It’s the third time in as many weeks that I’ve heard of couples returning from Dubai after only a few weeks with dreams and hopes shattered.
Picture the scene, Declan’s career as a civil engineer has slowed to a slugs pace and Derbhall’s once glittering Marketing position is now no more than a three-day-a-week office gofer position, complete with no benefits and no prospects. Ends are meeting but the visa balance is creeping up each month and a family holiday looks just about as likely as a knock on the door from an extra terrestrial. Declan and Derbhall, decide that they have heard enough talk about life in Dubai; they want to taste the dolce vita for themselves.
Lots of their friends had left Ireland for the Middle East and so far the feedback is all good. They hear about inflated salaries, five star hotels and pool parties and compared to the ever reducing wages, overpriced social scene and seemingly endless rain at home, Dubai seems a no-brainer. They make plans to ditch their thinning employment opportunities in Ireland and make for budding breaks in the buoyant economic society of the United Arab Emirates.
The going away parties were emotional as they say goodbye to family and friends, they may not see then again for many years, things would be different in Ireland when they returned, they rent out their house for 50% of the monthly mortgage repayment and they sell both cars.
Having visited Dubai a few months prior and secured employment for Declan, (Derbhall fancies a bit of time off), they pack up lock, stock and two small children at board the plane for Dubai, the land that promises a 300% salary increase on their Irish salaries and the chance to own a Range Rover.
It’s only on arrival in Dubai that they realise that the temporary accommodation provided by the company is a hotel room, roughly 10 times smaller than their detached 3 bed in Douglas. In order to rent a house for a year, twelve month rent must be paid in advance, as does the 10% fee charged by the housing agent. This is standard across the UAE and can be a crippling cost as not only are salaries inflated, so too is the cost of rental property.
The education system proves another stumbling block as not only are they all full to capacity, there is an application fee, a registration fee, an enrolment fee and hefty term tuition fees to be paid each month. Having paid to apply for four schools, Derbhall is slow to apply for more, as she begins to get the feeling that it’s a money racket.
So three weeks into Dubai, no house and no school and nowhere to make a pot of pasta with stir in sauce, the unsuspecting couple find themselves dining out night after night, without a car they end up getting taxis hither and tither, racking up more and more expense in their first weeks in Dubai. Finally they realise that the only way to secure a house for the coming year is to get a loan or put the rent on Visa as a stopgap option. The housing allowance that seemed to be comfortable when they read the contract in Ireland, now seemed insufficient when reading it in the glitzy Dubai surroundings. So even if they had the years rent in cash, there would stiff be a deficit at the end of the year. In short, the inflated salary and standard housing allowance would see Declan and Derbhall having less disposable income in Dubai that they did in Douglas!
Mortified, Declan and Derbhall return home shame-faced, broke and looking for their old jobs back. Walking the walk of shame through the town, as yet another person says, “are you back already?”
Note: The initial investment required when moving to Dubai is often not outlined clearly enough and many couples find themselves unable to secure housing and schools due to cash flow issues and while on paper, over a five year period the move might work out profitable, the reality can be different as many enter into a never ending circle of debt and find themselves playing catch-up.