A few weeks back I had lunch with (a really) nice Indian lady and her colleagues – all of whom are new to the UAE. We sat down, placed orders and got talking about the firm, business opportunities in the UAE, generic topics on life in in the UAE, in NY, our backgrounds etc all.
Most seem surprised to meet someone who'd lived in the UAE for a while – primarily ‘cause they feel most souls in the UAE are "new" i.e. arrived in the past 6 years or less?
Anyhoooo – the Indian lady seemed quite inquisitive about life in the UAE (her family & she moved to the UAE 3 years ago). She asked me about life in the good old days – ways of living, growing up back then, the structure of the city, the country – lifestyle etc all. Our chat went on for a while, before it took a turn along these lines....
Mrs B: do you like living in Dubai
rosh: yup I like living in the uae
Mrs B: do you think you’ll move back to Dubai from NY?
rosh: hmmmm, I don’t know, and if I'd answer that? 'cause there’ll probably be a lot of rhetoric attached to my response (smiling)
Mrs B: say everything being equal - would you consider moving back?
rosh: yes of course?
Mrs B: but isn’t NY better in almost all aspect?
rosh: I wouldn’t say that – each place has it’s pluses & cons.
Mrs B: well I am from Bombay and I think Bombay is so much better than Dubai
rosh: really? Why? what makes you say that?
Mrs B: well – you see we’ve got everything there. We have all kinds of food, festivals, the city is so much developed, it's real – the ambience, the party life and just so many things to do and live for.
rosh: well I’ve been there just once in ’86 when I was just 10. It was just for a day and a half.
Mrs B: oh you’ve been to Bombay just once and that too 21 years ago?
Mrs B: so you don’t know what you are missing you see (smiling ear to ear totally surprised)
rosh: perhaps, but then I think we’ve got the best of everything right here in the UAE.
Mrs B: oh no – you don’t know the other side. It’s so much better there. The quality of life, cost of living – the food – everything is so much better. The city has a soul of it’s own. People value life, and you are so free – there is nothing to worry about, you’ve got your own home, things are so cheap…blah blah blah
rosh: (now getting a bit cheesed off) – and …… you don’t think that's not here in the UAE?
Mrs B: oh it’s not that - it’s just that there is much more in Bombay and life is better in every aspect. You should visit and you shall see what you’ve missed out. There is much Dubai has to catch up with Bombay – the city’s soul is unparallel….blah blah blah blah ….kids have so much fun, they grow up to be more mature and aware of life and peoples, they can actually play "cricket" (?)…..plus it’s my home …..blah blah blah ….
rosh: (now a bit more cheesed off) – pse don’t mind me asking you this – given all your sentiment I think Bombay is quite a lovely place…
Mrs B: oh yes it is…
rosh: ……and it holds the best of everything you are looking for?
Mrs B: oh yes it does – "Bombay runs thru my body" (or veins or something along those lines)
rosh: ……pse don’t mind this innocent question? so…. how come you are in the UAE with your family? I mean surely you couldn’t be happier in any place than Bombay and listening to your sentiments, it seems like such a happening place and I’d love to visit sometime.
Mrs B: (a bit embarrassed) – well..... I was just being honest about the city you know, we are all sentimental about our homes.
rosh:…….sure apologies I understand. Pardon my question if it was direct or seemed rude, that was not my intention. I am curious to know why people would continue to live and work in the UAE if there is a better home – that’s all?
Mrs B: well it’s a good place to make monies and after a while we shall go back.
rosh: oh oki? that’s good to know.....
Mrs B: I must apologize if my comments seemed insensitive. I didn’t realize you being raised in Dubai feel for the city, the way I feel for Bombay
rosh: ….awww not a problem, not a problem (smiling). If I may - it’s UAE, not Dubai and I was raised in Sharjah..... there is so much more to UAE than Dubai (smiling)
After work, on my way to the hotel – I sort of felt a bit bad on my chat with Mrs B – ‘cause I didn’t think she had bad intentions. However I realized this wasn’t the first time I’ve heard similar comments/sentiments...it got me thinking, and even a bit angry.
Angry 'cause there are so many new people moving into the UAE and whilst the vast majorities do respect the place – they are here for the short term, for short term gains i.e. sole intention of monetary benefits – nothing wrong with that. But (like the local population) it does put 2nd/3rd generation expat kids who’ve choose to be in the UAE, despite better career options elsewhere in a pickle?
Most return to the UAE because they feel this is their home - the place they grew up and would prefer to be here no matter what. Hence (say everything being equal i.e. in terms of education/experience) - these souls have such little help or zero preference whilst in the job market compared to hundreds of newer expats who moved into the UAE yesterday?
Point being - I wish there is a process wherein primarily the "local" pool is exhausted prior to hiring externally – because we did have many more who appreciate the place and work not for just the livelihood or short term - but also because they sincerely care for the place, want the best for it - and help better the nation's progress in the long haul.