Indians Flee Dubai as Dreams Crash - Fall out of Economic Crisis


Indians flee Dubai as dreams crash

Mumbai/DUBAI - JAN 14: It's the great escape by Indians who've hit the dead-end in Dubai.

Local police have found at least 3,000 automobiles -- sedans, SUVs, regulars -- abandoned outside Dubai International Airport in the last four months. Police say most of the vehicles had keys in the ignition, a clear sign they were left behind by owners in a hurry to take flight.

The global economic crisis has brought Dubai's economic progress, mirrored by its soaring towers and luxurious resorts, to a stuttering halt. Several people have been laid off in the past months after the realty boom started unraveling.

On the night of December 31, 2008 alone more than 80 vehicles were found at the airport. "Sixty cars were seized on the first day of this year," director general of Airport Security, Mohammed Bin Thani, told DNA over the phone. On the same day, deputy director of traffic, colonel Saif Mohair Al Mazroui, said they seized 22 cars abandoned at a prohibited area in the airport.

Faced with a cash crunch and a bleak future ahead, there were no goodbyes for the migrants -- overwhelmingly South Asians, mostly Indians - just a quiet abandoning of the family car at the airport and other places.

While 2,500 vehicles have been found dumped in the past four months outside Terminal III, which caters to all global airlines, Terminal II, which is only used by Emirates Airlines, had 160 cars during the same period.

"The construction and real estate industry has been hit following the global slowdown and the direct fallout is that professionals working in the realty industry are rapidly losing their jobs," said a senior media professional, in-charge of a realty supplement in Dubai. "In fact, my weekly real estate supplement usually had 60% advertisement and ran into 300-odd pages. In the last seven weeks, it's down to 80 pages and with fewer advertisments," he added.

Mumbai resident D Nair (name changed) had been living in a plush highrise in Sharjah for the past four years. However, the script went horribly wrong when his contract was terminated. Nair used all his credit cards to their maximum limit, shopping for people back home. He then discarded his Honda Accord before returning to India for good. Nair, who stays in a rented apartment in Navi Mumbai today, has a Rs15 lakh loan with a Dubai bank.

Another such victim of the meltdown said he bid goodbye to his car in a small bylane near the airport and hailed a cab. "I was scared because a number of us were doing the same and did not want to be questioned by the police. There was no way I could afford to pay the EMI of 1100 Dhirams for my Ford Focus," he told DNA on condition of anonymity.

When contacted, the dealer for Asgar Ali cars in Sharjah said, "We are helpless and do not know how to tackle this issue. A large number of such owners are from Indian, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries."


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Comment on this article

  • Nevil dsouza, Mumbai

    Mon, Jul 25 2011

    yaa..i hope this situation changes soon !

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  • Nevil dsouza, Mumbai

    Mon, Jul 25 2011

    yaaa....i hope this situation changes!

    DisAgree [1] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Su Ann Mak, Singapore

    Fri, May 29 2009

    Dubai seems like a sick place has been the worst hit by the economic crisis is making it even worse....its ruler Shiekh Mohammad must do something soon if he doesn''t want his dream to come crashing down like a pack of cards...

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  • Mazhar, Dubai

    Mon, Apr 27 2009

    The news story is a wild exaggeration of the reality on the ground. I wouldn''t say this if I were just a resident of the UAE/Dubai. The reason I find Raghu Raman''s story exaggerated is because I work at Dubai International and know for a fact that the number of cars abandonned at the airport in 2008 was 68, as compared to 60 in 2007. Why can''t it be 3000 vehicles as the article claims? Well, simply because the car park''s capacity is merely 1800 in Terminal 3 and it''s a short term car parks. The long term car parks at T1 and T2 allow you to leave your vehicle for up to 3 months, and a grace period of 10 days is given before the vehicle is reported. The recession was first felt here in the UAE just around November and the stories of abandoned cars were first reported in December. Less than a month of parking time! Some 37.4 million passengers used the airport in 2008 if 3000 cars were abandonned across car parks in Terminal 1, 2 and 3, there would have been a severe shortage of parking spaces at least for a month in short term car parks and for 3 months in long term car parks. But that was never the case. And anyone who knows Dubai also knows this is not a place where you can leave your car in  an undesignated area without attracting attention. There are problems all over the world and UAE is affected too. But the situation is not as bad as in some other countries, and definitely nowehere near the picture the yellow journalists have been painting.

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  • Brandon, USA

    Thu, Feb 19 2009

    Suresh, your comment makes absolutely no sense.

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  • Suresh, India

    Wed, Feb 18 2009

    Dear Shantanu, You need to have a basic understanding about a work culture and professionalism of Employers in gulf countries before ranting on your own country man, (just because you cannot afford a good piece of real estate with you pity savings from NY). A simple example is you will be promised a Doctors job before taking a flight at your home land and will be given a cleaner duty once you land.

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  • Jim Tompson, USA/UAE

    Tue, Feb 10 2009

    There is shared blame for this situation. Yes, some expats (Many Indian but certainly not exclusively) made a huge amount of money very quickly while working in Dubai during the expansion times. But also the banks and developers have been greedy, just as in the US, and gave loans and property to people who certainly could not afford it. The GCC needs to institute a real credit reporting system, and more banking regulation to prevent this type of overheated market. While living in the UAE it was amazing that everyone believed that the government had the ability to prevent such a rapid decline. This may have been true on a small scale, but an over extended economy like Dubai cannot handle a significant global downturn. The real estate and tourism market in Dubai requires money from expats to sustain. While I do not cheer for abandoning one's debts, steps should have been taken by government with the banks and business community to reduce the problem.

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  • Raseed Lakdawala, India

    Thu, Feb 05 2009

    Sorry to hear this act done by my country man.  They are really.............

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  • Shantanu B, New York

    Mon, Jan 26 2009

    Nirmesh: Nobody is forcing these people to stay in the UAE and pay those exorbitant rents, fees, tolls, etc. They are doing so out of their own will. During the unprecedented boom years, these expatriates were primarily responsible for the out of control real estate bubble in India.

    Some of these clowns were leveraged 15:1 or more on such deals and made out like bandits during the go-go years. So I'm not shedding a tear for these folks. Absconding from a country without clearing your debt (like abandoning your car at the airport) makes you a felon and I feel the Gulf region nations should pressurize India to investigate these guys and if found guilty, they should be repatriated back to the concerned country to stand trial.

    All outstanding debts/loans should be paid back to the lender by liquidating the assets of these absconding jerks (irrespective of which geographic region they have tucked away their assets). Doing so would send a very strong signal to potential clowns from repeating the stunt. The Indian govt. has complained for years about the recalcitrant attitude of Gulf region nations in prosecuting the mafia dons based in their countries (who wreak havoc in India from time-to-time).

    If the govt. of India expects any co-operation from the GCC on that front, it needs to be pro-active in hunting down all the absconding NRIs and turning them over to the gulf countries. Remember this - it's never a one-way street.

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  • Nirmesh, INDIA / UAE

    Sun, Jan 25 2009

    All those who defaulted were not 100% Indians only, there are many more nationalities involved in this defaulters list. Moreover its only Indians who comprise the major chunk of population of UAE, so any type of recession or economic down turn will effect the majority.

    Its Proudly Indians who are major contributors to the UAE Economy &Business, unfortnately due to people being sacked and in a situation where they cant afford to pay huge School Fees, Exorbitant Rents, Highest Fuel Prices in GCC,Tolls taking Toll on people life, what is the remedy offered by the Authourities ?? If you are sacked by a company in India, your Govt can safegaurd your interests, but if you work abroad (GCC) only GOD can safeguard you !! thats the bitter truth of Middle East !!

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  • Nelson Pereira, Goa/Mumbai

    Fri, Jan 16 2009

    Economic Crisis, It was expected. The warning was there with the happenings in the Stock Market. This is a cycle , every -7 to -10- - years things usualy change for the better or worse in rotation. Keep guard.

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  • hilda, mangalore

    Fri, Jan 16 2009

    Very bad, I feel very sad. May the Almighty God give everyone their daily bread.

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  • jeevan shetty, karkala

    Fri, Jan 16 2009

    It is good people are coming back to their native land  as there is shortage of man power for working in paddyfield,agriculture and other type of jobs .

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  • Ratnakar, Kasaragod/ Dubai

    Fri, Jan 16 2009

    What one observes today is just a trickle. At present only the building designers and real estate people are affected. Once the major ongoing projects gets completed in a few months, there will be an exodus of tens of thousands of construction workers. The Indian government must wake up to this reality and the social problems associated with it.

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  • jithen shetty, karkala/dubai

    Fri, Jan 16 2009

    Be proud to be an INDIAN . Because of Indians today the U.A.E. is having such high rise buildings and looks so beautiful.

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  • Blyton Pinto, Mangalore/Dubai

    Fri, Jan 16 2009

    A correction regarding the airport terminals. You mentioned in your article that Terminal III caters to all global airlines and Terminal II is only used by Emirates Airlines. This is incorrect. Terminal 1 is used by all big global airlines, Terminal 2 is used by small regional airlines and Terminal 3 is used exclusively by Emirates. . Regards, Blyton.

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  • amrit, dubai

    Thu, Jan 15 2009

    Its not only Indians but a whole lot of middle class expatriates from all over the world who are fleeing the middle east like water rats... what else will they do? when all of a sudden they are handed the pink slip and told to leave? anybody who has never stepped of India to work will never realise the pressures an open economy puts on an individual. Don't show Indians in a bad light, these are the same Indian who brought up the middle east and worked hard to raise the region to its high pedestal

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  • Lydia Lobo, Kadri

    Wed, Jan 14 2009

    All these defaulters know that they can never return to UAE for lifetime on the passport they presently carry nor with another one with similar name. Worst, if they had undergone Iris-scan when entering the country. Nevertheless, for them it is better to be a defaulter than a prisoner. That is the state of expatriates in UAE.

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