies wouldn’t want you to work for them for a short term commitment (1 year is usually the minimum, and it’s often 2 or 3 years). No every company keeps their employee’s passport though. But, for instance, if you work for a given company and your residency is tied to them, it’s not easy to switch jobs if things don’t go well. In some cases, if you stop working with a company, they can also “freeze” your resident rights in the country so you can’t move on to work with someone else. It’s not a very easygoing system.. employees are not very protected as far as I understand. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  • Mohsen Says

    I agree 100% with everything that you’ve mentioned in your article. I was born and raised here in Dubai, however I’m Iranian. I’m 19 years old and i realised that when i turned 17, Dubai is not all that. Now my Dad has been telling me this for years but i never really understood. The older i grow, the more i see that theres nothing here for me or even my family. We’ve made a decision to move next year and will be starting the process soon. Reading this article was very reassuring that although i may miss Dubai, It gave us more stress than happiness. There is no glamorous life here, its all fake. I even pity those locals who drive around jbr with their Lamborghini’s thinking they’ve got it all. Ive looked back at my time here and honestly the most memorable moments of my life have been on holiday in places like the UK, US, Turkey, and even back in Iran. Thank you for posting such an informative and real article. I hope you have a great time travelling the globe and seeing all the extraordinary things this world has to offer, also i highly recommend you visit Iran, its full of history, culture and friendly people.

  • Unknown Says

    Zara i desperately need your lost…and I beleive I’ve lost my soul in Dubai for the past 3 years..studying in a university ..i feel…empty.

    • Zara Says

      How can I help you?
      If you feel like your days aren’t fulfilling, I suggest looking for a hobbie where you get your mind off things, meet new people, et..
      Don’t worry.. life has ups and downs, nothing is forever! ;)

  • Melvin Says

    Hello Zara,

    I totally agree with all the facts you mentioned. I grew up and lived in Dubai for 18 years. I then realized of the racism and discrimination of human rights as I grew up. I finally came to a conclusion that Dubai sucks at its most and I have to move on for a bright future and to raise a family. In short, Dubai uses the most of you and throw you when you’re no longer of use. However, I moved to the US as a student and now I got a job here in Los Angeles. I am happy now that I made up my mind to move from Dubai to California. I have a great job now and I enjoy what I do and I never want to go back to Dubai.

    • Zara Says

      Hi Melvin,
      Thanks for your comment!

      People keep on telling me that Dubai used to “pay me”, so I shouldn’t criticize my source of income. But what most people fail to realize is exactly what you mention: that the moment you are no longer needed, you are thrown away.. quite literally! No visa, no visa for your dependent family who might be elsewhere in the world, etc. You can be born in Dubai, work and live there all your life.. but if you don’t have an UAE passport, you’d still have to leave the moment you retire. You acquire no rights during an entire life. And that’s crazy! Other places give you permanent residency, citizenship even, in way less years. This just shows how the system is created to extract the most out of people during their productive years and then dispose them so that they can be replaced with more productive people. And this is not a silly thing at all.. because a lot of people don’t have anywhere else in the world to call home expect Dubai, yet they know that they will have to live if they retire or they get sick for a long period of time and can no longer work. Many people think individuals like me “squeeze” Dubai out of their money, when it is exactly the opposite: Dubai squeezes people, extracts the most, and then throws them away..

  • Vicks Says

    After writing this piece, you made sure that there is no chance of stepping back there ever again; not even a transit flight I guess. Good for you! That said, Dubai is indeed all of what you stated and then some. I am sure there is a much darker side than what you saw or one has heard. Yet, tens of thousands of folks who got there just to make quick money while minding own business, none of it really matters. There are those who lived there all their lives, quite untouched by all the slush & fake glitter, for whom what matters is the fortune made and saved (speaking of the fortunate ones; there are a few thousands who got trampled too). For a great number of people with average or substandard qualifications and caliber, Dubai gave the opportunity to work, earn, save and shine. There are a huge bunch of folks who thrived and drove Landrovers and Beamers (used lot? Never mind!) only with the force of the Caucasian skin. Even at the hight of its colonial empire, race driven colonialism could never aspire to be as powerful as it is in UAE. But, so what? Not many countries can offer this, with or without the attributes attached to this city. Dark underbelly is not unique to Dubai and there are those who live and thrive in such ecosystems. Good for them. As for those who can’t hold up and don’t want to sell the soul and waste the only life there is, just get the first flight out and never come back.

    • Zara Says

      Hi Vicks,
      You are right. I wouldn’t even transit via Dubai these days.
      And you are right as well when you say that the dark side of Dubai is not unique to this city. Indeed it is not! It’s just a matter of personal choice: some can live with it, and others wouldn’t want to. To each their own!

    • Mark Says

      Yeah mate like your country is so perfect or has a spotless history .. get the F off your high horse

  • Joanna Says

    Hello everyone,
    I am here just few days and I already see it.
    I came here for work obviously, and I am thinking what to do. I am too sensitive for that.

    Please contact me if someone is still here, I would be happy to meet some “unartificial” people…Who cherrish their souls.
    I am European and a designer
    (this is my unofficial email, but for some reason I prefer to keep it this way :)

  • Mickey Says

    It’s a fascinating thing to go through the experience yourself, I’m glad to have come across this blog/site highlighting some of my own theories as to what it is about Dubai/UAE that unsettles me. I moved to Dubai in 2002 and never quite was at ease for one reason or another – yes, the obvious ones like segregation [race, gender, economic, religion], and yes a government that seems quite insistent on policies and development that is extremely shortsighted – but there was just something that kept bothering me about it where I looked for any and all reasons to make an escape.

    I did quite well for myself of my time in UAE, but I think understanding what troubled me was morbidly fascinating in a horrifying kind of way, and it was perhaps a few years later when I sort of put my finger on it. I realized for all it’s riches and perceived wealth, Dubai was actually quite a poor country. It’s dead easy to build a network of half decent roads when you have an agreeable climate with no rain, earthquakes, weather variance etc. And putting up a building is perhaps the least expensive investment a government can make, one Dubai doesn’t even really do what with practically all the buildings in UAE being put up by businesses.

    So when I began to compare infrastructure – bridges, ports, airports, banking, financial structure, parks, land zoning, utilities, telecoms, ability to process and move people and ideas – I sort of understood that Dubai was exactly the wrong place to base a company out of. You can trade there, you can certainly do revenue; but you can’t build anything of substance in the situation. I had an idea, I had a good work ethic and at each turn the city/government just wasn’t able to offer me the sort of platform I needed to work at that idea. So I took it to Taiwan instead, where seemingly it ought to be many fold more complicated what with language and cultural differences, but yes, a decade later I’ve got my idea working, and I’m able to build something.

    I think what troubled me the most was a lack of accountability. Even in some very controlled places like China for example, the government is elected – in principle this means accountability. If someone isn’t doing their job effectively they’re going to find themselves removed in favour of a person that will get it done. Of course this doesn’t always happen and things are a bit more complicated, but in principal it means the person across you is part of a system where they need to perform. In UAE, just as government positions are all inherited so too are the business houses that control all products and services – so it’s a deadly mix of expense and inefficiency.

    After realizing some these things, when I now look at Dubai I’m very thankful I was able to stay true to the purpose why I went there in the first place. To make some income. Always remember that and it might just be a gainful few years of your life. If you lose sight of it somewhere along the way yes, you’ll very likely end up becoming a bit unsuitable for life in the rest of the world.

    Good read, your blog. Happy travelling and adventures.

    • Zara Says

      Hi Mickey,
      Thanks a lot for reading and taking the time to leave an insightful comment about life in Dubai.
      Much appreciated!

  • Santiago Says

    Hello everyone! I found very interesting all the experiences In this blog. One thing I want to ask you is. What do you mean with earn Big money In Dubai?? I mean, after paying daily expensas do you really get good money for saving? For example an engineering job or maybe a banking job? Whats the real number that people are excited about?

  • Jana Says

    Hi Zara!
    I found this post, as well as the previous one extremely relatable and compelling to read considering I was born and raised in Dubai and only recently moved away to Toronto, Canada. To be completely honest, with reference to your comments about kids growing up unappreciative of “hard work” and struggle, I think it all depends on culture and their surroundings. The country itself and its residents’ routines and ways of life, as well as the luxury that is presented before them, as readily available as it is automatically causes kids to be dependent, not out of unappreciation but because everybody around constantly assures them that they will be saved/supported if they slack. This could be out of love, but most of the time it’s a reflection of modern Arab culture, and I personally found that to be true with many parents, as well as mine. You can not expect a child to be independent if they know you’ve got their back. Moving away, I came to be more independent and much more appreciative of my own work as well as others’. This was only because, in the west, the culture is different and much more concerned with concepts of “moving out”, getting jobs at a young age and being independent overall. The dependence found in Dubai could go back to the part-time job opportunities in services and retail, that are reserved for a specific race or ethnicity (your point about discrimination in jobs ads was spot on!). The age limit to get hired is 18 years old, which extends the dependency period. This out of anyone’s hands; this is what its rulers visualize as an ideal place live.
    Thanks for a great read!


    • Zara Says

      Hi Jana,
      Thanks for your comment. I always appreciate when locals and people born and raised in Dubai add their perspective to this thread. It’s important for readers to understand that the problems in Dubai aren’t something that only visitors can see, but that could potentially affect everyone.

  • Ravindra Says

    Zara Thanks for sharing your experiences, and your comments on each post .

    I am IT professional and i got a offer from emirates airline in duabi , i am moving there in December . I have shortlisted this offer ad per my wishes , But after reading few -ve points about dubai its giving me a bad image of the city .

    Am i doing good or not ?

    I am also on good position in india and have a great life here , can i enjoy the same also there with no interfere in others life .

    don’t know what to do kindly give me suggestions..

    I am going there to make my wallet good so i can make my life better in india and i can travel around the world.

    Thanks !

    Have a great day

    • Zara Says

      Hi Ravindra,
      Thanks for trusting me on this, but I don’t think I am the best person to say if you should or shouldn’t go to Dubai. I don’t know your reasons or personal situation, plus I haven’t lived there for over 4 years now. I suggest you get in touch with other people living there right now (perhaps on Expat Forums?!) and ask their opinion.
      Wishing you all the best!

  • Qamy Says

    I came across this post only a couple of hours ago, interestingly it is still going strong since 2012. Although I’ve not lived in the UAE, as a consequence of several short visits extending over a period of 15 or so years, I do have a reasonable grasp of the challenges faced by foreign workers. I am unsure to why you included the piece on ‘4 wives’. To my knowledge this is not a common practice in the UAE. The rule only surfaced over 1000 years ago due to circumstances surrounding war, at a time when women far outnumbered men, it was for the benefit of women. Hence you will find the vast majority of Muslims in the modern era only marry/keep one woman. We need to look at the ruling in its historical context. Anyhow, this is an eloquently described report highlighting the pitfalls. The anger expressed in this report against the UAE system is understandable. Like many others I have been considering spending a few years in the UAE (Although Qatar and Oman are also on my list). It is extremely disheartening to learn about the terrible conditions faced by certain communities in the work-force. This is certainly a factor which will influence my decision. I have however lived in what people would describe as a ‘Free’ country, prejudice in the work-force, although illegal, is very much present albeit subtly. It is a global issue. The only real difference between a nation such as the UAE and a Europe is, in Europe we have processes in place to combat these issues. From what I’ve read the UAE has recently introduced several changes to combat the challenges discussed in this forum, if anyone on here has any experiences of life in Dubai in 2015 that will be extremely helpful. For example, has the UAE improved over the years?.

  • I admire your courage to face these commenters and to write up this experience of yours. There was a girl that recently relocated from Dubai back home and she was reporting similar stories. I believe in freedom of speech and would be gladly sharing your post across my social media accounts as these are exactly the type of posts that are lately getting rarer and rarer. Hats off, it is a great article!

    • Zara Says

      Thanks Katechka!
      There’s never just one side to any place.
      Dubai does a great job at marketing its glitzy and luxurious face, which does indeed exist. But people need to understand that there is definitely more to it than just that. In fact, luxury and misery, privilege and unfairness tend to co-exist in the world. One makes the other possible. And Dubai and the entire UAE couldn’t be an exception!

  • David Says

    The most racist city I have ever visited…

    It wants to be know as a modern city and from the outside it may look like it, but spend a little time there and you will certainly know it isn’t. Depending on the colour of your skin, your nationality, your religion depends how people treat you.

    A very, very sad place.

  • Rochelle Baboolal Says

    Why did I have to see this now? I might be coming to work in Dubai 2016, I’m from South Africa.

  • Sandeep Tiwari Says

    You nailed it Zara. well said !!!

    I am an IT professional in India, worked in Dubai for almost 5 yrs but due to some family problems i need to come back to India. After coming back, i can see the change in myself… i am used to luxury..Althrough i was missing luxury cars, and huge salary in start but somehow i am feeling more secured and happy :)

    As many other IT professionals, i felt shallow deep inside me but money used to compensate that. I must say that Dubai is a great country(for earning money and clear your all loans and bills) but i doubt if i want to stay there again.

    • Zara Says

      Hi Sandeep!
      Thanks for reading.
      As you say: come to Dubai, make some money (save up / pay your dues) and move on. All of that is fine.. I just don’t think it is the healthiest of places to live in the long run.
      I hope you’re doing well in India! :) Cheers!

  • Stanley Says

    mine was a terrible experience.. am a Nigerian. am 20yrs old was brought to Dubai by my uncle’s friend in july 2015 to work for him in his cargo shipping company, his office is in deira while our home is in al nahda2. my passport was taken from me at the airport by my employer, i was made to work both in his office and at home cos i live with him..and he’s got a wife and kids. i woke up very early to clean the whole apartment and then rush to work in deira before 8am everyday without any day off even on so called friday rest day. my stupid employer told me he”s not gonna pay me until I’ve worked and completed the money he spent on air ticket bringing me in dubai which might take up to 6months or a year. i was so depressed and nearly planned to commit suicide when i asked him to send me bk to my country and he refused. his wife from ethopia started treating me like a dog i ran away to al qusais but was later caught by my boss and he brought bk to his apartment and locked me in a single room for two weeks that’s in August this year. i was fed like a slave.. they took my phone so i couldn’t contact my family bk home. so after staying locked in that room for two fucking weeks they brought a return ticket for me. that’s how i left dubai.. there’s nothing as good as one’s freedom at home. Dubai police did nothing when i ran away and called 999.. no regrets just learnt my own lesson not to fuck with any Arabic country again. those retard people don’t give fucks bout their workers welfare or Rights.

  • Stanley Says

    sorry it’s a long story i had to cut it short.. i have many things i wanted to say but let’s just leave it here. my advice to people planing to live in dubai is that they should inquire and ensure that they know the kind of work they”re being offered and always be careful cos any little mistake your ass gonna get fined. take this things into consideration before heading to dubai..
    1) no good food there.. most are frozen i ate alot of Burger and ice cream like i regret leaving africa.. here we eat alot of vegetable fresh from the farm but in dubai? i bet u know vegetables don’t grow in deserts.
    2) i can assure you guys that ZARA was right with everything she has said.. i saw it first hand myself.
    3) in deira its like a Chinatown.. there are prostitues in Dubai don’t mind those islamic crap u might have read saying there’s no prostitution in dubai.
    4) can you survive the heat of the sun? their air is like a hot air from a hair dryer you know how hot such air feels on the face?
    5)everywhere is wired with cctv cameras so never give someone the fuck you hand gesture.
    6)don’t believe everything you see on the tv about Dubai.. if you have a pretty nice job in your country i Will advice you to stick with it then just visit dubai as a tourist and see things then go back cos even if you stay in dubai for 50years oneday u gonna go bk to your country of origin.. never will u be a part of them.
    personally i don’t see anything special there. Am happy in my country got a nice job after leaving that desert and will be in school next…. please guys listen to zara and don’t make a mistake..we live this life once so one should do and go to places that makes them happy. don’t be a slave to your fellow man it’s better to be a lion for a day than to be a sheep all your life serving some retard rich fools. Always be happy. Merry Christmas :D

    • Zara Says

      Hi Stanley,

      I am sorry to read about your experience in Dubai. But very glad that you took the time to share it here.. because you never know who might be reading and could perhaps learn from your bad experience.

      You are very right: people need to be truly careful and inquire as many details as possible before trusting someone with their move to Dubai. Even then, nothing is guaranteed, but at least the employees should know that they are not dealing with dumb people. The more you know your rights, the better off you are likely to be.

      I hope you are doing better know and that you are happy.
      Have a great new year, Stanley! Stay well!

  • ayman Says

    thx for ur article….as if u were talkin about me
    specially about spoiled kids who lived in afaked world of luxury and comfort…to wake up suddenly after dad retired to find my self in homeland with superficial experince can i contact u plz ?

  • Tzar Says

    Hi Zara!
    Wonderful writing skills and really enjoyed the article. I’m so glad you finally get to do what you want and travel the world – its a lovely idea. Anyways, I am right now in Dubai and I completely get your points, nothing of what you said is a lie. Still, when I get out and breathe the air I can feel the sand and its slightly magical. And the view I get from my window is absolutely beautiful (I guess that if you’ve been living for many years here it may be boring but oh well..). I do feel people are quite politce, not only workers but Arabs and Emiratis – at least the ones I’ve met. I don’t think Dubai is such a horrible place. Every country has had its beginnings. The United Kingdom used to have children in their factories who often lost limbs and was harshly led by the Protestant religion. Being such a young city, Dubai is simply aiming to grow and develop in a competitive world (at all costs – and although it is unfair for workers and other groups, can we really blame them for it when the rest of the nations have done exactly the same or worse?)

    PD: I’m European. Not like that would change anything but my nickname sounds Arab and I don’t want you to think I’m horribly biased.

    Best wishes and happy New Year!!!!! Keep up the good work.

    • Venetian Snare Says

      Agree with Tzar on most of the points.

      I’m european too, I relocated to Dubai for a new life with my wife that is originally from GCC, and I got scared from stereotypes and forum discussions about UAE and their problems; above all, I’m a brave defender of human rights and equal opportunities.

      Now that I’m a resident I can confirm most of the bad traits of this society, all of them are impossible to ignore for me, but I can even see a multicultural society that is changing and improving every day, and that a citizen if motivated can contribute to it and try to overcome the big hurdles, among them the huge difference between social classes, and communicate and help everyone in the city promoting solidarity.
      It gave me new hope the recent news about our new elected minister for the Tolerance (although unfortunately this tolerance will not be extended to the political opposition of the Arab Spring).

      I understood that in a city where 85% of the citizens are expats we should be the active protagonists of this society and try to contribute, not just live like tourists for years.

      Also I watch back and only now I can see that a lot of the ugly things I still criticize here are just the mirrored image of what we brought from our lands: country with poor social welfare (e.g. USA), with exploited labor class and no unionization (ex commie countries in Europe, even those part of EU), blind to money launder (UK, Switzerland, but the list is long) and the worst discrimintation of this planet named Visa: why I can get a holiday visa to USA and my polish friend can’t? Why I can visit Doha just booking a flight and my somali cousin cannot even dream about it? Why I can work in UK without even registering there and my ukrainian colleague has lost hope to get that evil visa to enter UK?

      All this is not to justify anything, since a lot stinks here in Dubai and I’m confident it’ll be fixed in the years to come, and still a lot is fishy even in the other countries and I hope for the hunamity that of course will be fixed.

  • Ratna Vajra Says

    There is no humanity.

  • Yousef Says

    Hi Zara great blog you posted all of this information about Dubai is correct although I don’t notice it as much seeing as my family has always been wealthy and ive been born with a silver spoon in my mouth.even after my great-grandparents death in grandfather was actually one of the old shiekh’s dentists and he owned one of the first sandwich shops but anyway we’re moving in about 6 months the states or Australia. Australia more likely cause we’re used to the heat.
    And I hope it will be nicer then Dubai there

  • Rob Says

    I lived there for 18 months, agree with much of this.

    In no particular order…

    In fairness, the country is about 43 years old and any place with its revenue/population ratio might easily go down a questionable road. The question: Does it grow out of something like youthful exuberance, of being the country equivalent of a teen-ager with too much money, too little parental control?

    Credit where it’s due: I’d much rather walk around Dubai at 11 pm than many parts of San Francisco, London, NYC.

    No question there’s plenty of day-to-day exploitation and ugliness, but let’s not be naive and say it’s only Emiratis taking that approach. Countless companies that are owned and operated by expats (with the obligatory Emirati “partner”) are rancid when it comes to their employees.

    More abstractly, I do think there’s something to the thought that the people at the top set the tone. When in Rome…

    Less abstractly, with the money Sheikh Mo spends on horses and spent on Meydan, his horseracing track, it is galling to see a very real need for charities, at best a third-rate approach to helping stray animals, etc. It’s that much worse ’cause there’s a vast measure of propaganda about the glorious leader, the glorious country, the glorious faith. (And at the risk of stating the obvious, there’s 0.0 chance I’d write/post this if I was still in Dubai.)

    On a smaller scale, I was among a small number of Western expats there who found too many Western expats there to be extremely arrogant, greedy, money/status/label-oriented. You ain’t shit if you live in Karama, drive a Mitsubishi Lancer and wear Lee Cooper jeans. It was refreshing and too rare to meet Westerners who didn’t take that approach, didn’t drink a helluva lot.

    I made a few friends, one of whom pointed out that in the UK and Europe, Dubai is very much marketed as being the place for the flashy lifestyle. I’ve also worked in Saudi and Kuwait, where I got a lot less of that ‘tude from other Westerners.

    Maybe this goes without saying, but independent of nationalities, I rarely liked the people who genuinely liked Dubai. I did meet plenty of people from third-world/developing countries who put up with it, with more ugliness than white American me ever saw, because alternatives back home were piss poor.

    To end with the ending, one of my friends there and I left at about the same time. His colleagues took him out for a farewell lunch and one colleague asked him to describe Dubai in one word. He chose “selfish,” asked me to do the same.

    My word? “Unhealthy.”

  • Nafisa Says

    hi zara i loved reading this post of urz about dubai, it is really interesting to know these facts and ur point of view of racism is absolutely correct lets take an example of these people commenting “fuck” to u is also an act of racism , they have become so adapted to the circumstances they are living they dont want to accept the reality!!

  • Renewable Energy is human rights activism Says

    I am not sure why any non-Muslim (especially a woman) would want to live in the Middle East for any extended period of time. Renewable energy needs to replace oil, and soon.

  • Raouf Says

    Hi Zara, I could never describe better than you.

    I lived there for four years as well. I went there in 2012.
    but after a year I started to feel that something is wrong, specially when you see the people who is really suffering there, the cashier in the market or the guy in the gas station and so many others.
    then I started to feel that all the workers and others with low end jobs are really mad and frustrated.
    they were expecting something else but they didn’t find it. I felt that if the system is wrong so sooner or later I will get me as well.

    and what happen with me is that my company at the end of 2015 was facing a bad financial situation, they stopped paying the salaries. we were working for free for like three months.
    so I went to make a complaint at the labor dispute. and after 1 week they sent a warning to the company that they should pay me.
    and lol next day my company terminated my contract. I was like wow that was very effective.
    I went back to the labor dispute and they said then you should file a case.
    so I was looking for a lawyer to handle my case, and the surprise is that the lawyer told me this cases take from 4 to 6 months in the courts.
    and finding a new job is not that simple, plus my visa should be cancelled because I will file a case against the company.
    not to mention the lawyer fees was too high and I don’t have any income for three months.
    then the banks started to harass me to pay my car loan and my CC.
    so I was honest and told them that my job was terminated and I need some time to find another job. and boom they asked me to settle all the debt immediately.

    I told them it doesn’t make sense, how the hell can I afford that?

    so at the end my employer didn’t pay me and he terminated me when I tried to get my right through the law, and I need 6 months to get my money back from him.
    while the banks can’t wait till I find a new job.

    I found that all the luxury and life style which I didn’t have because I was living a normal life was just a bait, we go there to make sure the business will continue, while you can’t live without loans and cc. then when something goes wrong I will be the first one to sacrifice with.
    so I was like fuck it am off this country.

    so thanks Zara for your blog. it really describes a hidden part of Dubai that many others don’t know about it.

  • Indian2020 Says

    If Uae is as bad as you describe in your article then why is the entire western world not doing anything about it? I’m sorry but the west goes on to bomb Syria, Libya, Egypt etc…but why tolerate the uae then if they are treating so many people so unfairly?

    You mention in your article that south Asians are treated the worst and if they get in trouble they have had it? But all the stories I’ve read and researched online are mostly about whites and mainly British or white American getting arrested for sex in public or drug offences etc. Having seen the way white brits and Americans behave when they are let loose, I seriously doubt these people were arrested without strong reasons, and if they were unjustly arrested then their countries would have fought for their freedom big time with the uae govt. Ive never heard of indians being arrested and sent to jail in uae but mostly its whites then how can you say uae is racist to south Asians and tolerates whites?

    Let me also Clarify something else for you, I am indian and my servant in india earns $100 a month, yes he stays for free and gets free food and clothes and is well taken care of but his salary is $100 a month. Now he got a job offer in dubai to make $600 a month,even with all his expenses he will still be able to save $400-500 a month. For these people its all about the money, they suffer a few years but are desperate for a better life and dubai gives them that “opportunity” which no other Country gives. My servant would never get a visa for usa or europe but for dubai his door is open and in 3 years he can save enough to buy a house and a business in his village in india. As for human rights, you speak from a western point of view completely, the entire world is not usa..there are other pros and cons to life elsewhere. Ive lived in new York and california, texas, uk, France, and travelled extensively around the world. Despite all the human rights in the West I see no one happy in those countries at all. And whatever uae is they are not shooting and killing black people like your democratic American police does. There are better human rights in india than in usa. As a gay indian I faced the worst racism from the gay white community in America,and I find most white Americans to be extremely conservative, racist and condescending people. Ive never been to uae nor am I interested in visiting but I think uae is a far better place to live for an indian compared to Usa. In the US one can become a citizen and live there for 50 yrs but they will always be asked “where are you from”…open your eyes and see the nonsense going on in western countries before u speak against dubai.

    • Zara Says

      If you have never been to the UAE, I don’t think you’d be the best person to judge and comment.

    • Rud Says

      Indian2020, you said ” I’m sorry but the west goes on to bomb Syria, Libya, Egypt etc…but why tolerate the uae then if they are treating so many people so unfairly?”

      sorry but it seems like you have no idea about what is going on in the world, what the hell do you really think the west is bombing Syria and Egypt and so many other countries because they treat people so unfairly. i am about to burst out laughing. man please do some researches, i don’t want to turn this thread into another topic and talk about the US and what how they screwed the world. but read before you speak.

  • muhra Says

    WOW! look who’s talking about treating people bad and women rights where are you from again ? Dear at least in UAE man and women get same salary we don’t have homeless the country is safe I can leave my 50k bag and I know that none will stole it, your ungrateful ass forget all the positive sides ? :) And those indians and foreigners people that mentioned if they were not working here they will die in their countries starving at least we gave them jobs they build their houses and educating their kids they are building their futures, and BY THE WAY they are not here for FREE !!! we pay for a housemaid what a police officer get in India. We are not criminals we didn’t started any wars with Innocents citizens to steal their natural resources and acting like we discover an new world and buried cultures and human histories we didn’t bring slave from Africa and killed millions to build a civilization and then suddenly decide to save the humanity and establish something called human rights and talk bullshits. And yes please NEVER COME BACK

    • Bob Says

      so your only measure of safety is you leaving your 50k bag on the table? What about job security? What about taking passports away from maids? You are talking about slaves and how America now talks about human rights, but your country still imports slaves. You just tend to call them maids. They cannot leave if they want to. They cannot find another job if they are not happy with their work environment, they will just have to suffer. They will get a ban. No where in the world you will find such a pathetic fucked up law that people can get banned from working in a few countries just because the employee wasn’t happy with his/her work environment. This is modern slavery. And if you say it is not then you should really check you head. Because you don’t understand it.
      Your whole reasoning of paying hoisemaids more than what a police officer gets in India is as ignorant as you are.
      You live In a country that cost of living compares to most expensive cities in the world but yet people don’t get basic rights. Why the hell is cost of livin so high? Is it the nice weather? Is it shortage of land? Is it democracy? Is it how the expats are treated?
      The word Wasta has no meaning in western world but it means everything in Dubai. It’s all about your screwed up system. That’s the only way to get your work done in Dubai.
      DOnt worry, we will never come back to Dubai, but we just want to make sure people know about the shit that goes on. So people can see the truth

  • Max Says

    muhra, if you really hate western ppl why your country keep bringing them and brag about it. yes in the UAE you ppl are so proud that you have many expats from the west. and when one of them say his openion about you so he is bad now. what a sick mind.

  • Viviane Says

    I am here for 4 months now and I can’t wait to get out of this place. Fake people, fake everything. The heat is unbearable, the life is expensive, I feel depressed here. I don’t want my kid growing in this desert life without knowing what is a real tree. Terrible place to live.

  • Steven Says

    Hi zara.
    Thanks for posting this article,but i’d it rather came too late..wish i saw this before now i wouldn’t hav been going thru this hell….am barely 3months in the uae with a two year work visa….they took my passport frm me on here is very horrible. No freedom,they use people like slaves,no good salaries for ur hard labour,u cant get treatment if u dont hav emirate card and medical reports(of which many managers won’t release to their employees untiill some couple of months)if mistakely you fell sick within this period of time,you ar on ur good apartment,most of the labour camps is far worst than prisons.don’t even talk about the extra always hot weather,the worst of it all,what baffles me more is that they hide their women in hijabs and closet and dey start chasing their fellow men,its obvious they don’t have feelings for women,so they keep them away in the name of religion and they start looking for their fellow’s man ass to fuck…gay is 100 percent happening in this country(especially with Pakistan and Bangladesh immigrants) there is no rights of workers, managers don’t pay their workers on time….OMG!…i wished i neva made such a huge life mistake..wish i can go back to my country..

    • Zara Says

      Hi Steven,
      I’m sorry to read about your negative experience in Dubai. If you don’t like it there, insist on getting your passport back from your employer and try to make a move. Good luck!

  • anonymous Says

    Hi Zara,
    @Steve i’m at the same situation as you bro ,In less than 3 months i came to experience so called “Dubai” that zara has mentioned. I faced most of the issues even my company started showing its true colors after i submitted my resignation . returning to my home country soon.

    • Zara Says

      I am glad you are returning to your home country soon. If things aren’t working out for you in Dubai, that’s the best thing you can do. Good luck with everything!

  • Leading in Life Says

    I am an naturalized US citizen and I worked and lived in Dubai and in Abu Dhabi from 2010-2013. I absolutely loved living there and I found the locals to be gracious and friendly and they always went out of their way to make me feel welcome and accepted. Of course there are many customs and laws that I did not agree with nor understood, but I realize that the world is a big place and that American style Democracy has just as many flaws and challenges they just happen to be of a different variety as those in the Middle East and more specifically the UAE. Although I identify as American, I have lived and worked around the globe and there are few people that annoy me more than people like you that find every reason to criticize the leadership of countries that you have lived and travelled through, while completely ignoring the huge problems that America has created after declaring illegals wars against two sovereign countries and killing over one million innocent civilians in the process. So if you want to make moral judgements and level criticisms against a country, save it for your own government and political leadership.You can find endless reasons to criticize the UAE and their seemingly senseless and draconian laws and customs, but at least they don’t invade sovereign countries and murder innocent men women and children, which you can’t say about your own country. I am glad you left and will never be back, the UAE is much better off without you and your whining complaining and bitchy attitude. What leaves me stumped is why, if it was so awful living here, it took you FOUR YEARS TO LEAVE? Goodbye and good riddance, and I hope you can show a little more respect to countries and their customs and you extend your travels in the future. If you don’t you are going to be in for a long and frustrating journey, that I can guarantee.

    • Zara Says

      Why should I focus on criticizing America? I am Portuguese!
      Even though I have to agree with you that the USA indeed has A LOT of problems and awful foreign policies. At least we are able to agree on that!

    • Surreal Says

      Wow… how extremely rude and assumptive of you! She’s not being bitchy or whining. She’s laying out the facts, which apparently hurt your little feelings.

  • ADHD Says

    Hi zara. I agree with you just not on the religion part 100%. Their Islam is what the world thinks it is, its not and they made it to suit themselves. Thats one thing. The other thing i would like to say is that you are 100% correct. They hide EVERYTHING unless its something that glorifies them. But you failed to mention something that is very important to me and thats their treatment of animals. I absolutely hate them. My family loves it but i have noticed that them travelling more around in other countries has made them realise alot and although they still love dubai they are seemingly travelling less and less to the UAE and more to other places. Which is great news for me because its so easy to get caught up in their whimsical until reality hits you… because of my mind i easily go off into my dreamworld and can imagine wonderful things but i can very quickly notice the reality of things and i have noticed ever since the first time i have been there. 2 places i hate, china and dubai

  • Jack Rodriguez Says

    i’m not religious ,atheist nor muslim , but if you dont like a country and you know its rules are shit and very strict for you , why the hell did you travel there? it is like traveling to somalia even though you know the country is shit.

  • Ray Says

    wow i’m so happy i stumbled upon this blog.

    thanks for sharing. and it was also very interesing to read some of the comments.

    i’ve been offered a decent job that pays quite okay in dubai…. thinking twice.. thrice now before reconsidering the position.. especially since i may have to leave my family back home.. or see if i can afford relocating everyone over.

    all the best :)

  • Marina Pillai Says

    Thank you for sharing! My husband and I are vaguely considering moving to Dubai in a couple of years. He is from India, I’m American, and we met in Mumbai.
    I do have some questions that I hope you can help with if you’re able..
    The thing that I really disliked about having an apartment in Mumbai and other cities in India was the lack of storage space. No closets, no cubbards, no cabinets, all of your belongings just looked “out” to me. Is there storage in Dubai housing?
    Is it affordable? I am middle class, I am 25 and have little savings. I have spoken to a friend of mine who lives there a bit about life in Dubai, but she is wealthy and comes from a wealthy background. Is it realistic for someone in a position like mine to save for a couple years, take all my savings and relocate?
    Is there good healthcare? The next move I make needs to be my last and I am hoping to start a family soon. Healthcare – affordable healthcare – is important.
    I have read several reviews and thoughts about living in Dubai as an expat, but the vibe I got from a lot of them was that it was not something permanent. I am looking for a permanent place to raise a family. Is Dubai a good place to do that? I am not concerned about the religion aspect or about safety or cleanliness. All reports I have had seem to suggest that Dubai is a very forward thinking, low crime, clean city. Having spent a lot of time submersed in other cultures, I am not concerned about that difference either. I am very respectful and I am aware of the need to be respectful of everyone’s viewpoints in a city that combines so many different people from different countries and backgrounds.
    How is the housing? Is it mainly apartments, or is there affordable housing options besides that? Does your work offer housing accommodations, especially to start off?
    I have more, PLEASE HELP!

    • Zara Says

      Hi Marina!

      We haven’t lived in Dubai for over 5 years now. As such, I am afraid my views on housing may not be the most up to date.
      I recommend you contact other Dubai residents in forums such as this. They will probably be in a better position to advice you.

      As for choosing Dubai (or anywhere else in the UAE) as a “permanent” place to live, I would advice against that. The reason behind this is that you can only live in Dubai while you are being sponsored by an employer. If you loose your job, you must leave. And the same applies when you retire. As such, you can spend your working years in the UAE but you can’t make it your “permanent” home, unless you are a citizen.

      All the best!

      • Marina Pillai Says

        Thanks Zara! That seems like such a weird rule to have, especially if you are building a community that you want people to stay in and feel welcome in…
        We are just talking now, and won’t make any decisions until we visit. Either way, it won’t change how we live our lives for the next two years working and saving until he can get his US citizenship. Then I will rest more easy, especially after what happened November 8th.
        Thank you for taking the time to respond. This entire thread has been really insightful and helpful. Hard choices, man.

        I do want to ask you this: was earning enough to be able to move on and do something you’re really passionate about (so it seems to me) worth the four years of soul-suckery?

        • Zara Says

          Yes, it was worth it. Because those years had a lot more going on for me personally, besides work, making money, etc.
          It was also how I started learning more about the wider world! I wouldn’t go back, but I don’t regret going in the first place.
          Good luck, Marina!

    • wollert Says

      Its a permanent place to live if you spend 30 consecutive years in a legal job and learn arabic. And you need to give up your passport for the emirati one. So your call, but its permanent if you want to, your young enough to be able to spend 30years prior to mandatory retirement age (retirement age you get kicked out unless you got nationalised to emirati)

      • Zara Says

        Hi Wollert,
        Thanks for sharing this. I wasn’t aware of the 30 years rule.. I certainly haven’t met anyone who did this!
        In the meantime, I read that the number of years is 7 if you are an Arab citizen of Omani, Qatari or Bahraini origin. Here’s the info source for those who wish to read more about this!

  • Gianvittorio Says

    Dubai is a shopping mall in a sandbox. It is a shithole to the nth degree and I wonder how could you survive thre for so long. I am happier poorer in Europe than anywhere close to anywhere in the gulf. Especially dubai amd the worst shithole of them all KSA

  • Some one paid Zara Says

    Some on paid Zara
    Dont ever belive her
    how cares about you and what happened to you at Dubai
    You are free to go any Time Zara

    what ever is here not truth


    so what if you are going to leave


    Dubai is rising UP and UP

    • Ron Says

      Truth hurts buddy. Lived there for 1 year and when I left I didn’t want a single souvenir reminding me of my time in Dubai.
      Fact is, you are either too blind to see all this or too dumb to understand these things. Maybe you’ve never seen what freedom is. I don’t blame you. You’ve probably never lived in a country where your value is not based on your ethnicity, color of your skin, you accent and hair color. You’ve never lived in a country where everyone is equal.
      I was surprised to learn that nurses need to get permission from their sponsors to get a drivers license. In a way you are the sponsors bit**, if sponsor says dance you dance, if they say jump you say how high?
      In no other country the government agents make people pay fine if One complains of bad economy in Dubai.
      Racism screams in Dubai.
      Dubai is modern Slavery.
      There are rules and then there are wasta’s.
      Different set of rules for locals.
      No tax, a lot of fees.
      Listen, people are not stupid. People understand these things. If one day the expats decide not to work in Dubai, the whole country stops. Locals are very dependent on expats. Expats help make everything run very smooth. They spend all their lives working there and then at the end, their reward is a kick in the butt and ticket back to your country.
      I just wish I had seen this blog before I moved to Dubai. My only source of finding information about Dubai was expatforum. A platform that is highly regulated and censored. Imagine one cannot even say the word VPN.
      Good luck with “YOUR” Dubai.

      • Zara Says

        Hi Ron,

        I agree with you that expatforum kinda sucks!
        More than once we’ve posted stuff over there and got our comments deleted. And they weren’t even harsh (yet true!) things like those stated in this blog post. Something as simple as “Asians DO NOT get the same salaries as Westerners do in Dubai” was enough to have our words deleted. As if these things weren’t true?! Maybe the folks over at expatforum are also scared of “the system”, so they end up auto censoring their own website. Who knows?! But this certainly shows the lack of freedom that exists in the UAE!

  • Teresa Says

    Yesterday i met a good friend who stayed in Dubai for 1.5 years we were catching up and i was eager to know how life in Dubai is…i was shocked to learn that woman are treated as lesser being than men how do you do that..another thing that shocked me is how some job adverts are specifically to pple from certain Nationality..i would rather have me some dignity than stay in a country with no democracy..going through the comments i was confirming all those horror stories..he told a Kenyan a developing Nation and super proud that we are democratic..

  • wollert Says


    I would just like to add that number 10 is wrong. You can stay in dubai until you die. You get a UAE citizenship if you stay 30 years (7 for GCC countries), speak basic arabic, have a job, and been legal all the time.

    Other vise UAE isn’t as bad as you think. I live in saudi as a expat. It could be worse ;)

    Btw I every time I have take a taxi in UAE (10-20 times only) the drivers have been blunt and rude to me (white scandinavian) even though I have been positive and nice to them. So to all the drivers that says they been treated like less worthy people ect, people know your life probably is though, that still doesn’t mean that we dont react on the way you treat us. Atleast for me im extra nice and positive until your not since i know your life is probably more hard than mine.
    All Im getting to is saudi is a more strikt and worst country but I have still received and given more repect to people with though jobs here than UAE, because to their outward attitude to me.

  • Arf Zahia Says

    Hi Zara,
    Thank you so much for this intersting artical.Would you please contact me over my email adress
    As i am so in need of some advice.☺

  • Wasim Malok Says

    Yup you are right Dubai is a temporary place to live. Its not a country where u can plan to live for a longer period. As u dont have rights there. Whtever u earn u spend and always in minus.
    About human rights its totaly disgusting.

  • MAX Says

    Well, I lived there for 4 years as well. and here is what I think about it.
    Dubai is not the same for everyone. some will curse and some will love.
    mostly if you are a foreigner from Europe or the US so you won’t be bothered by anything.
    you will get a salary you won’t dream about in your home country. you will drive cars you only saw it with the richest ppl back from where u came from. you will get a huge villa to live in. you will get special treatment from the government or the police or anyone living there.
    they want ur white skin only to be there. to show the world somehow that they are civilized. and they know that you won’t move ur foot and live in the desert unless there something really worthy.
    simply they don’t need your experience. I have worked with many others from Europe and the US. they don’t know shit about what they are doing. no one cares about interviewing them properly before bringing them in.
    and unless u didn’t do fatal mistake. so u don’t need to worry about ur job. and u don’t need to work hard at all.
    bottomline is, you will enjoy ur life like never before.
    you won’t give a shit about the other poor labor and unfair society and all this crap.

    the second type of people there. the one who is suffering. the one they bring to SERVE the white foreigners and the locals.
    this type of people there are truly suffering. working like hell. no good salaries. no rights. they just need to obey to survive. and I am not over exaggerating. and all of them are staying there hoping that one day they will get a better life like the one they see it with the others.
    but they won’t get anything more than what they have already. they just can’t understand the system doesn’t want them to get a better life. and they are so slowly learning this fact.
    and after many years they found themselves trapped in the debt.
    cuz they can’t survive without loans or CC. so simply they can’t leave.
    and everyone knows what I am talking about. we just love to pretend that nothing is wrong with this world.
    and here is the thing, the white foreigners always get upset when they get terminated from their jobs.
    they start to curse and moan about how creepy dubai is.
    but before that they didn’t give a fuck. cuz the money was pouring.
    so go to dubai if you want. but only if u will make a good living. don’t go for a low salary and expecting that it will get better. it won’t.
    and if you really care about humanity and moral aspects.just don’t go.

    • Zara Says

      Well-said, Max.
      Sad, but true!

      • dan Says

        Hi Zara,

        Reading your article makes me open my eyes more living in dubai, i am living in dubai for almost 3 years now and i really want to go home, nothing is happening. i hate my emirati employer he keeps harassing asian people just to entertain my white colleges, keeps calling them shit names and all. laborers are paid worst than before. AED650/monthly with food and accomodation. but 650AED?! you are living in luxury country, FOR GOD SAKE! what kind of human can do that? i am planning to leave next year because i cannot stand what dubai is offering to unloved employee. ive been to 3 countries, and i dont recommend everyone to go in this country. stay where you are be patient find a nice job leave happy with your family and dont make your life misserable.

        • Just leave. Your salary is lower than their snack, that’s the reason he looks down on you. Emirati will never change as they only know how to breed camel. Avoid coming back at all cost.

    • Katrina Says

      the part about europeans and americans is so true.. i worked for 3 years in a mutibational company before coming to dubai and have also worked for over a year in japan yet because of my passport i was only paid 4000aed per month while my french colleague who was a fresh graduate 5 years younger with no prior experience was paid higher (i do not know her salary) but considering how she lived in a condominium (shared with one friend) and bought her own car after 3 months of working i assume she was earning at least 15000aed a month. Blatant Racism.

  • Olawuni kehinde Says

    Well said, they are good at arresting innocent immigrants and incarcerating them for an offence they didn’t commit thereby resulting in psychological torture for them, why is it so hard for them to differentiate btw foreigners, once there is a case of robbery all foreigners or immigrants are in trouble whether u are innocent or not, my brother was arrested illegaly in that devilish country and incacerated for an offence he didn’t commit for a year and later deported though he is not in a good state of mind, he is still undergoing rehabilitation, Arabs are animals #myopinion

    • Shelley Says

      Your name suggests you are Nigerian? Let’s not get into the atrocities your country has done and how barbaric you all are.

    • Muhammad Hafez Says

      African countries have committed mass murder over the shape of a fucking nose, para-military groups stopping your shit holes from having stability, tribes of canmibals that run around naked like monkeys, and thieves and scammers by the boat loads while your leaders remodel their houses with government money, but yeah arabs are animals right. Tell your brother to stop being a pussy and stay in Nigeria then. That developing nation full of “animals” (more than half immigrants you dipshit) has more wealth and a structure your shithole will never have. Nobody wants to buy a house next to a warlord or a bunch of naked fucks dancing around around fire lmao stay in africa

      • Michael Says

        Classic racist Arab. Uneducated and hateful. As far as I can se most periods agree that the Arab countries aren’t that great. And if the oil hadn’t been found then you would be some of the poorest in the world. You produce nothing, no export at all. And the future is electrical so get ready to be the asshole of the world again.

  • Xam Says

    Like… At first the patriarchy sounds like totes great ! Guys pay for this and for that, but then they don’t do what you say ! They don’t live how you know they should ! Like totes sexist.

  • Shelley Says

    Jeez you idiots have a lot of time debating here and putting down Dubai. It’s not for everyone just like other countries are not for everyone. I’m glad you sad things are not in Dubai anymore. Get a life seriously.

    • Michael Says

      And you must have an extra amount of time to go on here NOT to debate, hahah. You are right, racism isn’t for everyone. Materialism isn’t for everyone. Human rights isn’t for everyone.

  • Mark Says

    The emirates are a relatively new country. Need you be reminded of all the atrocities that went on in England and American history? The fact is no it’s not perfect in Dh ao bit it’s come and long way and it will come a long way more. It’s safe and friendly overall. You guys go ahead and think your countries are so safe with violence, indeed rapes and rampant drinking? To each his or her own. Ya I provides a great life for money and to save if smart. It’s not for everyone though ofcourse. But idiots like Sara who come here take benefit of the place and then trash it online. Loser in all aspects.

    There are issues with prostitution, crime, employees not being paid all over the world. And it’s certain bad employers who don’t pay not the authorities. Even that’s come a long way ahead and improved. It’s a developing nation.

    So do yourself a favor and stay out of here and your retarded opinions as well.

    There will always be your sour and ungrateful people around I suppose.

    • Michael Says

      When reading your comments I am reminded that lieing to ourselves is more engrained in us than lieing to others. And you my friend, are a lier. Deeply and profoundly.
      But it just goes to show why religion arose, because empathy does not come naturally, there are people like mark who only can think of them selfs.

  • Mark Says

    And yeah I’ve lived in the USA and Canada and each place has its pros and cons. Enough of this stupid blog :)

  • elyen Says

    STFU Mark, You dont know nothing about the life of these person probably youre a white guy thats why you got lucky in dubai, but if youre pakistan,indian,Filipino or other nationalities that doesnt have a white skin and youll understand.. but the thing is no! you guys should burn in hell with this people. you think living in a place where racism and discrimination is so high is good? think again. let them say what they want, we have a different experience of living and you just got lucky. so FUCK OFF!

  • MistyFog Says

    Who in his/her right mind would like to live in a Middle Eastern country anyway? They are lagging so behind still living in a barbaric way where human rights seem literally non-existent.

    I’m pretty sure there isn’t even true friendship among themselves for fear of being betrayed in ways that can harm them on a social level.

    The Middle East was once the center of human knowledge and they should be now the leading region in terms of progress and human rights, but Islam has took them back to the 7th century.

    There is no intellectual curiosity, no empathy and compassion for those they have been taught to hate: especially LGB people.

    I see no bright future for that whole region.

  • Michael Says

    Born and raised in Dubai but left 10 years ago never to return. I would never achieve any type of security here, even though my family has contributed to Thier economy for more than 40 years.

    I have so many terrifying story that you will not believe it. But let me mention their treatment of Subcontinental women. Yes the men have it bad, but can you imagine being a woman. I have seen, with my own eyes woman in the female jails of Ras Al Khaimah, with children, that wher born in the jail. The mothers were sent to jail because they were raped. My female friend who I was picking because she was incarcerated for 24 hours because of a unpaid rental car insurance (a mistake) told me that they didn’t even give the children extra food so the mothers had save the rice and fish they were given. There are many people detained in Dubai and other Emirater, many years after their intended release date. This PLACE IS HELL ON EARTH, and they don’t se it. Soon the electrical revolution will be here and we will se these people go back to being the poorest countries in the world, and we will be there to help them I hope. For we must help, for now we cannot for they are arrogant and rich.

  • Michael Says

    So thank you very much for posting. We need more awareness about his place so less people go there especially from India and pakistan as most of them become modern day slaves who are tricked away from their home and families. Got to which is blocked in the the UAE but please have a look. I hope they don’t block your blog but they probably will if they new you opinion.

  • Jeet Says

    I booked to stay in Dubai for three nights before visiting other countries. Now I am glad it is three nights!

    • Yup, me too transit for 3 nights in Dubai! Wish I had never stopover in Dubai but extend my stay in the Netherlands and Germany.

  • I don’t know about all you say.
    I just knew that they had high turnover for them to always be needing staff to work for them.

    Making endless promises. I was just always thinking on why they couldn’t retain their staff.

  • Leopard Money Says

    Dubai is love

    • I can only relate Dubai with ‘all fake’ and sand storm city. Spoke to the foreign workers in Dubai and they were upset with all the lies as they only getting half of salary offered. I’ve also found several ‘healthy’ jelly fishes at Barasti beach and I thought they were ‘exotic pet’ for emirati. Forget Dubai. Just go to Amman or paradise islands in Southeast Asia as Dubai is not worth considering.

  • alahuakbar Says
  • anon Says

    I’d love for you to see how the UAE has changed, it’s changed so much and I think your opinion might have changed as well.

  • Cagatay Says

    I lived in Dubai before and 100% agree about what you say. Those who wants to live in Dubai can go and live.

    Whoever tasted freedom and democracy, will always seek them.

    Now using VPN is illegal, Whatsapp and Skype calls are blocked.
    They want to rob their residents as much as they can.

    Good bye UAE, you will not get my labor anymore.

  • Katrina Says

    I am southeast asian and had worked in Dubai a few years back. It was one of the worst times of my life.

    I quit my overseas job in Japan thinking life in Dubai would be better and easier as English was the main language used to communicate. I was also enticed by the ads as videos i have seen of life in dubai. It looked like a dream.

    When i finally got there i realized that i did get one thing right and that is all the glitz and glammor of life in dubai is just a dream. At least for most of us southeast asians.

    I worked for a well known multinational company in my homecountry (philippines) for 3 years before a japanese company offered me a job in japan so my life though not extravagant was comfortable. I earned enough to pay for my needs as well as wants, earned enough to get an iphone plan, eat at family restaurants from time and to time and save regularly for the future, i also had my own private room in a spacious 3 bedroom apartment shared with my then officemates. So naturally i thought working in dubai would be a step up and i would be able to earn more hence the reason why i quit my job.

    How wrong i was indeed. Like many expats i went to dubai on a tourist visa. And as a filipino i was told that despite my experience the companies i applied to could only offer me a maximum of 4000aed per month. I argued that i “saved” 4000aed a month in japan so the salary they were offering me was low for someone with my experience but all they said was “you have no uae experience”. Having quit my last job, running out of money, and with my visa expiring soon i had no choice but to accept the company’s offer with the company promising that i would get a pay increase in 6 months time.

    Unfortunately the promise to me was not written in paper and so no increases were given, my passport was also taken from me and locked in a vault together with other employees’ passports, i argued that i would like to have my passport back but i was told that keeping of passports was company policy.

    I worked for an indian company. And it was the worst company i ever worked for. I spent the first few months crying inside the women’s toilet because my indian coworkers called me stupid, moron, small brained, pea brained and the like. I was also bullied by my coworkers and even asked to do tasks for them such as photocopy papers and staple documents for them even though we had the same position as part of my “training”.

    By the time i had a hang of the work i started doing more detailed jobs.. i was working as a logistics coordinator handling door to door shipments of household items.

    Our clients were rich expats, mostly white ceos, presidents, managers etc. from america and europe moving in and out of dubai, with them came containers full of their personal effects which we had to clear from customs and deliver to their doorsteps in some of the fanciest places in dubai such as the palm, burj khalifa, jumeirah and other exclusive places.

    Money to them was nothing i guess. Considering how one lamp in their shipment is already worth a year’s salary for me.

    Maybe yoy would think as a logistics coordinator in dubai i would do the same work as my last job in japan but the type of work i was tasked to do in dubai still haunt me to this day. In order to earn more money the company i worked for tasked me to forge documents and create fake customs receipts in order for the company to charge clients excessively high customs inspection charges even though their shipments were not inspected hence “zero fees” the company still charged them money for it and made me create the fake receipts on my computer.

    Everyday i was scared customs will find out but foetunately no expat complained. Maybe because the charges were disguised as government charges.

    Still i felt bad for my clients. Even though i know i only earned a fraction of what they earn in a week or maybe even a day i hated the fact that i had to fool them by asking them to pay additional 1400aed per container.

    I was also afraid that i could get jailed. But whaf can i do. My boss ordered me to create the fake receipts. The company also had my passport. So when i finally finished my contract and got assurance from HR that i can avail of my flight back home i quit my job. Did not use my vacation leaves to find a new job in dubai and flew back home.

    • Zara Says

      Hey Katrina,
      I’m sorry to read about your terrible experience in Dubai. Well-done flying back home! I hope things are working out much better for you now.
      I just wanted to let you know that “making some extra cash” wasn’t an exclusive practice in your company. I worked with several audiovisual production companies in Dubai (as a freelancer and employee) and I saw how often folks in charge would easily add 10 or 15% on top of the official fees. Those paying didn’t care to check what the “normal” rates would be, so it’s an easy way for companies to make a lot of extra money, when we’re already talking about big sums. It’s just the way it goes… money above all else! I guess they’re OK doing these things because, depending who you are, getting in trouble in Dubai is a “subjective” thing.. so folks often go on power trips and think they can do whatever, whenever, and the law can never get to them.

  • Katrina Says

    In summary if your passport is that of a first world country’s then go to dubai. Pay will be great

    • Zara Says

      Actually, it’s not JUST about the passport, Katrina!
      The racism of Dubai / UAE and the job discrimination can get even deeper than that… I’ve known of cases of folks from so-called 1st world countries but who weren’t white, for example, not getting as much pay as their counterparts who were white and had the same passport. It’s really messed up! :S

      • Jamila Hammouda Says

        how come in English countries I have been denied jobs because I wear hijab. Strange to never do they put Arab on application. I think you are uneducated on the facts of other countries America is far worst country I have been in Mexicans work day and night in 100 degree weather picking fruit on farms locked in small trailers at night so they don’t escape. Canada is the same I seen so many bad things in these countries. In Africa Australia I can’t believe the crimes against humanity it is disgusting men having sex with young boys and girls and they get away with it. Truly shameful I think you should reevaluate your own country before you speak about another country it is hypocritical

        • Ryan Says

          Please stop with the google search examples if you haven’t really spent time with the victims of these crimes you mention. People commenting are giving real life experiences while you are just grabbing Google examples of crimes committed in other countries.

          Dubai screening social media comments; specially any negative ones, no matter how petty, is the real description of hypocrisy. No post goes out, no videos of any de-humanizing situations because they get screened & blocked automatically online. Dubai has one of the quickest crime solving capabilities due to the CCTV network that’s all over that the police access to. With high technology capabilities, it’s just a shame that it is being used for restriction of any comment no matter how harmless as long you namedrop Dubai or even just the ‘Dxb’ abbreviation.

        • Kamal Says

          I don’t know about Autralia and U.K, but in the US, you cannot be denied a job because of age, sex, religion and ethnicity. You were denied a job because you didn’t qualify for it, because your resume was not good enough. That’s what people in this side of the world look for, not for wasta’s and people you know in the company. Qualifications matter.
          100 degrees and farmers picking fruit, is not any different from that poor sweeper that is sweeping the sand off the streets in Dubai residence complex the difference is that Dubai has 90% humidity as well. The Mexican that works in farm is most probably illegal worker and they are not LOCKED, I repeat NOT LOCKED in a trailer. Their passport is not taken away either because they simply may not even have passports. They are just sharing a room together. Tell me if that is different from your country. Illegal in Dubai jailed and deported. How are they treated in jails? Could you remind me please???
          And finally you talk about Africa and Australia men having sex with young boys. Again look into your own country. Look at Dubai, sex is more common than you can imagine between adults and children. I remember the days when the maids would get pregnant from the employers sons and she would be jailed because of that and the sons would walk free. The Sharia law is Disgusting, and is made by sick people for their own sick reasons.

          • Sha Says

            Wow, now sharia law has nationality too. I blame those munafiq who are using the word of God to stay in power. I never like the arabs anyways, they are the ones who tarnish the reputation of Islam.

      • DNS Says

        You’ve raised a very good point. The UAE companies knows that some American or British citizens were naturalized. And therefore, they are treated like half castes.

        Happens to many UAE citizens that are naturalized too.

  • Kamal Says

    You have to visit India

  • Sylwia Says

    I agree with you about Dubai. Women going there can be raped, it happens all the time. Then they put them to jail. There is many cases like this. Also women going there to work have their passports stolen and are being sold as items.
    This country lives of tourism now, because the oil is finished. They are trying to attract any business by all means to continue to have some money. For many third world countries this is still a promised land because at least they get some jobs.
    Nevertheless, their government censoring their Internet in order to hide the truth from their citizens says volumes.

    • DNS Says

      It happens more in the US, India and other countries too. But people from these countries still say that the UAE is safer than the US, India, etc

  • Roo Says

    I have to say I have read every comment here with great interest.
    My experiences have been something similar, having moved over to teach in an “international school” (transpired to be fully Emarati and a nightmare teaching placement).
    I took my child, and both I and my 7 year old son were thoroughly depressed, he was bullied for being white, I was worked to the point of exhaustion.
    When I first arrived it was on the promises we’ve all heard; free school place, medical insurance, excellent salary, loads of holidays.
    Nope. I hurt myself and discovered I wasn’t insured by my employer, I was charged extortionate money for my son to attend school and get books etc, food, rent, all of it put me in debt within two months of living there.
    Criminal levels of misinformation before going, being given a credit card before a bank card to entice you into debt, increasing the cost of living to attempt to trap you there, being constantly threatened with termination of employment if you don’t work 80 hours a week. I just can’t believe it’s real. I’ve lived around the world and I have never been made to feel like I’m walking on the edge of upsetting the wrong person, or being reported wrongfully. I wouldn’t wish this kind of treatment on my worst enemy.
    We lasted 6 months, my son cried everyday, and I came home for medical reasons, and never went back.
    Every country has their problems, their history of disrepute. But in this modern world there is no excuse for the treatment of people I have seen and experienced. There should be a warning with any job offered in UAE.
    Not that it should matter, ever, but I am a white Western woman. I was treated appallingly, as someone the Arabs apparently respected and wanted teaching their kids. I can only imagine what others from other cultures have had to endure, the racism there is difficult for me to compute.

    • Zara Says

      Hi Roo,
      Thanks so much for your comment!
      Like you well said, folks are often misinformed about what it may really represent to live and work in Dubai. It’s comments like yours that help us give a more realistic view of life in the Emirates. So thanks again for sharing your experience with us all! I hope you’re much happier now, wherever you are! :)

  • On the brink of leaving this delusional city and serving my notice period when a colleague shared this article. Could not have been summed up better. My sentiments exactly in the past 3 years. Its a fake artificial city with a lot of hypocrisy and no belongingness. Better to escape from this place on earth before you have no soul left.

    Inspired to write an article myself now. :)

    • Zara Says

      Hey Pragya, thanks for your comment! If you didn’t like Dubai, it’s a good thing you made the decision to leave. Wish you all the best from now onwards! And if you do end up writing an article, please share it with all of us. Would love to read your perspectives on the UAE too! :)

      • South African Says

        @Zara my comment below was directed at you. It might erroneously appear as a reply to @Orhan Kaunis

  • Harkeerat Says

    Very well written blog. I must say you have covered a lot of aspects that one certainly deals with during his/her time in Dubai. But you cannot ignore the fact that cities like Dubai give immense opportunity to the people from these south-east Asian countries. Back at home all of us have hardly any growth and the salaries are so low that one can never even think of luxury, but here in Dubai even with decent salaries, you can still have a decent life and some luxury too. At the least your standard of living increases. Not that I am saying that you cant have a good standard of living back at home but yes it surely does increases. Secondly, I would oppose a major point about UAE being a monarch. Well, in my opinion, India, Pakistan or the Philippines and all the other nations from where the expatriates come to Dubai themselves do not have a stable government. The political parties are looting you and deceiving you all the time hence I guess it hardly makes a difference.
    I guess many people with the above comments are right by saying that one is free to leave whenever and regarding your reply about people being held against the wishes, I guess they know it very well about the risks being associated with regards to shifting to Dubai for a low wage. There obviously can be better human rights commision set up here. I am sure the government doesn’t want the same too.

  • Adam Says

    The second part of your article is very superficial.. If the country anyone is from treated their own citizens better than immigrants they too would be all for it. When passing judgement also ask yourself if the country is from is above the same actions if they can do so financially. You would have left Dubai thinking “well nothing new here”. Regarding the allowances which is agains thr Quran is for ppl who don’t believe in the Quran. Simple. As far as they are concerned you have already done wrong just by that so extras means nothing.

  • Sult Says

    Very well constructed and comprehensive. Said no Emirati ever :)

  • Jamila Hammouda Says

    Zara you I enjoyed reading your blog. You made some very uneducated points. It proves how the rest of the world is truly prejudicial against Muslims. I mean in America you have Mormans who have 13 wives and most them are child brides. You don’t talk about Utah. In fact America aloud a Morman to run for president. A religion that advocates child rape and then marriage to this child this man was running for president disgusting. How about in different countries around the world when I go to fill out application my race is not even listed. White, Spanish, Latino, Native American, African American, and more than one race never ever ever Arab or Asian talk about racist. When I go to Christian country I always get do you have hair under your hijab, why do you wear that your husband is horrible for making you wear that. My husband says I wear hijab because I am the most expensive thing he has I am like a pearl and God doesn’t put a pearl on display for the world to see he puts it in a oyster at the bottom of the ocean for only himself. People think I am oppressed but never looks at the nun who wears habibit. These are things we all have to accept when we travel to countries with different religious values. To me in Christian countries men don’t value their women at all. No obligation to them just sex then when they are done they replace her. Do not take care of her doesnt care who touches her who sees her. In fact he puts her on display to show how much of a man he is by bagging the babe. To me it is sad to let men use women like that, and women feel like they have to paint their nails, face, hair, wear sexy clothes to gain attention of men as if women are just entertainment it is quite pathetic I feel sorry for you that your “boyfriend” doesn’t value your heart enough to keep you. You are just temporary and he can just easily walk away. I would hate to just be seen as an object or entertainment for men. As far as killing an unborn baby why would you get pregnant to only kill it, and if you are pregnant why are you engaging in high risk activity that would hurt your baby. Doesn’t the father in your country have a say in his child to. Oh I forget men don’t matter when it comes to children in your country. It’s your body it’s your right. I guess that is how it goes right. Hmmm again pathetic women say to many times that they are single mothers and the dad is dead beat, but you have made your men feel like when it comes to the baby he has no say. I read a story about a man who got a girl pregnant they agreed to have the baby, she got angry and wanted an abortion she threatened him with the life of his child. That man got cancer and the treatment sterilized him so this was the only chance he could have a child. He took her to court in hopes to stop her. He wanted to take care of the baby. She aborted the baby and all hopes of this man passing on his blood. He killed himself over this. I have never in my life seen such cruelty as the western world. Then we are called terrorist that makes me laugh. I think to myself that is the pot calling the kettle black. When Enlish rape 13 year old Muslim girls and post the pictures on the internet then kill her and her who family. Or the Native Americans Standing Rock who are denied basic needs such as water. You Hitler learned how to kill the Jews from the English when he learned from 90 million Native Americans killed. Now the Jews are doing the same to Muslims in Israel funny how the once oppressed is now the oppressed. You look at us as cruel racist people. We are not we forgive you for trying to temp our men. We forgive you for murder, we forgive you for rape, we allow you to come to our country and work make lots of money. You speak about these men who are working on buildings in Dubai did you know most of the men are from Pakistan and were homeless children on drugs and being raped by tourist men. Do you know that homeless children in Pakistan and Afghanistan is real most become addicted to heroin and have to sell their bodies. Most are 7 to 13 years old. They sleep on the streets in Pakistan. They come to Dubai to escape that life. Much like the Mexicans who come to America work in the fields for 1 dollar an hour and 50 cents of that goes to their housing. Which England and most English countries get a share in those profits. They work in 100 degree weather and are crammed into small trailers locked in at night so they can’t escape. No ac no fans and feed scraps on the farm. America also houses the poorest people in the world which are American natives so does Canada. Nobody helps anything about it. In Canada they have a death highway for all the native women who have died. Haper the prime minister let women die right outside of the parliament. He sells their land to make profit and makes them leaves homeless on streets in freezing weather thet freeze to death you didn’t put that in your blog. I am sad for you because you came to a Muslim country and had more freedom and more life then what you give my people in your country or any other race for that fact. You talk about prostitution but America steals girls and sells them as sex slaves same in the Netherlands same in England same in Australia the difference is that these girls are young and will die the sex trade is 10 trillion dollar a year trade which your country has a hold of. Porn, child porn, rape , murder, hate , genocide. Your blog is just another racial profiling that is way more far fetched than the truth in your English countries. Don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house. Trust me your country has done and is doing far worse things than Dubai. I know why we and our countries are hated because Muslims and the riches and ethnics our education puts it in your face that God exists. For You don’t want him to because you want to live without consequence or judgement. Yet you judge us look in the mirror look at your life look at how many men have come and gone and none them treated you as a prize. Go on hate God he doesn’t need you. In fact we need him you are only hurting yourself. I tell you as this from one sister to another it is never to late to accept God and his true religion which is Islam. It is your choice because God this is his gift to us that is choice. In the Quran it tells us to wish fools peace not to argue with them so I am sorry on behalf of Islam for the bad things said to you. With that being said I wish you peace.

    • Josh Says

      I think you’ve made some very strong points, Jamila. It’s important to realize that many of these problems are absolutely not exclusive to Dubai or any other region of the world, for that matter. It does stand to reason, however, that many countries found in the Middle East demonstrate the most powerful theocracies in the world. When you refer to “Christian” nations, it seems to me that you are looking through a theocratic lens – the US is (arguably) NOT a Christian nation. Utah is a microchasm of a religious sect, it is unlike the entirety of the rest of the country in that respect. Where I’m from, we have the largest Muslim population outside of the Middle East – I think you’d be interested to hear the persepectives from that community. They freely practice their culture within the US and are allowed to do so peacefully, and it works (relatively) well within the non-theocratic laws of the US.

      I will say, the persecution of Muslims in the US is a fact. Many think of them as some “boogeyman.” That is not representative of all, however. I have no doubt in my mind, though, that I would rather be a Muslim woman in the US than a white woman in the UAE. I’m not trying to argue, just simply have a conversation and I’m interested to hear your response. These things interest me.

      • Josh Says

        You know, I’d like to rephrase my closing statement. I *wonder* whether one is better off as a Muslim woman in the US or as a non-Muslim woman in the UAE. I would love to hear some outside perspectives, as I am neither one of those things.

        • DNS Says

          You obviously cannot generalized. I’ve heard of muslim and non muslim women that live in the UAE and they find it safer than the fking US.

    • Kamal Says

      A women is worth half a man in Islamic country. Do you still want to argue about it? I had to allow my wife to drive and to work. In what civilized country does the woman have no right to make decisions. Don’t bring me history lessons are they are from years ago. The Arabs invaded and killed many people in Iran and forcefully converted them to Islam. And now that makes the Arabs civilized?

      • sani Says

        Blame the tribal Arabic culture, not the religion. Don’t try to change the history, nobody was forced to convert to islam… unlike what happened in Spain and America (it’s the other way round).

        • Kamal Says

          Dear Sani,
          Please read the history of the spread of Islam in Middle East. It was by force, with weapons, killing people and forcing them to convert to Islam. If you are a Muslim, and you live in a Islamic country, try saying that you want to convert to Christianity and see what happens.
          It’s not tribal my friend. It’s sharia law.

  • Jamila Hammouda Says

    I think if you are going to say bad about one country then point out the bad in other countries.

  • Dave Says

    Hey there. Thanks for this write-up. It was very informative. Was wondering if you may be interested in e-mailing me because I recently visited Dubai and had similar understandings about society over there. I prepared a 1-hr speech that I’d like to share with you, but also was hoping to talk to you about a few sources. Thanks again so much for the blog post. Very good!

  • Josh Says

    I found your blog while doing research into the murder of a family member that took place in the UAE in 2012.

    We’ve long suspected that our family member was murdered and raped in her own home due to her progressive beliefs, even though she was incredibly respectful of and actively participated in the culture in the UAE. She had lived in the UAE for years until she was killed, and it seems like her story has been suppressed either from the inside or from our family over in the US wishing to leave it in the past, even though her murderer was never found… It has definitely left an impression on me as far as cultural relativism is concerned.

    I understand that not everybody in any one culture is responsible for the acts of an individual, but all accounts indicate that her murder was politically and culturally motivated – her being a white, progressive woman who associated herself with men of power as equals and partners (in business and in romance, one can assume) instead of submitting to anybody’s will or divine rule. I’ve found your post incredibly interesting and thought provoking. It does give me some hope & motivation that there are others speaking out about the conditions of this otherwise beautiful and rich place. It’s easy to assume that everything is just as Google and the postcards present it.

  • Ryan Says

    I have reached this article far too late, as the date of this comment suggests.
    Nevertheless, the situations stated are clearly though provoking and most are true. Being a Dubai resident myself and still am for about 6 years now. Working is really all that will keep your mind busy and keeps you from getting into all that negativity. Although the promise of tax free living is already almost gone. I’m pretty sure they would implement income tax this year, 2019. Lately it has just been all about trying to gain as much funds for this Expo event. Ever since Dubai won the bid to host the 2020 Expo, I’ve noticed much more implementations on traffic & road fines. More small businesses closing and a lot more labor cuts due to reasons that go beyond the additional tax that they’ve NOW added to business expenses. It seems that life will really be much harder for even the Western Expats now, until this Expo event is held.

    I do am trying to focus more on what other opportunities lies beyond this country. As you said, there will be nothing here for me unless I have work and a visa. Coming from a third world country, I am well aware that the best opportunities for my people is mostly outside our own. So everyday it’s just about sucking it up and hoping the money being earned & saved will suffice for the next chapter which is definitely not be in this region anymore.

    @Jamila Hammouda
    No need for you to make us aware of the negatives about other countries. Specially USA, WE ALREADY KNOW. It’s already best represented by who is seated at the highest power. Yes, every country has it’s flaws. This article is just pointing out the one that almost never has. Because as the article mentions, Dubai has a sort of cleanup team that does an online sweep of anything that is negative about them. And living here, the situations mentioned in the article are both visible and experienced by us. Your sharing of other cultures’ detailed bad sides and sharing a message of peace at the end is just one example of the strong hypocrisy that is being criticized. Dubai trying to hide theirs is via news block-outs and internet sweeps is just pure disgusting.

    You may not be experiencing any of the mentioned modern slavery because you seem to be a citizen and the most racist action done against you is being rejected a US visa for your yearly trips abroad.. well poor you. I wonder how you treated your housemaids and nannies. Or if your family did treat them humanely at least, I wonder how they were compensated.

  • Bandi Says

    “And BAM! You have been labeled!”

    OMG, I hope you are under 16. Over that, your My little pony state of mind is a bit silly. Yes, you are being labelled like that, anywhere in the world.
    Plus, your arrogance regarding Islamic culture (which I’m not a big friend of BTW) is flabbergasting.

  • DNS Says

    Ah, the alcohol is for the athiests and non-muslims. Besides, you will find alcohol in Turkey and Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan too.

    As for the women that were raped, that’s a tricky one. I do know that in some of the cases, the women actually made false complaints and ruined the lives of three British tourists. And that’s why they were punished.

  • Orhan Kaunis Says

    Everyone has their own opinion depending on their situation and if they are even looking. So feel free to express yourself but in reality if you look at the differing profiles of countries you’ll see they all suck for someone. Freedom…is a qualitative word. Just be happy if no one is trying to kill you. :)

    • South African Says

      My experience of Dubai as a female visitor to Dubai was as such, I was subjected to rudeness by Indians. One female in the Du shop telling me the queue is long she doesnt have time when I enquired about service, another male driver raising his voice at me when I enquired about the Hop On Hop Off bus route stops. So as far as I’m concerned the rude people in Dubai are Indians. The Sharia Law is perfectly fine it is an Islamic Law and it is fair. It has nothing to do with how the law practiced in Dubai. Clearly it is their version of it, so do not claim to know the ins and outs of Sharia based on Dubai Law as it’s practiced. Your partner is Indian and we all know that Indians abhors Islam so from what I can read you are biased in your opinion there. I have not worked in Dubai and have not experienced anything in the workplace but have friends there who are advising further that it is not the Emirates that directly have not been polite to them, but in fact Indian managers. Many of whom are as racist as what you described here and in fact the biggest brown nosers around. I agree that the labourers are treated grossly unfairly and that is modern day slavery as well as with regard to salaries theres a racist divide as well. I have seen labourers in Ibn Battuta Mall though so I don’t know why someone said they banned from the malls. Also, please note that the treatment of females in any society is purely based on the norms and cultures of that society it’s not based on Islam. There are people of all cultures in Dubai. Another person commented about voting fir females, please note Dubai us not a Democracy, no one gets to vote there. Islam was the first to allow women to vote and own property long before Suffragettes existed. Please do not confuse Dubai with Islam or Sharia as written in the Holy Quran. Lastly, anyone who decides to take job offers abroad in any given country should do their research to know what they letting themselves in for BEFORE setting foot there. I find your blog rather biased as your stayed for 4 years and enjoyed the benefits and saw the injustice endured but only spoke out after setting yourself up completely to enable your world travel as I read between the lines. And of course perhaps that your partner is Indian and he’s people was treated badly too. Your white guilt is a factor for sure. I don’t condone your bias of Islam at all but respect your opinion on the humanitarian issues.

      • qwerty Says

        There are plenty of Muslim Indians too, so your comment makes no sense. And how can Indians be the “most” racist when they don’t occupy the highest seats of privilege in the country?

  • Mac Says

    I found the blog very late that I was already here in Dubai and currently experiencing “or should i say suffering” from the reality of Dubai.

  • Love Says

    Dear Zara, why do you use the image of Dubai on your page if you dislike them so much? Is this “clout chasing” This is so wrong of you, sounds as though you are upset because you didn’t get something you wanted from Dubai. So sad for you and everyone saying awful things about Dubai. There is far worst places around the world.

    • Love Says

      *there are far worst places around the world. Dubai is beautiful and so are the people there.

      • Kamal Says

        Dubai might be beautiful but the people are definitely not. Show me one article written about problems of Dubai and the ruling family being published in Dubai or the UAE.
        When a company pays for your lodging and transportation, when they pay for your kids school and visas, you are really not experiencing Dubai. Ask those who really pay for all this things and see how they live.
        You live in a country that Dubai and GCC Arab race (minus Qatar) is better than yours. Locals pays less on their electric bill. They pay less for maid visas and government services. There is no equality in Dubai and yet when they visit other countries they demand to be treated better than others. This is what I experienced in Dubai.
        In my opinion if expats don’t work the country will collapse. If they rely so much on expats then the expats need to be treated better. Just like what is happening in Dubai now. Expats are leaving because of all the stupid fines and fees, now adding taxes. I am just so glad I left. I don’t claim my country is the best. But at least I have never been treated like a second or third class citizen.

  • Love Says
  • Someone who have seen all of those comments Says

    Wellll, I just can’t believe the huge amount of hate, racism, and discrimination in those comments. For starters if my grammar sucks a bit.
    Lets take something in consideration why focus on the terrible things, why publish them? so you can give others a third point of view of something they have never experienced? well that’s totally wrong.
    I have talked to many foreigners in the UAE and indeed there are problems here but you know not everyone is as terrible as the rest, I have also talked to locals whom are Emiratis and Arabs they have also told me the same thing problems issues and more; but they like it here that what matters.
    I loved how I spent 15mins with each person talking about struggles here in the UAE, I always told them remember that this is a globalized culture/religion/tradition that’s why you see different interpretations everywhere, and no matter what till the day we all die those people who are just simply not human will remain but what you can do is ignore them and live happily.
    I told them look what you can do instead when facing troubles here, and truly you will be happier; you choose how to be happy no matter how hard life is in the UAE.
    Even if you had no money, no home, or even nothing anywhere in the world you can change everything if you believe in it, instead of focusing on discrimination focus on why they are like this? why this is happening? ask don’t be afraid, but don’t pose the negativity in it.
    I have been to couple of countries met dozens and trillion of amazing people from different nationalities in this world, each individual had their struggles and yet fought their way to their happiness.
    “Just find the beauty in the wrong”

  • Benn Says

    I was in Dubai in May 2019, transit from Europe to Singapore. Honestly, I wish I had never been to Dubai, should have gone to Amman instead. It’s the worst travel decision I’ve ever made in my whole life. The only memorable thing is the lovely travelers that I met from all over the world. Currently I’m staying in a lovely city with lots of futuristic buildings. For me, Dubai only copycats the concept of all other nice cities but still Dubai looks superficial with no heart in it. I had interacted with some emirati and I found they are arrogant,cold and heartless. Even the foreign workers have become like them. Double standard and cold.

  • Shanazz Says

    I Dont know why are people being mean to Zara shes only sharing here experiance! Dubai like anything other city has its Pros and Cons!

  • Denny Says

    I agree with the blogger. Not talking on religion or economics. But the way workers are treated. With passport, salary held for months, no holidays, no good facilities. They have paid high amount to agents to get there and for jobs. If they had investment that money in their own country they would earn more than here. I also worked in Dubai, have many emarati friends they are good. But the labour policy is modern day slavery. That is why there is labour crunch there as many are not comming. Dubai is not oil dependent but indirectly dependent on the region which is dependent on oul. Latest fall in oil prices and not raising sharply as they did before will level the playing field. They will have to live like rest of the world – by working hard

  • MZ Says

    I think that whatever you have just said must be pretty abusive towards my country. You lived in it drank and ate from our food worked with our people saw more than 9 Million people who either work, studies and even teach. You are just 1 in millions of people who hate my country and I respect it, but let me clear something out UAE is above your head with pride wether you like it or not this is one. Secondly, talking about it in such offense is not acceptable and whatever you want to show the world by your talking or fake facts I have no idea from where you got them is bullshit because in muslim culture the woman has one man to live with and the man has four wives its not just in UAE and if rape is a story of one woman you can conclude everything by 1- the way she is dressed in public 2-the way how she interacts with men 3- if she chose to go by her own will definitely she is going to get laid. In the end I hope my country is cleared from such hater well not even cleared but even banned! Thanks to our sheiks they are doing the impossible to please locals and even non-locals its the happiest country in the world. It is one of the leading countries the best tourism attraction and the safest country in the world. Wether you are with it or against it i don’t care I know my country way better than a person who sat in it for two or three weeks.

    • Kamal Says

      Enough with all your BS. Aren’t you tired of lying to yourself? You really think all those expats are happy? Expats are eating you’re food???? No way, the expats are providing food for you. You locals don’t work.
      The recent stats on home occupancy shows how great of a city you live in and how much people love to live there. Open your eyes.

  • Carpino Says

    Typical western view on UAE! Zara, Portugal shipped over 5 million Africans as solve to Brazil, how about paying victims’ descendants reparations for that Zara? I’m sure poor Angolan kids would appreciate 2% of your income as reparations! Your foreign minister pledged to compensate the Jews who were kicked out of Portugal 600 yrs ago! Sure Africans aren’t less than the Jews!!!
    With respect to UAE, the World Bank has actually advised Western countries to follow the same immigration policy of the UAE and accept large numbers of poor from India/Africa. Why?
    Because the remittance workers in UAE sent home in 2019 was $48B!!! But of course, the “humanitarian” West will never accept mass poor immigrants. Look Norway Massacre.
    99% of Dubai private sector is run by Non-nationals…so by maths most of the racism is actually happen between non nationals themselves.
    UAE is not perfect, nor any other country, but at least it allows the least fortunate to earn a living that isn’t available in their home countries.
    Westerns always bleat on about “democracy” but will always come to gulf countries to earn tax money, they will never go to democratic Ghana or Greece! Why? Because So-called democracy don’t allow them to achieve their dreams so they go to ” evil, Islamic gulf countries”!!!!!!!

  • Maz Says

    I was in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi on my way back from visiting family in Iran in 2016. I wanted to visit Oman too, but ran out of time to do it comfortably, so just settled for more time in the UAE. I thought that Dubai was very different from Abu Dhabi and Sharjah – AD was more business centred, and Sharjah was very quiet, very religious, not a hell of a lot to do, although it did have a very nice waterfront and a very nice mosque and Islamic museum, although I’d seen more than enough mosques and museums already in Iran.

    Dubai was beautiful but in a superficial way, everything very big and bright and man made, most people were foreign, I only met two locals I think. Most of the locals I saw were dressed traditionally although there was no law saying they had to like in Saudi. I was really surprised over 80% of the Emirati women I saw out in the street wore the black abaya AND niqab face veil in 50 degree heat, while I was dying in my Iranian manteau and pants, even though there was no law stating they had to, when women in Tehran were doing pretty much everything possible to get around the compulsory hijab laws there.

  • Jim B Says

    Everything you have listed is valid. Looking at some of the comments from the keyboard warriors, the retardation level is off the charts. I saw the country when it was just dirt to what it is now. The old Sheikh was a good man who respected the workforce but the current regime is immoral and greed driven. His own daughter tried to escape and was beaten and thrown in prison while the wife fled to England for protection. Slavery is rampant and expats from Asian countries live in squalid conditions and pathetically low wages. Abu Dhabi has the oil whilst Dubai has to market tourism.

  • Giuliano Says

    Amazing post, I liked very much. Dubai it is really a scary place, if you look below the shiny surface. I have been there twice, for a couple of days (flight connection) and couldn’t like it one bit. It is probably a place whose destiny is to become a sandy desert again.

Comments are closed for this post.

Subscribe to Backpack ME