It was probably the 70’s when Pakistanis became seriously obsessed with moving to the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE (commonly known as Dubai). Entire families moved to the Gulf, jobs ranging from construction to banking.
My family was the same, walidain moved to Dubai around the late 80’s, and subsequently, my siblings and I were all born here, and this is the place we still call home.
Back in those days, Dubai was just sand, 5-story buildings at the max and hangouts at Mamzar beach. The days of blissful childhood grew turned into the then gruesome school days. It was during this time that the dunes of Dubai gave way to skyscrapers, luxury villas, and malls. The possibilities were endless, at that impressionable age, it seemed like we were growing up with the city and that we could grow up to make it big- that was the dream we were sold as we lived in one of the world’s fastest-growing cities.
In the early 2000s, those of us who were older, going abroad to study and coming back to amazing, well-paying jobs, and thus this is how the trend began. The promise of making it big was slowly being realized in front of our eyes, and obviously, I and so many other people my age wanted it for ourselves. A lot of people would call that the ‘Gulf dream’. I would be lying if I said that the 2007 recession shook that image but we all saw the city slowly recover and go back to the glitz and glam it’s so famous for.
When it came time for me to graduate from high school, I followed the tradition set out before me by almost every other expatriate child. I applied to the USA for college and spent the best four years of my life, however, I always knew I was going to come back to Dubai, no matter what!
Whenever I would come back to visit my parents I would meet at least 10 uncles who would tell me ‘Amreeka se parh kar aa rahay ho, yahan set hojao ge, araam se beta!’. Chalo if so many people keep telling me this, it must be true, the Gulf dream is still intact.
So fast forward to about 2017, I’ve graduated! I take my flight back to Dubai, the flight that is supposed to take me to my bright future.
Oh, boy was I wrong!
The city has grown, population wise, and with that, there is obviously going be a huge rise in competition but something just doesn’t feel right anymore.
The city just feels tense. It’s as if it’s reached saturation, and everyone’s worried who’s going to stay in and who’s going to be kicked out. This feeling is definitely prevalent in fresh graduates. Myself included most of us cannot find jobs. It’s infuriating!
The most we seem to be getting are unpaid internships and well, that frankly is not enough. Even those of us who have gotten jobs aren’t particularly secure. Every day the newspaper reads of companies laying off huge numbers of employees. It’s a scary time.
It’s as if the city is increasing its barriers to entry. It’s rejecting us slowly. You might think I’m exaggerating but that’s the feeling in the city. People aren’t getting the jobs they deserve and the cost of living has shot up immensely. Dubai has slowly become a city that’s all glamor, but its the type of glamor that you’ll never reach.
It’s clear that the effects of rising oil prices have hit, and hit hard. The city is losing its charm for so many of us. We’re not only mindlessly going from company to company, finding jobs, but we’re having to face costs that are rising day by day. I and many others are still fortunate enough to have our families here, so there’s always that support, but I can’t imagine how those who without anyone in the city cope.
Dubai represented a stepping stone, you could make something of yourself. The city would give you the opportunity to grow and prosper, but now that isn’t the case. The Gulf dream is over!
Cover image via: Big Bus Tours