Dubai: There are myriad cases where the UAE has helped expats with ordinary jobs pursue extraordinary dreams. While thousands of tourists flock to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates to tick boxes on their wish list, there are thousands of migrant workers in the country living on a shoestring budget, so they can support their families. to realize their hopes and aspirations.
A worker who earns a monthly salary between Dh3,000 and Dh4,000 may not party, eat out or visit exotic places here, but he knows there is still room to live his dream with all he earns. in the UAE. Whether it’s building a dream home, putting their children in a decent school, putting food on the table, or supporting the medical treatment of elderly family members, a breadwinner in the UAE has almost always supported his family back home.
Gulf News spoke to three such people, from three different nationalities, who have lived simple lives in the United Arab Emirates to fund great personal aspirations back home.
Make every dirham count
Meet Filipino expat Hyde Guardo, 42, who lived on a tight budget. During the 18 years of his stay in the United Arab Emirates, he was able to save enough and build substantial assets for himself and his family in the Philippines.
Guardo works as a driver in a company based in Dubai. Originally from the province of Urbino in the Philippines, Guardo arrived in Dubai at the age of 24, in 2004. “I started as a driver with a modest salary of 1,200 Dh. My friends back home, who had heard a lot about Dubai, felt like I was living a glamorous life, partying almost every day, sightseeing and dining out. But the truth is, I was determined to save every penny I could so that I could provide a decent life for my parents back home,” he said.
Guardo’s determination paid off. Over these 18 years, Guardo has slowly but surely built up an asset base in his country. Today, his salary is around Dh3,500, of which he sends back Dh1,500 and sets aside some savings. His wife, Sharon Ascension Guardo, works as an office secretary and receives a salary of Dh6,000. She also contributes assiduously to the family kitty. “We only spend around Dh4,000 here on our food, rent, phone bills, etc. The rest of the amount is set aside for our savings,” Guardo said.
Guardo, who doesn’t believe in owning a credit card, has always been extremely careful with his finances.
“From the beginning, I intended to build a house for my family and buy land for farming. Here we live in a small partitioned room. We have fun, but mostly in places that don’t have high prices. We love going to the beach or the Corniche with friends and swimming with others in our apartment for a weekend get-together. We are keeping ourselves on a very tight budget,” explained Guardo, who also took out a loan of Dh40,000 from a bank to fund his dreams.
“Organize your budget”
The sacrifices made by the Guardos paid off and today they have a four-bedroom house in the Philippines, a four-wheeled pickup truck, three hectares of agricultural land and currently cultivate coconut trees and a modest grocery store. food. “I supported my mother and hope to return to the Philippines with small savings, retire and enjoy the simple pleasures of farming. I still have to repay my loan, which ends in May,” Guardo said, beaming with satisfaction.
He has advice for all his compatriots: “I often see a lot of my friends lose control of their expenses once they start living here. I would advise them not to spend on vacations, expensive clothes and food, because we all have to go home one day. It is best to have long term plans and organize your budget. Saving money now can help us build our assets and retire early and enjoy the fruits of our hard work.
Start as a showroom assistant
Like Guardo, Pakistani expat Raja Amjad Kabir, 40, stuck to simplicity and frugality. An operations manager at a company in Sharjah, Kabir arrived in the UAE in 2005 and started working as a helper in a car showroom for a monthly salary of Dh500.
“I was 23 years old and the youngest son in a family of three boys and three girls. My father was ill and unable to support the family. In these difficult times, I left my village , Bagh, to accept this helping job. The company provided me with accommodation and I was able to save most of my salary and send it to my parents,” says Kabir.
Over the past 17 years, he has gained a lot of experience and has been able to progress to higher paying jobs. “I moved into sales jobs and started earning a salary of Dhs 800, then Dhs 1,200 and continued to work my way up. Today I work as an operations manager, earning a salary between 12,000 and 14,000 Dh.
Even though Kabir moved towards a better life, he never forgot his roots. He gave almost 75% of his salary back home, helped build two houses – one in his village and one in the Pakistani capital Islamabad – helped marry off one of his sisters and helped more than two dozen villagers moving to the UAE in search of better jobs.
“I have helped more than 30 people from my neighborhood to get good jobs here in UAE. I know what poverty is and I volunteer at the Pakistan Association in Dubai, helping the needy with funds for complete their education, find a job and lead a respectable life,” Kabir said.
While helping his family in Pakistan, Kabir himself also settled in the United Arab Emirates. He is now married with three sons. He is particularly grateful to his wife who has always given him her full support. “I work as a volunteer after office hours and sometimes I come home very late at night. My wife shares my ideals of living a simple life and helping others and we continue to rescue and help our family back home to this day.
Sculpt a dream
Nepali expat Mitra Kafle, 40, arrived in Dubai aged 23 in 2005.
“I come from a very poor family in Nawalpur, near Kathmandu in Nepal. Education was a luxury for us and I had to drop out of school after fifth grade to earn a living. We were two brothers and we had to start working early, doing odd jobs until I moved to Mumbai, India to be a cook with a family. I first came to Dubai on a visit visa in 2005 to explore the place,” recalls Kafle, who then returned for a clerical job in January 2006 for a salary of 500 Dh.
Despite his low income, Kafle was determined to support his family and alongside his job he capitalized on his culinary skills, doing odd jobs as a cook and helper and working hard to save money.
“At first I was working late, earning overtime, living in shared accommodation with my friends,” Kafle said. Today, he earns a salary of 3,500 Dh and he sends almost 90% of his income.
“I always keep my expenses below Dh1,000. I have to spend money on metro, buses, phone cards, accommodation and food. Which I manage within Dh1,000. J always sent most of the money home. It really helped my family’s fortunes. We used to live in a mud house in the village. Today we have an eight-room, two-storey concrete house. in Nawalpur.
“We live in a joint family. I also helped my brother set up a small fast food restaurant in our hometown, which he ran for two years, but then he folded and my brother moved to an African country to try his luck,” explained Kafle, who is now the father of two sons – Milan and Ayush.
‘It’s worth it’
“I feel that my sacrifice is worth it because my children study in a very good school and intend to go to university. My eldest son wants to specialize in economics and prepare an MBA. I’m so proud that even though I couldn’t study beyond fifth grade, my children are fulfilling my dreams.”
He added: “They will never face an uncertain future due to poverty. I put money aside in fixed deposits for their university studies. my family and it gives me a feeling of deep satisfaction.”
Kafle visits his family once a year.