1900 is a good salary in Dubai

Career abroad : Off to Dubai: Generation Golf

David-Benjamin Kahl moved to Dubai a year and a half ago. At that time, his German employer, Max Bögl Bauunternehmung, offered him the opportunity to work abroad. The construction of the multi-purpose stadium sounded so exciting for the now 27-year-old that he “immediately consented”. The engineer is now building the Sports City in the huge Dubai amusement park, Dubai's Disneyland. He is proud of what he does every day on the construction site: "If you try hard, you can really achieve something."

Kahl isn't the only one looking for luck in the golf. In the region, where oil and gas are abundant, there is still a mood of optimism instead of a depression as in the USA and Europe. With the profits of the past few years, the sheikhs have created a financial cushion. Hardly anyone expects the economy to crash; most estimates predict growth of four percent for the Gulf States in 2009, after just under six percent in 2008.

For the next five years, projects worth 1,900 billion dollars are planned or already under construction in the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman. Especially the western-oriented UAE members Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but also the neighboring Qatar and the island state of Bahrain have initiated a transformation process - away from oil and towards tourism, logistics and education. Large airports, a railway network that stretches across the Arabian Peninsula, power plants - an infrastructure of superlatives is emerging in the desert sand. And with it thousands of job opportunities for specialists. Estimates on the occasion of the "Middle East Human Resources Summit", which is supported by international personnel consultancies such as the Hay Group and the online job exchange Monster, assume that the Gulf States will need 1.5 million additional employees by 2020.

Bedouins and the rest live separately

Construction workers from Pakistan, cleaning women from the Philippines, nannies from Namibia, engineers from Germany, cooks from France, managers from Egypt. Dubai already looks like the epitome of the global village, but appearances are deceptive. In all sheikdoms there is a rigid three-class society: The descendants of the Bedouins mostly stay among themselves, they speak Arabic, everyone else English. Well-educated foreigners from the West are on the second level of the hierarchy. At the lowest level, there are thousands and thousands of low-wage workers. The disdainful treatment of staff has a long tradition. "For the descendants of the Bedouins, for whom the animals ensured their survival in the desert, a camel or a hunting falcon are more important than a person," says Gabriele Mertens, the general secretary of the German Raphaels factory, which advises emigrants and expatriates.

The civil engineer Kahl belongs to the Golf generation: young, well-trained job nomads who are looking for adventure and money and who are extremely pragmatic and ambitious. The number of German citizens in the Gulf is still relatively small. The UAE has an estimated five million inhabitants - about as many as Berlin and the surrounding area. Around 10,000 of them are Germans. In Bahrain and Qatar there are a few hundred more each. There are no more precise surveys. Her temporary home has catapulted her from yesterday into the day after tomorrow. Since the oil started bubbling, life has changed enormously for the Emiratis, they now let work instead of tackling it themselves. Mertens says: “The labor market in the Gulf is still developing and is dominated by foreigners. Around 90 percent of workers in the UAE are not locals. "

Dubai acts like a magnet

Engineers, managers and sales representatives are in demand, and professors and scientists are now also being sought. Because the rulers invest in education. "Germans are very much valued for their reliability and thoroughness," says Mertens. Because of their strict entry regulations, the Emirates are not an emigration destination like the USA; Stays are always limited in time. But the number of employees posted by companies is steadily increasing. Whether building construction, civil engineering or plant construction, consumer goods manufacturers, hospital operators, trade fair organizers or hoteliers: managers in all industries smell lucrative business. German companies are particularly benefiting from the forward strategy of the Gulf region. Their exports to the United Arab Emirates have more than doubled since 2000 to 5.8 billion euros.

Those who are well educated, work hard and are not afraid of adapting their life to an Islamic world earn as much as they do at home - only tax-free. In the Gulf, gross is equal to net.

Of the Emirates on the Arabian Peninsula, it is above all Dubai that acts like a magnet for foreign workers. Nowhere else in the world are more spectacular structures erected. The first coup of the state-owned construction company Nakheel was the artificial island in the shape of a palm tree, "The Palm Jumeirah". The second will be the tallest skyscraper in the world, the approximately 800 meter high “Tower of Dubai”. And the third: a twelve-lane suspension bridge that connects the districts of Burj Dubai and Deira. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, on the other hand, is a graceful footbridge.

Use the system as the system uses you

Ferdinand Storz experiences Dubai, the land of extremes, every day. The German is renovating a wild garbage dump in the emirate of Sharjah in order to gain building land for the overpopulated emirate. Sharjah is the “dormitory city” of Dubai, about 30 kilometers to the north and preferred by commuters. Because living in Dubai is expensive. A 30 square meter apartment costs around 2000 euros. The coastal road between Dubai and Sharjah is often congested and the journey can take up to five hours. Anyone who has a four-wheel drive vehicle like Storz drives straight through the desert - at the risk of getting stuck in the sand. But even “if I have to dig out my car for an hour, I still have two hours,” says the young engineer.

He came to the Gulf with a clear goal. He uses the system just as it uses him. The 28-year-old wants to earn the start-up capital for his own youth hostel in Australia and took an unconventional approach to the project. After returning from a trip around the world and unable to find work, he placed an ad in a German newspaper. His job application earned him the job of development engineer. “I earn a good 5500 euros per month, of which I can easily save 3000 to 4000 euros because my employer also provides me with an apartment, car and cell phone.” For two years now, the flexible globetrotter has shared a villa with his colleagues, including a swimming pool and tennis court.

But his job is not as idyllic as his new temporary home: around seven million cubic meters of rubbish have to be recycled. Concrete blocks, half cars, air conditioning systems are stuck in the sand. Storz has constructed a giant sieve that filters out the coarsest chunks. Workers then have to sort out smaller waste on the conveyor belt. "Because this landfill is more than 30 years old, the garbage at least doesn't smell anymore," says Storz.

Political movements are not wanted

Above all, Indians and Pakistani people work on the garbage conveyor. Storz is the only German among the skilled workers; the other expats come from Syria and Iraq. “They have a different understanding of leadership than we Europeans. Some of them beat their subordinates to raise them, ”says the German.

The discontent among the workers is stirring. There are social explosives, especially on construction sites. Again and again the workers who come from Pakistan or Bangladesh and earn only around 200 euros a month revolt. They complain about long working hours and low wages - some of which they don't even get. “Much of the pomp and show is built on the backs of the poor,” reports civil engineer Kahl.

Those who belong to the Golf generation make compromises - also with regard to their own job. "Because the risk of being fired straight away and having to leave the country is great," says Gabriele Mertens from the Raphaels factory. Trade unions or political movements are not welcome. The change in culture is more serious than going to South Africa as a German, for example. Because Islam is not only the dominant religion in the Emirates, but also determines the social order. The Koran extends into legislation.

There are no cheap flights or internet telephony

Completely different rules of the game apply on the Arab labor market: from the non-existent unemployment insurance to spontaneous holiday arrangements to the existence-threatening right of termination. "It is criminally reckless to conclude an employment contract by phone or email," says Mertens. She advises you to involve an international recruitment agency or a German law firm with a branch in the Middle East.

Expats find each other through German round tables or through virtual social networks such as Facebook. Passing on phone numbers to meet for a quad race or a barbecue in the desert, kite surfing or snorkeling in the warm golf bath is the number one popular sport among foreigners.

The golf generation has to forego many of the achievements of modern life. There are no cheap flights or internet telephony in the Emirates. In Abu Dhabi, the telephone and chat software Skype, with which one could easily and cheaply keep up with the home, is even banned. In the Emirates, strict morals prevail. "During the fasting month of Ramadan, restaurants outside the hotels are closed and working hours are reduced to ten to four o'clock in accordance with regulations," says Dominik Plewka. Born in Essen, he started as an intern at ACI Real Estate almost a year ago after completing his BAchelor degree in business administration and has since become assistant to the board.

Civil engineer David-Benjamin Kahl, garbage collector Ferdinand Storz, executive assistant Dominik Plewka - they are part of the Golf generation. They enjoy a high standard of living and the exoticism of the Emirates, but they also accept compromises. The group is guaranteed to grow.

The full article can be found on the Internet at: www.karriere.de

To home page