An effective way to send expats home

I don’t have the official statistics of Dubai’s population with me nor have I spent hours outside counting the people and the cars on the road but one thing I observed these past few months, there are less people in the streets, in the bus stops and traffic has eased like magic. All good, all good. There’s no more hour-long wait for the bus to take me home (in case I take the bus), no more elbowing against men and women in a fight to get on a public transport. Even the taxis are aplenty now.

Before, I needed to go out at 7:15 a.m. to travel less than 10 kilometers to my workplace or else I will be late for my work at 8:30 a.m. Now, I am able to go out of the house at 8:00 a.m and still arrive on time.

Some of the causes of this ease are/could be:

  • increase of public transport – new buses and bus routes have been implemented. I don’t know if the taxis have increased but it seems like it.
  • completion of several road works – when the construction of the Dubai Metro started, several arterial roads have been closed resulting to very bad traffic. Now that the completion of Dubai Metro is nearing, the roads have opened (including Ittihad intersection that services thousands of cars travelling from the neighboring Emirate of Sharjah to Dubai).
  • School is out – It’s summer vacation so this could be one of the reasons why there’s not much traffic in the roads. Stay at home parents needn’t drive their children to school in the morning, thus lessening the morning rush. School buses are out of the roads now too.
  • Population decline – my biggest hunch. I look around and see a lot of “To Let” in apartment buildings. At night, there are a lot of building with “black holes” – rooms that are dim because they are unoccupied. No doubt the recession has sent a lot of expat families and workers home. Dubai doesn’t report a lot about the loss of jobs here but several of my neighbors have moved back to their home country due to job loss and we hear the stories everyday about it. The effect of recession may not be as huge as that in other countries but certainly the effect is there.

The global recession lessened the population of Dubai. Again, I DON’T have the statistics, just how I feel while driving in the streets and hearing people’s stories around. Next up? The UAE government is set to revise the salary norm for family visas soon.

In the news,

Expatriate residents who want to bring their families into the country should now earn a minimum monthly salary of Dh10,000 (US$2,725) and provide their family with independent accommodation.

It all makes sense that an expat who wishes to bring his/her family here should earn enough to support his/her family members, pay for health costs, school fees, live a comfortable life, etc. Independent accommodation? Yes, of course! Every family should have their own private space.

But sadly, that is not the case here in Dubai. So many salaries are way below the new minimum and living in cramped “sharing accommodation” because of the unreasonably high rents. I know TWO families (couple + children) living in ONE room, partitioned by a thin piece of cloth curtain because each family could not afford to spend all their salary for house rent.

It is sad that rather than thinking of how to make life sustainable for families, the government is doing the opposite.

The Immigration official continued,

Previously the minimum salary requirement was Dh3,000 (US$817), because this was acceptable under previous conditions. The amount was later raised to Dh4,000 (US$1,090) and then Dh6,000 (US$1,635) after rapid development and economic growth.

So what about families who have brought their families here under the previous minimum salary requirement? Will they be able to stay? or forced to move out?

When this law is officially ammended, some families will be packing up and Dubai’s roads will be empty.

Dubai Marina

And what will happen to the completed posh residential buildings, ambitiously claiming it will house hundreds of thousands of new residents?

The full script of this news and announcement can be found in Gulf news.


  1. Wanna see a lot of “For Rent”, “For Sale” signs? Drive through the streets of Cleveland. Or any other US city for that matter. It’s bad all over. However, hearing of that in DUBAI? That’s amazing.



  2. It’s so sad that the economy has his such a large global market. The unemployment here in Florida is between 10 and 14%. But I’m glad that you don’t have to leave Pristine so early in the morning to go to work, you get to spend a little more time with that lovely lady!!

    Lorie Shewbridges last blog post..Tarte Cosmetics Giveaway



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