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Tag Archives: EVP Adel Ahmad Al Redha

Not so glamorous Emirates Airline lifestyle

I’ve read this article on Yahoo Lifestyle yesterday and wondered how far can a pursuit for the profit go? And does doing business these days means only flooding the media with stories which promote your desirable image? Does any CEO or business owner today thinks they can resolve their inner organizational and human resources problems with a few positive image articles on the internet? How long before managers figure out that they cannot beat the internet because it gives an equal power to everyone, including those whose voice managers don’t want to hear?

I am not glad to see that EK managers hadn’t learned much about running the long lasting business. They are still trying to mask the problems with the old “high class lifestyle” public discourse, while their company is falling apart from the inside.

Is it that human conscience is limited with its own mortality so much that managers simply don’t care what will happen after they go, or they simply don’t know how to think in future terms? Maybe combination of both, but, in the meantime, while EK is struggling with its limited managers whose only job is, it seems, to drink Costa coffee in the HQ Costa cafe and to make sure that internet gets its daily dose of “Emirates high class lifestyle” articles, this blog will publish not so glamorous stories about the real lifestyle inside Emirates Airline.

I’ve got this story as a comment on my blog and decided to publish it as an article because I had similar health issues while I was working in EK (without health insurance!). When your employer doesn’t care about your health, I guess you have to take care of yourself and the internet can be a good doctor in the world which recognizes only money for its supreme leader.

costa

 

“Dragna, I have been following your blog for about 2 years. I’ve resigned from EK in 2013.

I left because I felt we as crew were not treated fairly, there was no Support system we could rely on.
2012 I was diagnosed with a begnine tumor in my uterus, and after pleading with my manager to let me come home for the operation (because they wanted me to have the surgery in Dubai, and if so, I’m pretty sure I would have died,since I had complication during it), I was allowed one month for surgery and recovery.

Obviously it took more than one month, and while recovering I was stressing out, because I kept seeing flights being rostered, and, just because I hadn’t sent my doctor’s letter on time (I was at the hospital) stating that I was still in hospital and could not return.
There was no one in charge to contact directly (they were closed for Eid) and instead of being relaxed and advancing on my recovery, I was freaking out.

It was one of the most horrific experiences of my life.

Later I found out that the reason that tumor had developed was due to hormonal inbalance caused by lack of proper nutriton, rest and stress.
In conversation with at least 7 female crew, i found out that they too had had simililar problems, and had to have surgery.

My last year at Emirates I was A380 FG1, more than once I had to eat standing and while the service was going on. I would grab a bite everytime I enter the galley and chew before I took the next item of food to the customer. With On Demand service, breaks to eat are nearly impossible.

When I came back home for good, I had medical tests done and I was diagnosed with severe anaemia, not to mention that I fell into deep depression which I’m still battling with.

The good times of my EK experience were completely obscured by the many bad things that happened. Sad to say it.

Anonymous”

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News from Emirates Illuminati website – An Open Letter to Emirates Senior Management

Why is it that Emirates management increases the pressure and makes more wrong choices and procedures when discontent of their employees continues to rise?

EKIlogocolour

OPEN LETTER TO:

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman
Tim Clark, CEO
Adel Al Redha, EVP & COO
Abdulaziz Al Ali, EVP HR

Within the past few months, through a somewhat jestful approach, we have brought to your attention (and the world’s attention) the ambient turmoil that inhabits most Emirates employees. We have, as well as many others, raised a much necessary red flag, denouncing the poor welfare culture (or lack thereof) in this airline.

While we deplore the insufficient response, we have no doubt that, by now, our message reached the top management, as we can see some encouraging embryos of insight here and there: timid signs of awakening to our cause start to transpire…

Yet, this long-awaited epiphany is still way too diffident. Demotivation and bitterness are rife. Morale has never been so low. Emirates is not only struggling to retain their own people, a novel phenomenon has begun: they are now struggling to attract new people, leading to serious understaffing and potentially grounded aircraft.
People are mentally worn and physically fatigued, adding to the prevalent resentment toward management.

The wonted arrogance of Emirates management is unfathomable, belittling the magnitude of the malaise, and attributing it to

‘a vocal minority’.

Surveys, forums, management reshuffling… all this is not enough. People are expecting from you a much more tangible commitment to a concrete and significant change.

God forbid, for lack of an in-depth systemic reform of the Company culture, a catastrophe is latent and impending.

It is high time you tackle this issue once and for all, in the most unequivocal manner.

We resent to say that we “demand”; rather, we strongly invite you to announce and implement a more radical change in the way employess are treated within our Company. The mere announcements that you now (allegedly) pledge to listen to employee feedback and of an oustanding bonus will not be enough to quiet the deep-seated despondency.

We resent to blackmail; rather, we forebode that failure to comply to our subtle invitation would lead to very undesired consequences.

You can no longer afford to feign ignorance. You have been (very gently) warned. Do not make the mistake to compel us to resort to less subdued actions.

Make Emirates the role model it should be in terms of employee welfare and happiness; the world’s best brand not only loved by its customers, but also by its employees. Improve their quality of life, their pleasure and pride to work for this airline.
And you will enjoy harvesting the fruit of this no longer optional investment in your valuable and talented (yet too undermined) people.

Be seeing you,

Original news on:

http://www.emirates-illuminati.org/an-open-letter-to-emirates-senior-management/


“How would you fix the Emirates mess?”

I guess that truth about Emirates Airline management has finally found its way to public. Wall Street Journal has already published an article on Emirates cabin crew’s dissatisfaction and in their newest article (“Pilot Workload at Emirates Under Question”) we can read about Emirates pilots’ discontent.

I will repeat how my intention was never to attract public attention, otherwise I would contact journalists from all over the world. My intention was to get my end of service money and an apology for being maltreated and harassed. I didn’t get any of these things so far. On the contrary, Emirates Airline managers fired a close friend of mine recently just for commenting my blog post on Facebook.

Nevertheless, as I would love to see my former colleagues more satisfied and happy with their work in Emirates Airline (which is one of the reasons why I have published so many of their stories here), in this occasion I am republishing very constructive and informative article from Update from Tom blog written by former Emirates high level manager Mr. Tom Burgess. You can visit his blog here, and this is part of his newest blog post on profit share, bonuses and constructive ways to improve current challenging situation in Emirates Airline.

Let’s assume, even just for a moment, that somebody from EK management will put their arrogance aside and read this smart article carefully and with understanding.

Many threats can be turned into opportunities.  And Emirates certainly has a threat to deal with.  The situation has been deteriorating for some time, but a tipping point was perhaps reached last year.  The company motto, promulgated by the HR department, was simple – ‘If you don’t like it, you can leave’.  In EG-IT this was supplemented by Patrick Naef’s approach of ‘If I don’t like you, you will leave’.  Now people will choose to leave if nothing positive is done.

But this major threat could not come at a better time.  The price of oil hasfallen dramatically, averaging around a third below its expected level throughout the second half of the financial year.  Fuel costs represent about 40% of the airline’s operating costs so there should be an additional profit of around 6% this year.  Even without the reduction in fuel price, Emirates would be making a healthy profit, so this is truly a large windfall.  As always, the discussion about what to do with the profits will already be underway and I hope there is a strong focus on the problem of staff morale.

Of course, an obvious answer is to be appropriately generous with the bonus but, though I said earlier that opportunities often evolve from threats, it can also work the other way.  A single and large pay out to staff will be very well received but, unless people genuinely believe that things are going to change, a healthy bonus could be the perfect trigger for people to move on.

Annual bonuses can also be divisive.  There is a general acceptance that those with larger salaries will receive more cash, but I feel uncomfortable with a system that increases the percentages of bonuses for senior managers.  The argument that the more senior someone is, the more impact s/he can have on the company’s performance, does not wash with me.  That has already been accounted for in the shape of a larger salary and an already larger bonus, without the need for multipliers.

Low salaries (for some) and high staff turnover has been a strategy that has worked well for Emirates.  One cannot fault the basic principle – if you pay enough below what a job is worth and the cost of recruiting does not fill that gap, you appear to make a saving.  But this approach reflects narrow thinking.  I worked for a company that paid in the upper decile of industry salary ranges and were thus able to recruit and retain the best staff.  The efficiencies realised just from having the best staff more than paid for that policy.  There were many other benefits too, including a much slimmer HR department which could focus on the important task of developing careers to the advantage of individuals and the company, rather than wasting time on endless hiring and firing activities.

You generally get what you pay for in life.  This certainly applies to staff and ‘pay’ is not limited to money, it embraces the whole spectrum of how people are treated.  There are clearly people who ‘want something for nothing’ in this world but there is no need to recruit those, or retain them if their attitudes change.  The vast majority of people want to work hard and make valuable contributions and this mindset is significantly strengthened if they are treated with respect and honestly, and paid what they are worth in the market.

Companies, even large ones, should not treat staff as temporary, unless there is a clear business requirement (e.g. one off event) to do so.  If a company treats its staff as permanent and applies a long term approach to the relationship, that attitude will be returned.  Obviously, many of us may not join an organisation with the intention to stay until retirement, but why shouldn’t a company make that assumption when it recruits people?  What could be the downside?

So what is Emirates going to do?  Attention on a number of issues is long overdue and, with a healthy amount of money to play with, there is now the perfect opportunity to act decisively.

– The staff survey needs to published, messages acknowledged and specific actions identified (and delivered, of course).

– The Group is in need of a major restructure.  A lot of the operational areas may work well, but support functions should be pulled together and thoroughly reviewed.  Opportunities for large efficiency gains will appear endless if a detailed review of activities, including a rigorous assessment of the value they add (or don’t add!), is carried out.  I hear of claims from staff such as “I have nothing to do”, “What I do is pointless”, etc.

– HR itself needs more than a review.  It has to position itself to do the job it was always supposed to do, but rarely did.  At least it appears the problem has been acknowledged, but real action is required.

– Management levels need a careful examination.  There cannot be many people in the group (other than those occupying pointless management jobs) who believe that Emirates does not have too many layers of management.  With fewer levels, reporting will have to be more focused and accountability increased.  I have witnessed an entire team of VP’s decline to make any decisions at a meeting, saying “we will have to wait for the boss” (who had been delayed).  And I know of another VP who is described by his team members as “the world’s most efficient email forwarding system”.  I could go on.

– I should not have to write this – treat everyone (all levels, up or down the organisation) with respect and maintain dignity, openness and honesty in all proceedings.

– Phase out the profit share scheme, but make an immediate andunambiguous commitment to increase the salaries of those in real need.  By ‘in real need’ I mean those who are adding genuine value to the day to day operation and to the bottom line of the business.  This will require a newremuneration policy, one that is much more considered than the ‘as little as we can get away with’ approach used to date and one that has staffretention as its cornerstone.  This ongoing commitment will be easily funded by the savings generated by the restructures described above.  The potential for savings should not be underestimated.

I suspect that this update may irritate a few people, but I am only trying to help.  I did write to Sir Tim Clark a while ago offering a few suggestions, even help, but he did not respond.  I gave up writing to Gary Chapman a long time ago because it seems he has no interest in my views.  I do not understand why.  If anyone has a problem with me doing this, I would ask them – “how would you fix the mess?”.

Posted by Tom Burgess at 00:08


Do not fly Emirates

In the light of recent suicide of one Emirates cabin crew, I got several emails about depression of cabin crew (I will publish some articles on that in the next few days). It seems to be much bigger problem than any of us suspect, though. And I believe that it is only a tip of an iceberg as I heard stories about alcohol and drug abuse among Emirates staff. This article is dedicated to all of the EK’s staff struggling to live and work in abnormal and stressful EK working conditions.  

I had several turning points in my life. My work with Emirates was the latest one. Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful that I have worked there and gained much experience and many friends. The only healthy way to survive this life is to see its best lights and to fight against its dark ones.

Of course, you can always, as most of the people, choose not to see the darkness and not to act on it, because you want to keep your job, or because you want to have a secure life, or because you want to be rich and powerful, or because you want to believe that you are better than others, or because you have to feed your family, or because you are afraid that darkness will overwhelm you.

World problems are not your problems specifically, but we are all part of those problems. We all have our part of responsibility in it. And if you are not happy, the only person to blame is you. Reality is yours to create it. There are no other people. Others have their own realities. Your reality is yours to make something of it and whatever you decide it to be, it will be. For sure. Just decide.

By my experience, the most usual thing that people do is denying their part of the responsibility. Emirates Airline managers made their realities by lying to themselves, They are not evil people per se.  At least most of them. They are not bad people per se. They just choose not to see. And when they do see, they are lying to themselves that they can’t do anything about it, that problem is bigger than them, that “This is Dubai” and that their hands are tied by local culture and laws. But they forget that they choose to be where they are and that those chosen positions influence thousands of lives. I guess the most painless way to live a life is by living it in oblivion and selfishness. Mr. Mattar, Senior Vice President of Airport Services, probably still thinks that his staff is happy and that they can have lunch for 2AED. Now he can go home and have a lunch for 200AED. But this is how lie works.

So, EK managers have no problem to post photos on Facebook from their expensive vacations, and photos of their houses and cars/motorcycles while people they are responsible for suffer. And don’t be naive – most of the people who are abused now if given a chance to become managers, would continue the circle of abuse. They convinced themselves that they earned it. Of course, people who don’t have feelings while abusing others are not happy or satisfied people. But system is made that way. Either adjust, keep quiet, keep your head down and believe in it (and be a manager or be abused for someone else’s profit – it’s all the same at the end of the day), either be an outcast, “crazy”, unfit and outlaw.

Of course, it takes a lot of strength to be an outcast. It often hurts. Mob will always attack you because you are the reminder how bad they are.

Why would, then, someone choose to be an outcast? By my opinion it’s the only way to a personal happiness. And I don’t think that an outcast has to live outside the system. I believe that outcast can be a manager in Emirates Airline. The common thing for all outcasts is that they don’t lie to themselves and they do the best they can to make their immediate surrounding a better place.

For example, an outcast EK manager would help a depressed staff to get a proper care. An outcast EK manager would smile to their staff, would appreciate their work with small rewards or even with words of appreciation only, they don’t cost. But EK managers don’t do this even if it doesn’t cost. Why? Because then they have to be honest to themselves and to admit their responsibility for someone else’s misery. They have to be aware of themselves and the consequences of their acts. And it hurts to know that you are the part of something that hurts so many people. And it hurts even more if you admit to yourself that you do it just for the money and personal gain. It hurts less to just tell yourself this is the way it goes and to go with the flow – convince yourself that you are better than others and be an arrogant bastard.

But you know what? Everything is forgiveable because you stop being a hypocrite the moment you admit that you are one.

For example, many people asked me if I would take the money for stop writing this blog. My answer was always: depends on my mood. If I am angry – no. If I am in need for money – yes. But you know what? I am not perfect. I am not a saint. But I would always tell you that I took the money to stop writing the blog and that my fight is over and that I did what was in my power and in my hands as a mortal human being to do. I think it’s honest. You can think that I betrayed my and your ideals and fight, but I TOLD YOU THE TRUTH. What’s more important: I TOLD THE TRUTH TO MYSELF. And I am not a hypocrite then. I did my best which is much more than someone else did (don’t worry, nobody offered me money. EK cherishes money more than their image. This was just an example based on my possible moral struggle).

So, no one has to change fundamentally and to be a better person in order for world to be a better place. You don’t have to change. You just have to tell the truth. To yourself first and then to others. It would be a good start. There is nothing wrong in admitting that you are wrong. You may even continue to do wrong, but don’t pretend it’s not wrong or that you are doing good. Have the courage to be an honest bastard, at least. And at least sometimes if not always.

Finally, we came to the title of this post. My fight “against” Emirates is not a fight against Emirates. “Do not fly Emirates” doesn’t mean a call to not fly with Emirates. Emirates is just a metaphor for lies and deceptions. And the whole world is established on deceptions and oblivion. EK managers are often comforting themselves with this fact: “it’s like this in every company”. I’ve heard this phrase so many times and whenever someone said it to me I knew that I am looking at the person who is walking the easier path of self deception. And I don’t mind people lying to themselves, I mind that they hurt others. This is why I started this blog and this is why I am still writing it. Do not fly Emirates means – do not lie to yourselves.

I got over my termination even before I was terminated. Maybe even before I was employed in EK. But Emirates Airline is the first company which gave me the profound knowledge on how every false system works. Most companies hide behind human and labour rights. Some of those rights are implemented and working, some of them are violated or even not implemented. But at least these rights stand as an ideal principle which is to be pursued by human rights activists and courts of law.

Emirates Airline (as a bunch of other companies all around the world as well) is the most outrageous lie I ever encountered to. And the most inhumane one. And besides the effects on my health (thyroid gland malfunction and disturbed peace of my mind) it left a deeper trail. It left a vision of future whose contributor I don’t want to be. I am taking my part of the responsibility in building that selfish, oblivious and inhumane future. I am not frustrated (at least not that much), I am not a rebel, I am not an anarchist (primarily). I just took the responsibility for my part of reality. And now when I am a hypocrite (and we all sometimes are) I can say it out loud and by doing so – clear myself of any further hypocrisy. That is what inner peace and happiness are for me.

Fight your fights people. Don’t be afraid to stand for yourselves. Love and respect yourselves. Forgive yourselves. Take the responsibility for your lives. Enjoy the ride. No one said it’s an easy ride, but if you overcome some difficult bumps I can promise that it won’t get less bumpy, but you will start to overcome the obstacles much easier. And then you will have the time to look around you and enjoy the ride.

Writing this blog is part of my ride.


Emirates cabin crew fired for complaining to GCAA, ACAA and IATA?

According to this e-mail from one senior staff, Emirates Airline cabin crew complained to GCAA, ACAA and IATA on illegal layover length, fatigue and breach of safety rules and they got fired due to “inappropriate behavour”. Apparently, according to Emirates Airline managers, it’s inappropriate to contact international regulative organizations responsible for aviation safety and rules to complain on violation of those rules.

This is the e-mail that I have got today:

Hi Dragana,

i hope you are doing alright..
it took me sometime to find the courage to send this email to be honest im a bit afraid of loosing my job.
anyhow, here are some new stuff been going
i have xxx godforsaken flight to JFK during the snow storm where they had only 10 hours layover…. 4 of the crew xxx decided to make an official complaint to GCAA, ACAA & IATA , the e-mail was successfully sent , read and replied to… however, apparently emirates has it own people everywhere, somehow Mr. Terry received a copy of that e-mail ????

and as you know these days he is operating ” OPEN FORUM ” same one as Anoma did which led to your termination …. needless to say  its not going well as only about 400 crews decided to show up which made him say its an “isolated problem” ( because half of them are on leave and the other are operating, which he didn’t think of ) the point is he had a meeting with those 4 crews who sent the e-mail to GCAA and guess what happened after a long lecture about work ethics and bragging about how emirates is feeding them and their families , it ended up by 2 of them being terminated due ” inappropriate behavior “   how ironic… apparently this is the reason to termainte staff when you don’t have a reason, as for the other 2 crews since they didn’t use their company email to send the complaint they were blessed by a final written warning and … wait for it ….. leave balance forfeiting … swap freeze …. no access to company e-mail… WOOOW now the manager will send them email which they cant ready and they will be terminated ….
disregarding how unethical and a severe breach of company/uae labor laws which emirates is anyhow above it, they had to accept it because of their financial problems and their knowledge that they can’t get a better or same level job back in their countries … how sad…but true..
as we speak there is another open forum is going and i’ll send you the outcome when i get it.

as for EKAS
after Mr. walter promised to take EKAS to the new level… i can’t deny he did some improvements (THANKS TO YOU AND YOUR BLOG)
Mr. walter had several meetings with MASs and ASMs on how to make EKAS better ( for the company )
and the out come was ( as per some ASMs whom im close friend with )
1- all staff with more than 60 hours sickness are not entitled for grade.

2- verbal warning to be issued for staff who don’t comply with uniform and image standards…

3- sick reporting is now 5 hours before duty, any call after that will not be documented and staff will be marked absent ( great now i have to wake up 6 hours before my duty to see if im fit to work or not)

4- no more LOCAL LEAVES authorized by ASMs or MASs.
and yet more to come… im just waiting for walter to publish them ( i doubt it )

and hey .. do you remember that glorious day for emirates on 19 Dec where they had a record of passengers numbers ?
here is something for you about it, Mr. walter was so generous and gave all staffs who were working that day 25AED meal voucher BUT.. no time for the staff to eat, i was doing morning shift that day, and i witnessed staff who had 8-9 tasks on 10 hours shift, with a maximum break of 15 minutes ( time between gate to another) and when someone called RTC they bluntly informed the staff there is no break in your contract …..
staff were asked to perform all kind of tasks including remote departures/arrivals SAT and boarding.. and due to lack of staff that day many flights were without enough staff and some without Gate supervisors and i know some of the staff who had no GS on their flights got warnings because the flight was delayed….
how would you expect a staff who only got trained for boarding (BAMBAM) in 2 weeks to do a job that requires intensive system experience..
i can’t recall allllllll the incidents that happened with details , but you have my word, your blog will be my tongue.
eveyone (who is not a hypocrite or an ass kisser) is very proud of you and what you have achieved for us.

thank you for everything.

Email from a senior Emirates staff

Email from a senior Emirates staff


Update: this blog is completely banned in UAE

Good morning dear readers and supporters.

This blog is (should I say – finally?) totally banned in UAE (even for users of Etisalat as well).

This action of EK managers speaks for itself. One former employee’s blog is banned in the whole UAE. It means that EK managers are really upset with its content and instead trying to deal with the problem they have in an open and fair way, they’ve decided to resolve their problems with oppression and rule of fear again. No surprises there if I may add.

It all began with one bullying manager Anoma Manuel and her bosses who kept harassing me and all the ground staff for one year and a half. If Ms.Anoma Manuel was capable to resolve the issues she had in her department in other ways than molesting her staff, this blog would have never existed.

Article about the real reasons why Emirates Airline plans to employ 11.000 new staff has became viral and attracted more than 20.000 visitors. I guess that was one of the reasons why EK managers decided to block the website. Instead of attracting new staff with respectful treatment and good benefits, they have decided to continue to lie their potential new joiners.

Of course, this blockage will change nothing. Those who have read it so far will continue to read it via VPN, proxy websites or when they travel abroad. EK managers only blocked the website to hide the truth from themselves and maybe from His Highness the chairman of Emirates Airline but they can never hide it from their employees who feel the injustices on their skin.

You can read all the news on the donotflyemirates.wordpress.com (clear the cookies from your browser first and then type this address manually in your browser) and on the Facebook page (where I will be posting whole articles from now on). If the alternative website gets banned, I will open another website and repost every news from this web address, which remains the primary web address for “Truth about Emirates Airline Management” blog. This certainly does not match EK managers’ intentions as nobody here would like hundreds of websites about mistreatment of Emirates employees online.

I will just add that this banning violates the laws of UAE.

I appeal to Emirates Airline managers to try and solve the problems in a mature, fair and responsible way, by communicating with their former and present employees. Open and respectful discussion was always my goal here. 

Kind regards to everyone and never give up.

Dragana


When people become wolves always hungry for more money

I’ve said this couple of times here and these “The National” articles just confirm it: you give love at the places you receive love; same goes for the hate. Place that lures people to come and live in it just in order to drain money from them, can’t expect bright future for itself. This kind of place loses all the humanity, money becomes God and people turn into wolves, biting each other for a coin (just like EK managers do).

I am afraid that the whole planet turned into one greedy place where people forgot that they are all connected and that happiness of others means happiness of oneself. But there are places in the world where love still exists and where money didn’t kill all the nobleness. You decide if you live in one of those places and whether you are contributing to its sustainability or to its devastation (like many EK managers do). You decide if you are truly happy or miserable as hell although you have (bloody) money and all that goes with it.

Articles:

UAE expats priced out of their lives

http://www.thenational.ae/business/personal-finance/uae-expats-priced-out-of-their-lives

I‘ve recently come across a growing number of people who are packing up and leaving the UAE, others who are seriously contemplating it, and many who are being vocal about their pain, but are staying put – for now.

Add to this snippets of conversation overheard about this when I’m out and about.

The problem is the cost of living.

Expats who come on bumper packages and have the increasingly pricey outgoings of rent and education covered – wholly or partially – won’t be affected by this. It’s long-term residents and entrepreneurs who are being hurt the most, especially those with children of school-going age.

And these two groups of people are exactly what any city needs; they choose to live here and want to stay, but cannot afford to.

In the past fortnight alone I have discovered that a handful of neighbours will be leaving the country – one family in particular embodies what’s happening: they’ve been in Dubai for a couple of decades – with one short-term hiatus in the late 1990s owing to family circumstances – and they’re torn. Both the husband and wife have built up businesses in the UAE, their three children are very settled and love their lives, and they genuinely believe that Dubai has a lot more to offer than what’s available back home. But the double whammy of rising fees along with not being paid on time by clients has hit them hard.

This is a family that saves but can’t any more – and they’ve been dipping into savings over many months to survive. Their life lurches from one term’s school fees to the next. And it just doesn’t work for them.

But they’re struggling with the decision to leave.

Everything’s in place for them to go come the end of the year: they have a yard sale in a week and grandparents are over to spend one last Christmas in the UAE sun.

But it’s tough. It’s not just that they’re saying goodbye to special friends, the only life their children know and their hopes for their futures here, it’s also that this time it’s different: going means never coming back, and that’s affecting them. A lot. They can’t come back because they would never be able to afford entry level prices to live in the UAE once again. Finding a home, for example, would be a major barrier once they give up their current lease. Their place is going for Dh280,000 these days, but they pay Dh150,000 – and they only moved in a year- and-a-half ago.

Their basic outgoings add up to Dh600,000 a year. That’s school fees for three, rent, utilities and other basic, red-tape and living costs. They could do a lot with that money back home – where schooling is free.

I’m told that when confronted with a dilemma and not being able to work out what’s best for them, this couple tosses a coin and goes with fate.

I don’t believe they’ll be doing that this time round. It just doesn’t make sense to stay.

A view echoed by friends who got together earlier in the month to celebrate someone’s 40 years in the UAE. Many of these long-term expat residents are upping sticks too. Most don’t have children at school, but they also find that the UAE isn’t what it used to be.

Of course there will always be people who bemoan a past lost for ever. Cities change – but this isn’t just about a fast-paced metropolis evolving, it’s also very much about how difficult it is to live in a place where you cannot save, and where you have no benevolent government that will pay your way when you go back home. So the cash-flow crunch dictates that people either live irresponsibly – not providing for the future – or make very emotional decisions and go elsewhere.

But some – I call them “expat prisoners” – can’t leave. These are people who have superb track records in their fields and cannot get jobs back home because of their age. The big question is: if everything they earn goes out to pay for their lives and if there’s no hope of them saving, or of creating additional streams of income, is it worth staying?

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Some are trying to figure out how to do both: stay and stem the money haemorrhage. I met someone last weekend who is contemplating moving to Ras Al Khaimah or somewhere in between there and Dubai, purely to get out of the rent hell that is her Dubai at the moment. Not only has her rent been put up by 20 per cent (take it or leave it), but she has just been told that no money will be put into the property as it seems it’s been earmarked for demolition.

Scores of people want to stay and contribute to the place they call home. When people like this can’t afford to to make ends meet, we lose more than just another expat.

Nima Abu Wardeh is the founder of the personal finance website cashy.me. You can reach her at nima@cashy.me

Why making ends meet simply isn’t enough for UAE expats struggling with rising costs

http://www.thenational.ae/business/personal-finance/why-making-ends-meet-simply-isnt-enough-for-uae-expats-struggling-with-rising-costs

We came in 2000 with promise and hope

We’re leaving this month being strung by a rope

The rope of high costs, bad mortgage and loans

No cash in the bank, down to the bare bones

This ode is for all, who like us are in stress

Don’t leave it too late to get out of this mess

Before you read on, you might well just say

“It’s all your own fault, why on earth did you stay?!”

After 14 long years of blood, sweat and tears

We couldn’t just run leaving all the arrears

If you’re struggling and stressing over bills you must pay

Just wrap it all up and call it a day

This is part of a poem I was sent in response to my column last week “Expats priced out of their lives”. It nails it for every single person who reached out to me having read the piece.

The message is clear: people are in pain. Today I’d like to share what I’ve learnt from the responses. Two things come up throughout:

• People are having difficulty “hanging on”, as someone put in a tweet to me.

• The serious and ongoing ramifications as a result of the financial crisis and the resulting economic dive in 2009 are now coming to a head.

This is a smattering of what was shared:

“We felt like wallets with legs.”

“My descriptor for ‘the only way to be in the UAE’ is to get a safe and secure salary, guaranteed housing, schools paid for, just do the job you are paid for and, sadly, don’t invest any of yourself into the country.”

Seeing as those who wrote in were mainly entrepreneurs or professionals who don’t get their outgoings covered, this makes sense.

The things is, we’re dealing with an ongoing conflict of wanting to invest – at the very least emotionally – in where we’re living, while “knowing” that one day we will leave.

This is how one astute person put it:

“After you’ve spent more than five years here, you stop thinking of it as a working holiday-in-the-sun and start thinking about it as a long-term proposition.”

This is the story of another entrepreneur who certainly thought of the UAE as a long-term home, albeit temporary: since 2008 he has ploughed more than Dh10 million of profit back into the UAE. Two decades on he’s throwing in the towel.

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“My original long-range plan was to live in Dubai until 2025, I’m just leaving 11 years early. Why? I can’t pinpoint any one thing that pushed me over the edge on one fell swoop. It has been about three years coming, more and more discontent, more and more discussing the value of being in Dubai vis-a-vis somewhere else.

“In April of this year our sponsor told us he was going to change the terms of our agreement and wanted more money. Then our trade licence that we have had with no problems since 2007 kept getting rejected over and over again, then our warehouse landlord raised our rents by nearly 100 per cent. At that point my CFO got fed up and recommended we close shop since our profit margins had dropped to very low single digits. I held out for four more months but I’m now done. It just isn’t worth it any more. “

The key for success is sustainability. The ability of people to sustain themselves, and if they can then by default a city can sustain itself too.

Not too long ago, people suffered the immense stress of having to leave their lives behind either because they were pushed – downsizing, going bust and so on – or because they ran. No one wants that to happen again.

Back to the entrepreneur: “Would I do it all over again? Yes. What would I do different?”

Well, suffice to say that he would have prioritised his ‘forever home’ as a place to invest in.

He ends with this:

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not leaving Dubai destitute but I sure am a lot less well off then if I had left in 2008-09 or even if I hadn’t started any of my companies. Sad but I’ll pick myself up and do it all over again.”

This person isn’t living hand-to-mouth – but many here are. There is a clear call for help from a growing number of expats, along with a desire to make things work for them so that they can continue to live and work in the UAE.

While you think over your own situation, I will leave you with another line from the poem:

We defended this town saying how great it will be

At the end of the day, it’s just “Me, Me, Me, Me.”

Nima Abu Wardeh is the founder of the personal finance website cashy.me. You can reach her at nima@cashy.me