Dubai is one of the seven emirates (a political territory ruled by an Arab monarch) that makes up the United Arab Emirates (UAE.) It is the second largest geographic emirate (3885 sq. km) of the union, next to Abu Dhabi (67340 sq. km), but it has the slighter bigger population at 1.469 million.
Dubai has been attracting a lot attention and foreigners with purpose. I remember how my Kenyan friend described with the wonder and pleasure about her short visit to the luxury hotel of Burj Al Arab, which is claimed to be the world's tallest hotel. She couldn't afford to stay at the hotel at its minimum $1,000 per night rate; but she was able to afford the $100.00 fee to take the tour bus that crossed the bridge to get the floating hotel. This is a small glimpse of the awe that Dubai attracts.
Recently, the revenue generated in the country is primarily from trade, warehousing (entrepot), and financial service
s; and surprisingly, not from oil and natural gas. The emirate's economy was built and grew from its abundant natural resources from the ground, but is predicted that Dubai's oil reserves will be depleted in 20 years. Based on this, it's clear to see why the emirate is growing its financial services and IT industry.
By creating free economic zones which are areas that favor businesses to set up at a lower tax rates and 100% foreign ownership, some major IT firms including Oracle, Microsoft, Sun MicroSystems, Nokia, IBM, (and the list goes on) have set up shop in Dubai's information technology park called Dubai Internet City (DIU). Another free economic zone set up that target a specific industry is the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) for securities and bonds. One other significant free economic zone is the Dubai Media City (DMC) where media organizations such as news agencies, publishing, and advertising can do business completely tax free. The government has made it very easy for such companies to operate by setting up the fibre optics infrastructure to facilitate communication and has relaxed visa and operational requirements.
As I do my research on this aspect of Dubai, I am naturally curious to find out what opportunities exist there for me. I think of the difficult hurdles I've had to jump over and continue to face working here in the U.S. being a Canadian citizen. The first thing was to find a company to sponsor my visa. The application process need to show the Customs and Immigration office that I am not a threat to home security, and secondly that I have the education and the experience over other American citizens to do the job. I work for a Japanese company that operates in the US. The corporation itself has other standards to meet and show the US government the right to operate a business here: proper HR practices, providing a safe environment for its workers, operating legally by meeting financial obligations that include paying taxes and submitting financial reports.
The world class view Dubai seems to present is the ease to do business and work there, and the glamour of the companies to be found there. Going back to Burj Al Arab, it has rated itself as the world's only 7-star hotel (thus far, though three more are under construction in other countries.) There's a buzz going on there, and anyone who wants to be in the business and stay in the business needs to be near or in the thick of the buzz.
Dubai is also attracting attention because of violation of human rights for its wrongful treatment of foreign workers who work. I have family and some friends who have complained of the difficulties working in a country with strict Islamic rules. There are curfews that need to be respected. Also, there are differences in the treatment of the different working class. Those deemed to be at the bottom of the rung are especially treated harshly. I've heard personal stories of domestic helpers from the Philippines being subject to rape and mental abuse. This commentary is not specific to Dubai, because this issue is also occurs to other domestic helpers working in other countries such as Japan and Canada.
That considered I regard Dubai still as a place of opportunity, but anyone who is thinking of going there as a foreign worker need to research deeply into what they are walking into. They need to consider the country's culture and have regard and respect for the customs. Are they prepared to adjust to the differences in culture and climate? What personal sacrifices can be given up for what price? Sometimes the pure experience of just being there is enough. A hundred dollars to cross the bridge to Burj Al Arab and experience the regality is maybe enough for some people.