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Any JOS Readers in UAE

Any JOS Readers in UAE, just curious. Looks like I'm the only one. Now ask where the hell is UAE ?

Sunish
Friday, January 09, 2004

Middle East?

Li-fan Chen
Friday, January 09, 2004

I believe there's a few JOS posters from UAE, can't recall their handles though.

Li-fan Chen
Friday, January 09, 2004

Ther at least a couple of us in Saudi. Send us your home email and maybe we could all meet up in Bahrain or Dubai.

Stephen Jones
Friday, January 09, 2004

Can you guys meet in a bar or pub? Or would that be illegal?

Just curious - I was offered a 2 year transfer to Saudi Arabia. My wife freaked out when she thought we had to move there. Are women allowed to drive?

The money was good - but all the stuff we read online kinda scared us away. I guess almost everyday is sunny though ;)

Not a Savant
Friday, January 09, 2004

Mostly Sunni, but there are some Shiites too.

Joel Spolsky
Friday, January 09, 2004

A friend of mine who worked in the petrochemical industry in Saudi reports that he lived in a "camp" about the size of a small town where the majority were foriegn workers, and within that bubble, most anything went.  But outside, the usual Saudi insanity applied, including such things as women not driving, (they can't even sit up front!), etc.

Alyosha`
Friday, January 09, 2004

UAE is altogether different. Especially Dubai. You get it all. I don't think there's any other place you get enough freedom if you mind your own business and your car doesn't get stolen even if you levae the keys. Well USUALLY.

There's no income tax or sales tax, where else in the world you have that kind a benefit with this kinda freedom.

Sunish
Friday, January 09, 2004

In Dubai or Bahrain both men and women can meet in bars to drink.

In Saudi there are no bars, and men and women can't meet anywhere unless they're married - and they'd better have the marriage certificate with them in the Ministry of Vice and Virtue decides to do a check up.

The better off engineers and managers live in Western managed compounds, where women don't have to cover every part of their body, and in those with real  "wasta" Saudis are not allowed past the gate. You will of course end up feeling totally claustrophobic, rather like a character in a Monty Python skit of the last days of the Raj, and as Al-Qaeeda has decided the cool thing is to commit suicide by blowing these compounds up, your wife might not feel as safe as she would elsehwere.

As Joel said, some places are sunny and cheery, Saudi is Sunni and Shia.

Stephen Jones
Friday, January 09, 2004

hey UAE people. I am a programmer in the USA and in my spare time I try to learn different languages. right now I have been learning arabic.

is dubai a good place to learn arabic?

are there any arabic schools for foreigners in dubai (or elsewhere in the UAE?)

thanks!

f.p.
Friday, January 09, 2004

shld be there in may/june.

Prakash S
Friday, January 09, 2004

Dubai is a lousy place to learn Arabid. Three quarters of the population is Indian, and the locals have better things to do in life than mix with the likes of you, and if they do it will be to practise their English.

Go to Cairo, or Damascus. You'll have a nice time, or absolutely hate it, and there are enough expats around for you to regain your sanity if it really gets to you.

Stephen Jones
Friday, January 09, 2004

Cairo's not a bad place to live; it's fairly westernized by arab standards. Lots of tourism means lots of english-speakers, and they are genuinely appreciative and helpful if you're trying to learn their language.

Philo

Philo
Friday, January 09, 2004


To Stephen or other Westerners in that area...I'm curious, is the money and opportunties really that much better over there than say in Europe or the US for software development or engineering?

I was reading a National Geographic article on Saudia Arabia and how like 90% of the workforce is foreign because most Saudis don't have the education to work in engineering jobs and don't have the desire to work in menial labor intensive jobs.

Just curious...I have absolutely zero desire to go there, (too old, too settled and too much of a redneck), but it was intriguing to read about a country that has such enormous wealth, but is also so dependent on foreigners for it's work force.

Mark Hoffman
Friday, January 09, 2004

>is the money and opportunties really that much better
>over there ... for software development or engineering?

Yes the money is definitely better, and the fact that its tax free is icing on the cake.

Software opportunities are becoming less and less.  When I came here almost 10 years ago, programming jobs were a dime a dozen.  Nowadays these same jobs are now being filled by qualified Saudi CS graduates.  I work with a few guys that are really excellent.


BTW Sunish, I'm flying to Dubai for the weekend.  Maybe we can meet up for a beer.  Ever been to The York? ;-)

Matt Foley
Friday, January 09, 2004

Mark,
          I can't help you on this one because I don't work in software; I'm an English teacher.

          I think things really depend on what job you get. Most software development is done here by Indians (sales are normally handled by Egyptians) and they are normally very badly paid (in fact a survey of MCSE salaries gave Saudi MCSE's the lowest salaries in the survey, though as the Emirates came out with the highest, I suspect the survey was flawed) by European or Western standards (say $10,000 to $15,000). Some of these Indians are perfectly competent, and some are scam arrtists who have bluffed their way in.

          As Matt says there are some very good Saudis in programming and IT, though I have to say I have never met one. There are also good telecommunication engineers and other kinds of engineers, but also some goddam hopeless ones. There seem to be few inbetween.

          I don't think the figure of 90% foreign workforce was ever true for Saudi, though it was for Bahrain or the Emirates. The main problem Saudi has now is massive youth  unemployment, caused by the fact that when the oil money was coming in, and the country found itself obliged to import labour, everybody was encouraged to have loads of children. This has continued up till now. When the World Population Congress was held in Cairo a couple of years ago only three countries boycotted it, Sudan, Saudi and the Vatican (coincidentally the two countries with the highest birthrate in the world, and the one with the lowest).

                  Originally the set up was that the Indian or Egyptian did the work, the Sudanese or Palestinians did the white collar jobs, the Westerners managed and the Saudi signed, but things are changing. Ten years ago they had just started to Saudiize the banks, and it was not unusual to see a branch withoug a single customer because none of the Saudis knew how to work the computers. Now the banks are nearly all Saudiized, and although not as efficient as they were, are still more efficient than British banks for example, though that is not difficult. As a student of mine told me five years ago, ten years ago no Saudi would let his daughter marry a technician because it was considered demeaning, but now they are rushing to marry off their daughters to one without charge because they know the guy has a job. We are also starting to see Saudis working in supermarket checkouts and other places, but the problem is that the Sauid bosses are so used to having semi-captive Indian labour they can pay a hundred to two hundred dollars a month to, that they don't want to pay a living wage to the Saudis, and the Saudi still expects to get the same salary his parents could demand when every Saudi was given a government job by right.

          With regard to salaries for westerners they have stayed static in cash terms since the end of the seventies. In 1980 a teacher could collect his first months pay check and buy a new Japanese car outright; now you would have to save up for six months or so. Conditions and benefits in general have also got worse. I would say that the salary is not much better than you would get in your home country, if that, but you can save more because you will get housing paid for and there is no income tax. On the other hand most of what you would save will be lost when you try and resume your career in your home country, and work in Saudi is often looked on as the kiss of death by employers back home. So it's worth it if you have a definite need to pick up some savings, for the deposit on a house for example, or recoverint after a messy divorce, but ff you have a  job where you can get that money at home, I'd stay there. unless you are financially solven, and just want to work in Saudi part of the time and spend the money you earn travelling around the world the rest of the time.

           

Stephen Jones
Saturday, January 10, 2004

Stephen,

Thanks for the reply. Like I said, I have intention of leaving, but I always find if fascinating to hear about the way things are run in parts of the world I've never been to.

Mark Hoffman
Saturday, January 10, 2004

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