Life in a city? Spectacular, glamor, elegance, sophistication… basically POSH LIVING. Driving down a city like Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the beauty you see is the power of man’s manipulation of the environment, achievements of beautiful concrete landscapes to paint your horizon, with shopping malls to further sprinkle the charisma on your greed for more, luxurious carriages speeding down the highways easing the life of the elite, and more, basically an all opulent living.

The superficial beauty of every thing seems to mask the unpolished side of the city. Areas so earthy with the worst of living conditions, jobs with no benefits, labour workers tormented with low wages and all other issues masked below the ritzy sands of greenery planted to redefine the term humane. Join me, Aasim Yacub, on a reality road trip.

Mr. Ahmed A – RTA Taxi Driver

Q1. Where are you aboriginally from? And why did you come here?

  • I am originally from Pakistan. I came to U.A.E to find a better standard of living, moreover to earn more to send back to my family. I am the second son, my father left us when I was 11 yrs and my older brother worked the farm thereafter. I sensed it was my duty to help out my brother and so I searched for paying jobs. I also have 3 sisters. I am trying to collect as much money as I can so that they can study and I be able to bring them here once.

Q2. How long have you been driving the taxi? What is the most satisfying part about it?

  • I have been driving the taxi for almost 5 years now. The most enjoyable part about it is to look into the rearview mirror and look at the kids enjoy the ride. When I look at them I imagine my youngest sister enjoying the beautiful view outside and giggling.

Q3. Is there a fixed amount of salary you get? Are you satisfied with it?

  • There is no fixed salary. The more the number of passengers you are able to treat the higher you get. The salary is calculated such that, out of the total amount a fraction goes to RTA, then next cut is the petrol and tolls, the later fraction remaining is what you get in hand.

Q4. With the development of RTA metro, bus and tram how has it affected the taxis?

  • Definitely with the rise in usage of metro, bus and trams the demand of taxi has shown a decrease. However, taxi is still a facility many are willing to use, as it is a personal mode and not route guided unlike the others. The customers are easy to find and the taxi on call service is also a marketing  strategy well appreciated by all passengers.

Mr. Lateef Younus – House Boy/ Car Cleaner

Q1. Where are you aboriginally from? And why did you come here?

  • I am from Bangladesh. I came here to find higher paying job to help me accumulate enough for my sisters marriage. I have 2 elder sisters, one married and the other yet to be. I sent enough back home home for my elder sister’s (24yrs) marriage, she now has a son (4 months). The second sister (23yrs) currently volunteers at a mosque back home.

Q2. When was the last time you went back home for a vacation?

  • I came here in 2011 when I was 18. After that I am trying to collect as much as I can to buy a return ticket. I aim to go home by 2017 Feb for a month or so. My father has volunteered to give money to bring me back but I am determined to buy a ticket with the money I have earned.

Q3. What is your schedule for the week?

  • From Sunday to Thursday I work at 7 daily apartments and a villa from 8:00 AM to 7:25 PM. After that I go to my room (a 1 BR Apprt shared by 5 Bachelors) take a quick shower and go to a close-by restaurant and catch customers to clean their cars. Then on Fridays, I have one villa then go to the mosque for the Friday prayer and then the rest of the day I usually spend in my room. On Saturdays, I again go to the rest. to catch customers to clean their cars.

Q4. What is you avg. income (monthly)?

  • The total for my monthly income is 500 AED / House so that would comes up to 4000 AED usually and probably 150- 300 AED earned by cleaning the cars outside the restaurant.

Ms. April J – Labour worker (Maid)

Q1. Where are you aboriginally from? Why did you come to Dubai?

  • I am originally from Philippines. I came here because my older sister works here as well and she recommended me to come here as it is better paying, she new many companies ready to hire and above all she and I would be together.

Q2. How do you find your accommodation/ Facilities?

  • The dorm is pretty decent. The floor has a common washroom and kitchen. The ladies living in the camp are all really cooperative. We practically are like a family, probably the reason we don’t miss home that much. The only problem is too much dust, but we all have become accustomed to it. We all lay a long plastic sheet and await the arrival of the food truck (sent by the company). The food is the best part of the day. We all get to liaise with each other and my sister and I believe it’s a break from all the worries.
  • (Their menu comprises of a chapati and one semi-dry veg. gravy)

Q3. What are your working hours?

  • The Ministry has very well marked the working hours for us, it ranges from 40- 45 Hours a week. Some days though it does get late at certain places. However, we aren’t excused from the early wake up routine.

Q4. What do you miss the most about home?

  • My mothers home prepared meal. My fathers concern and care for me and all my friends back home.

Having conversed with all of these individuals, the only thing that resonated after their interviews were vibes of positivity and determination. This moulded with the guidance from their employers help shape the glamorous cities in which we all ride down with awe! These people oil the gears to light up the streets of our cities!

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