Those racist Dubai building watchmen!

apartmentHave you felt discriminated because of your race or how you look or speak? There are all forms of racism and though I don’t get it everyday, there are instances when it’s totally uncalled for, very annoying and offensive.

Here in Dubai, I ALWAYS experience it when I visit residential buildings looking for an apartment. The watchman (a gun-less security guard taking care of the building and ushering people wanting to see vacant rooms) would always look at me closely and say, “Only families are allowed here, no sharing for Filipinos!”

I am born to Filipino parents so naturally every inch of me look Filipino and I am proud of that. But as most regular workers in Dubai from various nationalities, Filipino expats tend to rent a flat and share it with many others to divide the (ridiculously) high rent. Heck, this scenario is very common anywhere in the world, not just here. But the thing is, some apartments have been rented over the capacity leading to damage to the property, noise, etc. I see where the “no sharing!” comment hurled at me every time and I understand and just say, “No, it’s just us. We’re a family.”

That comment is the most generic I got and never thought there would be worse but yesterday, boom! I walked in to a building near where I work (mind you, it’s not a posh building at all!) and the watchman greeted me with,

“This building is too expensive madame, YOU CANNOT AFFORD IT!”

OMG, I didn’t want to believe what I heard! The kind of comment that make you want to slap people!

As far as I remember, I did not look like a beggar with my clothes my clothes were clean and decent so I don’t know where that judgment came. Insulted and angry, I told him “How can you be so sure?” He just shrugged his shoulders. I left the building immediately, went home and told my husband.  He marched down to that building to see for himself.

The watchman’s attitude was totally different. He asked him “Sir, from where are you?” When my husband said he is from Japan, he was shown the vacant room without any questions but one, “How do you like it, sir?”

Totally different from how I was treated.

I’d like to think it’s either it’s just a bad case of customer service but at the back of my mind, I cringe at the discrimination. God knows how many people share the same bad experience like me here in Dubai!

* For the record, I don’t get such derogatory remarks when I’m with my husband that’s why I really think I’m discriminated – no other reason. After all, my hubs don’t look scary at all.

[Top Photo Credit]

23 thoughts on “Those racist Dubai building watchmen!

  1. Grace, you are one of the most articulate people I know– how come you just walk away and let the watchman get away with what he said??? Better yet, you could write the manager of the building how totally rude and discriminating their watchmen is. Imo untang ge-ignan, Mr. Watchman, my name happens to be Mrs. Fujimaki and from the places I came from, I’ve never been insulted as much as today and etcetera…


    • I feel it’s not worth fighting for – most of these watchmen don’t really speak good English. Hah, but really I need to be more assertive and not just walk away. M does that for me all the time! He may look tame but when he is insulted or mad he really shows it!


  2. I know what you mean. the other day, am talking to a friend and we just thought, it would take a lot to buy some people some brain, or some proper etiquette to say the least.. I hope you come back to that building with your husband. At least he would know whom he’s talking to.


  3. Watchman: How do you like it, sir?
    Husband: VERY MUCH, in fact, I’d like to MOVE IN right away if not for one thing – you tellin’ my wife that she could not afford it!

    Well, I think you could just say, “Sorry???” and I’m positive he’d get it – that you want him to repeat what he just said and if he repeats it, say “Sorry???” again, and he’d understand it’s offensive. I hope.

    If it was me in the situation though, I’d say, “I didn’t know it’s so obvious…” 😛


  4. ?This building is too expensive madame, YOU CANNOT AFFORD IT!?…….. Like he s your financial adviser 😀 These things are everywhere in the world and annoying and offensive. I studied in Melbourne Australia and I got discriminated lot, and finally I got used to it.


  5. Be thankful for those that are overt in their racism. It’s much easier to deal with than the ones who say nothing but treat you just as poorly. With the latter you’re never quite sure.


  6. I think people like that have to be told in no uncertain terms that they are racist. My wife is Chinese and we come across this garbage once in a while. Believe me we give as good as we get if not more!!!! It’s sickening but not unexpected and as someone else said it is better than the behind your back stuff, at least you can cnfront these morons.


  7. It could also be because you are a woman. I went to Greece alone and was trying to tour around alone, and I was disrespected like crazy for being a woman alone, in shorts and a summer top, and sneakers. As soon as Hubby showed up, I changed into a skirt, a blouse, and same espadrilles, and put on a little make-up and voila, the previously rude men were staring at the ground and very polite.


  8. Well, people just tend to believe in stereotypes, and when they hear that certain people of some nationalities are a certain way, they tend to label all those people.

    I too, as a Romanian, have the same problems when going abroad, especially in Italy or Spain, because we have just recently (in 2007) joined the EU and since then many of our criminals (as in burglars, thieves, con artist etc) have emigrated abroad to do their bidding’s there. So after a couple of years all Romanians are labeled as gypsies and criminals, even when we are in vacation (statistics show that Romanian spend the most money on vacation from all the EU people) and it’s pretty annoying.

    So, I am guessing that people will never change, they see other from other perspectives then their own, when that security guard saw you, he didn’t see the businesswoman you are, but just the projections of what he heard about Filipinos.

    It’s a shame that people are still doing this, because it might affect us all at some moments in our lives.


  9. Definitely annoying! I’m not sure how I would react to that but right now, I’m seething with anger. I’m not sure how I’m gonna reply to that kind of comment. I’m just praying that I will not be encountering this kind of discrimination when we follow hubby to Doha.


  10. Tsk.tsk.tsk…Very Dubai indeed, my case I live in a building mostly occupied by white expats one day I went home very late and the new watchman stop me rudely at the lift and ask me where I’m going. Ugh! Though I still need to prove that I live there and the weird thing is he not surprise that I was able to enter the secured main entrance where an access PIN is needed.


  11. I know EXACTLY what you mean. Being ‘brown’, I get a lot of this too. Even if not in words, definitely with the looks. LOL.
    Discrimination and prejudice is everywhere. And here, to everyone as well. Once I was helping a Caucasian lady stock stuff from her pushcart to the counter, because she was carrying a toddler and her husband had somehow gone off to pick up something last minute, and just after she was done, we joked about how husbands dissappear when you need them the most and she thanked me and left… a local woman behind me said “You no touch white people. You no help them! They don’t like it!”



  12. It’s really a shame that people do discrimination among themselves on th basis of color, nationalities, appearance and wealth. It’s a great article to make people aware that discrimination exists today also and we need to fight these evils.


  13. Things like this also happens in Singapore. In real estate ads, sometimes, they put “No Filipinos”, along with another nationality. I’m not sure what’s the reason behind. But some people said it’s because Filipinos are just too noisy…


  14. Hi, I lived in Dubai for 5 years, I am a Filipino, born in the Philippines. I met my loving wife and mother to my son in Dubai, she is Spanish native from Madrid. In Dubai, Although we were together, we came to realize that we were both living different lives (different sets of friends, different places we visit and most of all different points of view about Dubai itself). There were even times when people thought I was her “carlift” and couldn’t believe, or “accept” would be a more accurate description, the fact that I am her husband. Everywhere we get uncomfortable stares from all nationalities including Filipinos. In time we got used to it. And like my wife always says treat them just like a landscape. Anyway, to be fair to Dubai, I think the place itself is NOT Racist. It’s the society that descriminates and not the law nor the government. It’s like a box of different colored marbles all together in one box, but each color are grouped together. People from different nationalities together but each would like to keep their own identity and therefore, instead of mixing with other cultures and learning how they live and do things, they place themselves in a protected bubble surrounded by things they are used to and grew up with. In my opinion this in itself provokes discrimination. Eventually we got sick of these things and decided to move to Spain, where the majority of people treat each other fairly just for the fact that we all belong to the same race, THE HUMAN RACE.


  15. Sorry to hear that Grace but i want to take your attention to a fact. actually security Staff is ordered to say it by them who is appointing the security(in short client). security staff is just performing there duties. as far as your 2nd complain. security staff is wrong. they must not judge the customers based on age race religion. however everyone is not same in this field. there are good guys as well.


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