I may not have mentioned this before, but the global recession we now all find ourselves mired in like mosquitoes in Sequoia resin has also well and truly engulfed Dubai. And it’s been just as bad as everywhere else, with mass lay-offs and bank credit drying up daily. About three weeks ago, each morning brought new and fresh hell in a market that knows only growth – downturn really is an alien concept. Suspensions of massive building projects by huge developers meant that a significant portion of the construction which characterises Dubai ceased on the spot.
We all know that much of Dubai’s famous wealth has been solely driven by the huge property bubble (one that got so bloated with greed and opportunity that it really was only a matter of time before ‘correction’ struck). Now that bubble has burst, showering the city with deposit default notices and redundancy slips. We hear tales of thousands of cars abandoned at the airport, left by those laid off and forced to go home. The roads are quieter (small mercy) and the malls echo with the ghosts of footfalls past. Community websites such as Dubizzle are flooded with ads for second hand furniture and property rents have fallen (another small mercy).
So, why is it that upon losing their jobs, so many people b*gger off home? The answer is simple. Lose your job, lose your visa. Your bank account is also ‘frozen’ until you can pay off all your debts. You have one month to have your visa transferred to a new employer or that’s your lot. You also potentially lose all the money (12 – 6 months rent) you paid up front for your villa or apartment. There’s no haven in simply hunkering down for the duration and living on noodles and water – you have to do something or get out. It has been so much worse in the property industry here than for any other sector for obvious reasons, but because this city is built on the property boom, its demise has had a knock on effect on everyone else.
I too have felt the effects. Not to go into too much detail but I had a terrible weekend thinking that I too may have fallen victim to the Redundancy Reaper. Somehow I managed to dodge the bullet, due in no small part to the fact that I work for a company that is robust enough to be able to retain staff whose current roles are perhaps not able to be sustained in the present climate. I am very lucky that my varied career over the years has furnished me with skills that I could use in other areas of the business. My necessity was the mother of my reinvention.
Chin up everyone.