Waning Enchantment

Going back in time, on would recall that the early eighties saw a deluge of expatriates immigrating to Dubai from the sub-continent in a bid to explore greener pastures. With an oil rich economy and booming trade, the earning potential this place offered, lured many a middle class back home to venture out for a tryst with fate in the hope that accumulation of sizable wealth could help alleviate the social status and present an opportunity to enjoy the luxuries in life. Since then, the gulf between these regions has been so closely abridged that Indians along with citizens of neighbouring Asian countries have outnumbered the population of local residents by almost two times. The era of gradual economic upsurge witnessed a frantic need to deploy skilled manpower to meet the growing demands of expansion and modernization programmes thus opening the flood gates for expatriate community to gain a foothold here. Capitalizing on the situation, the expatriates steadily grew from the lowest rungs, casting their shadow in all spheres of activity, to occupy prestigious positions at the highest level. Each immigrant, with a definite objective to accomplish, made progress comfortably during this phase of development in Dubai which eventually became a haven for the middle class.

Ten years down the line, this Emirate was being hailed as the hub of International business. Alongside the emerging identity came the problem of restricting the entry of burgeoning number of foreigners who made a beeline for the metropolis. The bright scenario that many had envisaged was slowly undergoing transformation. Jobs were difficult to come by and even if one succeeded in securing them, it would not have come about without a substantial clout. Most succumbed to the fear of returning empty handed and accepted whatever came their way regardless of meager compensation packages they were offered. Unprofessional approach of employers, irregular salaries & extra working hours were some of the problems they had to contend with. Lurking fear of retrenchment had them bowing to the whims and fancies of their sponsors.

Professional problems apart, the frequently changing govt. regulations kept the expatriates on the toes and could disrupt their smooth sailing at once. This was evidenced in the drive to curtail issues of family visas and stringent formalities imposed for its renewal. To ensure effective implementation of this measure, high salary structure was made a yardstick and one had to fall in the salary bracket of Dhs 6000 to enjoy the privilege of living with family. There were increasing instances of visa renewal applications of resident expatriate families being rejected, which meant a disruption in their established pattern of life. The scuffling of schools, hassle of seeking admissions etc jeopardized the education of children thus proving to be a harrowing experience for parents. Obviously, rigours of displacement from one setup to another, adjusting to the new environs and the prospect of maintaining a long distance relationship with the family becomes difficult to savour. The graph of up-swinging inflationary trend which reflected in exorbitant rents, added to the woes of expatriates. Substantial savings were a thing of the past. Making both ends meet for a single earning member with a family in tow was all the more difficult, compelling them to send their family back home.

Disillusionment began to creep in the psyche of masses who contemplated returning to their roots for subsistence. The factor that really instilled confidence in them to avert the present turmoil was the changing face of Indian economy. An attempt to liberalize economy by the congress regime heralded the entry of giant MNC’s who launched operation on a large scale thus creating a lot of job slots. Though liberalization policy was intended to provide a major thrust to economy and swell foreign reserves, it was welcomed by the masses with a feeling of apprehension. The industrial houses in India anticipated tough competition from International brands and were skeptical about losing sizeable market share they enjoyed. Huge budget allocations for research and development, product promotion through advertising, excellent customer service were thought of as ploys to maintain a niche and be viable in market which had turned totally consumer oriented. Services of professionally qualified people were being sought no matter how astronomical their salary demands were. Abundant scope for career progression was certainly influencing the Indian expatriates to pack their bags for good.

But the risk of chucking up secure jobs and starting from the scratch would play havoc with their nerves and hold them back from taking a plunge. It should be realized that the nagging questions of having access to good livelihood, family life, respectable social status and comfortable lifestyle back home could be answered upon embarking on the journey. Though, a piece of encouragement can be had by recollecting an old adage “Fortune favours the brave”.

 

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