Dubai has been my home for the past nine years (and 6 months to be exact), although things are not 100 % smooth sailing, as surely there were numerous bumps and blocks along the road. I can’t imagine what my life would have been if I didn’t go to that job interview in Dusit Makati (Philippines) nine year ago.
I arrived in Dubai just a month after my college graduation. Fresh out of getting a degree in architecture, I never thought that Dubai will be the place were I will start practicing what I’ve learned ( or I thought I learned) from my five-year college training. Uncorrupted and full of dreams, I landed in the sandpit one summer evening and my life changed forever.
Surely there are a lot of things to rant about (aside from the summer heat) but this blog is not about that. More than the tears and sleepless nights are things that I am grateful for. Dubai became my promise land and a stepping stone for greater things in the future. What I am today, I owe it all (well most of it) to this wonderful city.
As an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), every country we are into is an opportunity for us to earn money in order to provide a better life for our families back in our mother land. This was my main motivation every time I hop on a plane leaving the Philippines. But apart from that, I know that most of you will agree with me that being in a foreign land presents numerous opportunities that sometimes we are guilty of neglecting.
As I shout THANK YOU to the country that has been my home and welcomed me with open arms, I thought of enumerating other opportunities that we can find as a Filipino living as an expat in the UAE.
Opportunities to Find Your Dream Job
Filipinos are known to be everywhere. Every corner of the world you can see Filipinos as part of a city’s building blocks. Dubai is no exemption to this.
To be honest, nine years back ( 2006), I didn’t know what and where Dubai is. I asked around and during that time, not a lot of people from the Philippines even heard of this city. The only thing I got (from those who knew about Dubai) is that it is a city that is currently being developed to be a modern and central hub of the Middle East (and the location of the only 7-star rated hotel in the world).
As a new member of the labor force, I was very excited to have my first architectural training in a city known for its thriving architecture scene.
Fast forward, today, you can see expats everywhere (yheap a lot of Filipinos). This is a testament that Dubai provides a lot of work opportunities. Part of building this city is also building its labor force. Although the system is not (yet) perfect (there will be a future blog about this ^^), it is still a great blessing to a lot of Filipinos aspiring to do well in their professional careers. I can say that this country gave me opportunities to work for royal families and luxury brands such as Cartier and Carolina Herrera. I also met a lot of Filipinos who excelled and became great leaders in their own field.
If you are new here in Dubai or dreaming of going here and look for a job, start sending your CVs out. Let them know you exist. Dubai is still in need of talented people waiting to be discovered. You might get your dream job soon.
Opportunities to Express One’s Faith
One of the things I packed during my first trip to Dubai was my Bible. I remember my mom packing and wrapping it securely because she was concerned that as a country in the Middle East, being a Christian will not be tolerated.
When I arrived in Dubai, I was shocked that a Christian church exists here. In fact there is a compound devoted to all Christian churches. I can say that being here in Dubai even helped with my spiritual growth.
Aside from Christianity, you can also see other religious practices being welcomed in the UAE. With a diverse set of people in one city, it is given that not everyone will have the same religious beliefs. I love how this nation embraces that and integrated it as part of the country’s culture and heritage.
A few weeks back, the Hindu Festival of Lights was highly celebrated around the city. Buildings were lit with beautiful pixie-lights and fire works were everywhere. Although I am not a Hindu, I celebrated along with my Indian friends….and I loved it! A few weeks from now, we Christians will be celebrating Christmas, and right now, you can already see Christmas trees and ornaments in all public establishments.
I love that aside from Ramadan, we can also experience other religious celebrations without any prejudices. Respect is the key, if you respect other’s beliefs and stop judging people based on their differences, people will end up respecting yours.
Opportunities to Discover Your Passion
I arrived in Dubai thinking of just working as an architect, sit inside my cubicle and stare at my computer. After nine year, I will be sad if this is still what I am doing.
Dubai is a melting pot, not only for cultures and nationalities but also to a lot of opportunities that will fuel your passion. Dubai opened doors for me to become a blogger, an artist and also an entrepreneur. Of course like everywhere in the world, you’ll have to look for it and grab it by the neck. No one can reach his or her full potentials by sleeping.
Dubai is a new modern city and in need of brilliant minds. Some ideas can be old in your (home) country but in Dubai everything is just starting —and thriving. My mantra with my craft (www.suratjournals.com) is to create something and make a market for it. I must say, it works!
The beauty about this city is that people from all over the world gather here and for sure somewhere out there, someone is looking for your talent. What are you passionate about? Create a passion journal (you can buy one from www.suratjournals.com hahaha) I guess your first start-up is now knocking at your door (check it out!).
Opportunities To Travel The World
Being at the center of the world (literally) is an opportunity to become the world’s central hub. This was the vision of Dubai’s leaders that is now a reality.
Almost everyone in Dubai got bitten by the travel bug. Today as I am drafting this blog, several friends of mine are in Prague, Moscow, Amman and London. Dubai opened my eyes with the possibilities of traveling the world. As a Filipino, traveling was not instilled in our skin as everything seems so hard. From getting all the documents ready to a very expensive tour packages. Dubai made traveling simple and easy. The main reason why aspiring travel bloggers like me love this city so much.
Because of its strategic location, almost every place in the world is reachable. Dream of a country right now and start planning! You’ll not regret it!
Opportunities to meet friends from all over the world
I arrived in this country without knowing anyone. No family, no friends. I am a complete stranger to a completely new city. Crazy right? It wasn’t easy but meeting new friends helped me a lot.
I found a lot of my so-called covenant friends (yheap, friends for keeps) at my local church. But I can say that it didn’t end there. The beauty of the UAE is that everyday you’ll have the opportunity to meet new friends coming from different countries. Every time I am in a meeting, it feels as if I am in big cultural immersion (I love it).
We just have to open up and welcome people in our lives. I do know someone who doesn’t have that much friends because he is too picky and afraid to get out of his comfort zone. One thing I learned from my short stint in Dubai is that everyone needs someone and you will only know it by reaching out.
Today that I am building myself as an start-up entrepreneur I am happy that I have made a lot of networks with people of the same passion. I love seeing sparkles in everyone’s eyes whenever they tell their stories (and also listening to mine).
Your future friends are out there. Look for a community, I found mine from church, work and believe it or not, through social media (bloggers and instagrammers!!!).
Opportunities to Learn from Great Leaders
Election is fast approaching in the Philippines and whenever I watch TFC (The Filipino Channel) I always see debates and propagandas relating who should we vote to be in the seat of power. A lot of promises (that meant to be broken —hopefully not). With all the things going on in the Philippines it is our right to aspire that someday, someone in power can turn the Philippines in a complete 180 degrees and make it great (again).
To have seen how Dubai developed from almost nothing (literally just sand) to what it is now, you’ll know that there is always hope. The leaders of this nation had a vision and didn’t stop until they make things right.
I love how our leaders welcomed us and let us be part in building this mega city that we now call as our home. Of course, it is not yet perfect, I can enumerate things that I don’t like in the system but whenever I talk to my local friends, 90% of the time, they salute their leaders and regard them in very high honors. Something that I would love to feel whenever I talk about the Philippines. Maybe someday it will come.
Opportunities for Self Growth
UAE contributed a lot to who I am now. All opportunities stated above helped me grow in different aspects of my life. Whether it is financial, spiritual, passion and even in leadership, Dubai was a big part of these growth. For the past nine years, I have been independent and learned a lot about myself.
Being away from our motherland, we are exposed to a lot of new things, whether it is cultural that we learned from our friends or new corporate knowledge discovered from our colleagues. Everything new can be an opportunity for us to learn.
Not all stories out there are good, there are some sad and challenging experiences that I know all of us experienced (or experiencing right now) but saying these, these are still things that we should still be thankful for. Every hardship gives us an opportunity to improve ourselves and stand up strong and victorious.
I am thankful that being an OFW here in the UAE presents a lot of opportunities and I am proud to say that I am not the same person who left the Philippines. I changed for the better (I hope).
To just say THANK YOU UAE is not enough to express my gratitude to this country. I have seen a lot of lives that changed in this nation.
Aside from these seven, there are still a lot of opportunities out there waiting for you. Don’t box yourself, be open, look for it, work on it and embrace it.
What are the things you are thankful for here in the UAE? Share it with us in the comment box below.