Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE

DUBAI: There are, by various official estimates, approximately a million Pinoys in the United Arab Emirates. The number includes overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), their relatives and the undocumented ones living off part-time jobs.

Indeed, as Eat Bulaga would have it, the place has everyone “mula Aparri hanggang Jolo;” everybody’s here: Ilocano, Kapampangan, Batangueno, Tagalog, Caviteno, Oragon, Bisaya, Ilonggo, Muslim, Davawenyo, Maranao… you name it.

And so they are here: bata, matanda,  lalake, babae, bakla, tomboy, pandak, matangkad, may uban o wala!

The community is big enough to be called “Little Philippines,” a perfect theme for a grand stage play in the likes of Cirque du Soleil, if you will, with performers covering a good cross-section of contemporary society – from lawyers, engineers and medical practitioners to burger fryers at a fastfood joint and every old lady’s favorite pedicure artists at that street corner salon, doing the daily grind.

Numbers speak

By official numbers from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), UAE accounts for roughly 16% of the estimated 2.2 million OFWs around the world during the period April to September 2016 – the latest available figure from the government.

The UAE, according to Marietta Bellotindos, regional director at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), was in the top 10 list of work destinations for Filipinos in the first half of 2017.

Other accounts place the UAE on third preferred choice by OFWs, next only to Saudi Arabia and the US, in that order.

What gives?

The UAE is a top choice among OFWs because it’s relatively easy to get in here – visit visa would suffice unlike other countries’ point system for instance. This, aside from the fact that most Filipinos have one or two relatives already in the country; in fact, some have the whole barangay or looban, so to speak.

Putting a finger on the question, The Filipino Times rolled out a straw poll on some 2,000 respondents across UAE and came up with these top reasons why Pinoys just love to be here.

  1. 1. Travel friendly

Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE Filipino expats GULF NEWS OFW UAE NEWS

Easily a whopping 85% of respondents said they decided to try their luck in the UAE because it is a travel-friendly country, where one only needs a visit visa to get in. Embassy and consulate officials have, in recent interviews, said majority of OFWs in the country are those who have managed to amend their entry visas to employment permits.

There are red flags though as it can get rough job hunting on a deadline, meaning you have to get a job before your visit visa expires or have enough money to go on a visa run instead. One such lucky visit visa job hunter was Malou Prado who arrived years ago and landed a job at a travel and tours agency; she now runs her own.

  1. 2. Higher salary, currency-wise.

Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE Filipino expats GULF NEWS OFW UAE NEWS

This is second top reason cited by respondents, noting that with the peso-dirham exchange rate staying at between P13 and P14, they get more for their hard work.

Alvin Pancito, popularly the life-saver/singer, having save lives one night a few years back at Kite Beach and who also does the rounds at bars and gatherings as a balladeer, attests to this. “Before I went to Dubai, I was working as customer service clerk at Shoemart, making Ph13,000 (Dh912),” Pancito said.

Pancito said he is currently employed at a hypermart company as a supply chain assistant making the equivalent of Ph80,000.

The same is true with Karlo Dubros, who said, “Mas malaki sweldo kumpara sa Pilipinas at tax-free pa.” (The salary is bigger and its tax-free.)

  1. 3. Relatives are already in the UAE doing good.

Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE Filipino expats GULF NEWS OFW UAE NEWS

“Dinala ako dito ng mother ko,” said Sergio Romano. Ana Alicante, who is in public relations, for her part was brought to the UAE by her sister who paid for her visa and plane fare.

These are common stories from OFWs hereabouts. Grace Sario, for instance, a household service worker, said she has two sisters in the UAE “and so many cousins.”

Another OFW, Arris Padernal Borja, senior sales manager, whose sister and her family are in the country, not to mention four of his cousins, for his part said,  “Hindi ako natatakot pumunta sa isang lugar na anduon na ang mga kamag-anak ko kasi meron akong assurance of a support network.” (I am not worried to move to a place where I already have relatives in because I have the assurance of a support network.) Borja is now married with a child in the UAE.

  1. 4. Job opportunities.

Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE Filipino expats GULF NEWS OFW UAE NEWS

“Mas maraming job vacancies sa Dubai because it is the center of trade sa Middle East. Business capital ng Middle East yan including Africa and reaching up to Europe or Russia; trading hub means employment opportunities,” in a nutshell, so explained Mia Lapis, media practitioner.

Agreed, Engr. Yuri Cipriano, who said, “maraming work and learning opportunities at, kung maparaan, available and affordable ang venues for skills enhancement and career development.”

  1. 5. Springboard.

Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE Filipino expats GULF NEWS OFW UAE NEWS

At least two of the UAE’s emirates  – Dubai and Abu Dhabi – have attained global status as powerhouse cities, making visa applications to other countries less stressful. Plus, plane fare from the UAE to almost anywhere else around the world is relatively cheaper owing to its strategic geographical location. Together, this make the UAE a perfect springboard for anyone pursuing life goals.

Said  multi-awarded lawyer, Atty. Barney Almazar: “Ang nakikita ko dyan, UAE is just a preparatory country, just a stepping stone, for them to be able to go to their ultimate country of destination. Kasi di ba pag galing dito mas madali na? (If you’re from the UAE, isn’t it easier to go to another country?)”
Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE Filipino expats GULF NEWS OFW UAE NEWS  Atty. Barney Almazar
He added that UAE is a top choice but only in the sense that it is easier to get in here, visa-wise, and get a job compared to the US or Canada, for instance.   He said Filipinos would generally prefer other countries because the currency difference between UAE and the Philippines is not that far apart compared to the euro (Eur 64.56) or the dollar ($52.20), Singaporean dollar (SGD39.66) or Canadian dollar (CAD41.54).

And so the springboard.

  1. 6. Safety and security.

Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE Filipino expats GULF NEWS OFW UAE NEWS

This is best explained by Labor Attaché  Ophel Almenario: “Before Filipinos decide to work abroad, they would first make sure that their rights are protected in their country of destination.” She said Filipinos in the UAE “experience optimal security and safety to ensure coexistence between locals and expats of different nationalities.”

“Dito, di ka gagalawin ng kung sinu-sino. At kung may gamit kang naiwan or nawala, naibabalik. The laws here are strictly enforced and the response to crime is very fast. UAE is among the top countries when it comes to security,” she said.
Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE Filipino expats GULF NEWS OFW UAE NEWS  Labor Attache Ophelia Almenario
The Dubai Police have a three-dimensional map and a system of patrols to ensure air-tight security in this international city that never sleeps. This was learned after members of the International Association of Police Leaders paid a recent visit to the Dubai Police and were welcomed by Major General Al-Obaidli, assistant commander-in-chief of Excellence and Leadership.

The delegation visited the law enforcement body’s command and control center and learned about procedures taken from the time the communication is received to the patrol arrives at the scene.  They also learned that external roads are monitored by fixed and airborne cameras and an early warning service is in place.

  1. 7. Religious tolerance.

Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE Filipino expats GULF NEWS OFW UAE NEWS

Filipinos in the UAE are free to exercise their right to religion. In fact, various religious congregations abound. “The UAE is one of the few countries in the Middle East that allows us to practice our own religion. We have churches here. We have Filipino communities that they allow to freely organize with little to no restrictions.” said Embassy Attaché and Case Officer Ed  Paraan.
Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE Filipino expats GULF NEWS OFW UAE NEWS  Case Officer Ed Paraan

  1. 8. UAE employers prefer Pinoys.

Top reasons why Pinoys prefer to work in the UAE Filipino expats GULF NEWS OFW UAE NEWS

Time and again, not only a handful of employers in the UAE have stood up to declare they prefer Filipinos because this breed of foreign workers have passion and dedication for their work.

As renowned environmentalist Dana Al Hammadi,  the first Emirati lady to reach the South Pole,  said: “What I like about Filipinos is that they are very warm and very friendly. They are family-oriented and they enjoy social events and gatherings. They are cautious when dealing with strangers in the beginning, but once they know you more, they open up and welcome you in their circle.”

“Filipinos have a high sense of commitment and dedication to their work. To them, work and the fruits that come out of it are blessings that must be treasured and appreciated. Of course, nobody is perfect, but I like working with Filipinos due to the sincere and loving environment that they create in professional and social spaces.”

There you go.  Aside from the relative ease of getting in the UAE, Filipinos prefer to work here because the country is also labor-friendly with a lot of job opportunities, being a trade hub that straddles the East and West and where employers prefer workers from the Philippines because of their dedication.

The country is safe with relatively low crime rate and efficient law enforcement; of course, salary is a lot better than back home; there is religious tolerance; and there is chance to be successful getting elsewhere in pursuit of life goals.


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