Britons in Dubai sell possessions and return home as coronavirus ends expat dream
The Dubai skyline in the United Arab Emirates - Ali Haider
Dubai's expat community groups are full of bargains. everything from cars to fitness subscriptions. The fire sales are the result of expats who have become unemployed due to the UAE's coronavirus blockage. Among them, thousands of British expats are trying to scrape the pennies back before being forced to leave what many call home.
The corona virus lock has changed the lives of thousands of expats and turned their dream of living abroad into a nightmare of insecurity. Thousands were fired and stringent visa requirements forced them to return to the UK without time to catch their breath.
It's been almost 11 years since Selina Dixon traded her claustrophobic path from Surrey to Central London for her expat dreams from Dubai.
"I spent four hours a day on the train," she tells The Telegraph.
The fashion marketer left the drizzle and early morning commuter traffic for a new life in the UAE. One that promised sun all year round, tax-free salaries and the possibility of an adventure.
"It's not about glamor and glamor. Those who were lucky enough to live here know that there is a lot more behind the facade," she says.
An estimated 240,000 British call the UAE their home and work from stewardesses to teachers.
Dixon was released a few weeks ago and is now living off her meager savings. Her visa expires in weeks and she cannot extend it if she cannot find a new job.
"Every day when you wake up, search on LinkedIn. But when you talk to contacts and your network, you have to make sure that so many people go through it."
With thousands of people flying in and out of the UAE every day in normal times, the country has always been vulnerable to Covid-19. Parts of the economy were closed due to a strict ban. Although around 40,000 cases of the virus have been registered, Dubai is slowly opening up, but the economic recovery is likely to take many years.
Ninety percent of the UAE's population are expats, and a study conducted by the quantitative analysis firm Oxford Economics earlier this month estimates that the country's nine million people could lose up to 900,000 jobs, and about 10 percent of its population - British expats are likely to be among the most worst affected.
At least part of the difficulty lies in the UAE's kafala or sponsorship system. A visa system where the place of residence is linked to your job. Companies can sponsor a foreigner for the duration of their stay as long as they employ them. However, as soon as someone becomes unemployed, a countdown begins after their visa expires.
As Dixon says: "Dubai is a place that is difficult without a visa."
Although the government has announced some visa exemptions, those who have lost their jobs since March 1st will have 30 days to find a new job, or their visas will become invalid and face daily fines.
This means that people like Dixon may be forced to return to the UK for the first time in years. "It wasn't a decision I wanted to make, but one that I might have to make."
"I haven't been to the UK in ten years. I have to start over." Although I have the experience, it's the UK network that I'm struggling with. "
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