Wednesday, June 19, 2024

10 Main Challenges Filipino Expats Face in UAE

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The Filipino community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) faces a variety of issues, some of which are common to all migrant workers and others that are unique to the UAE or the Filipino community.

Labor rights

In the UAE, migrant workers, including Filipinos, are susceptible to labor abuses such as nonpayment of wages, long working hours, and unsafe working conditions. Even though UAE labor laws protect workers’ rights, they are sometimes weakly enforced, and some employers may exploit loopholes or engage in illegal practices.

Living conditions

There are a large number of Filipino workers living in substandard housing in the UAE, which can hurt their health and well-being. Healthcare and education may also be difficult to access for some workers.

Cultural adjustment

Filipino workers may find adjusting to life in the UAE challenging due to its very different culture and social environment. Many factors contribute to loneliness and disconnection, including language barriers, discrimination, and social isolation.

Immigration issues

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Filipino workers in the UAE can experience difficulties obtaining or renewing their visas, which could negatively impact their ability to work and live there. Losing their employment or violating immigration regulations may also result in deportation for some workers.

Mental health

Mental health can be affected by the stress and challenges of living and working abroad. Filipino workers in the UAE may suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues and have limited access to mental health care.

Separation from family

Families of Filipino workers in the UAE are frequently separated for extended periods, which can be emotionally challenging and strain relations between family members. Some workers may also support family members in the Philippines, which can strain their finances.


Filipino workers may face discrimination or stereotyping based on nationality, ethnicity, or religion in the United Arab Emirates. As a result, they may experience difficulties at work and in social situations, leading to feelings of isolation and resentment.

Harassment and abuse

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There may be instances of harassment or abuse experienced by Filipino workers in the UAE by their employers, colleagues, or members of the public. As a result, workers may be subjected to verbal, physical, or sexual harassment, which can adversely affect their mental and physical health.

Lack of access to justice

In the UAE, some Filipino workers may have difficulty accessing legal services or seeking redress for labor abuses or other grievances. Language barriers, a lack of awareness of legal rights, and a fear of reprisals may all contribute to this problem.

Limited career progression

Filipino workers in the UAE may face limited opportunities for career advancement or professional development, which may negatively affect their job satisfaction and prospects. This may be due to discrimination, restricted access to training and education, or limited employment opportunities.

Filipino workers in the UAE face various challenges regarding their working and living conditions, cultural adjustment, immigration status, and mental health. These challenges can impact their well-being and quality of life, requiring ongoing attention and support from governments, employers, and community organizations.

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Why Filipinos face such challenges


Many Filipino workers come to the UAE for better employment opportunities and higher wages. However, the migration process can be expensive and often involves taking out loans or borrowing money, which can create financial stress. Additionally, once in the UAE, workers may find that their wages are lower than expected or that their work and living conditions are not as favorable as they had hoped.

Lack of legal protections

Although the UAE has laws that protect workers’ rights, these laws are not always effectively enforced. Some employers may use this lack of enforcement to mistreat or exploit workers, knowing they are unlikely to face the consequences.

Language and cultural barriers

Many Filipino workers in the UAE may not speak Arabic or English fluently, which can make it difficult for them to communicate with employers, colleagues, or members of the public. This can create misunderstandings and make it harder for workers to advocate for themselves or seek help. Additionally, the UAE has a different culture and social norms from the Philippines, which can take time for workers to adjust to.

Systemic discrimination

Some Filipino workers may face discrimination based on nationality, ethnicity, or religion. This can be due to systemic biases within the UAE labor market or individual prejudices from employers or colleagues.

Limited access to services

Some Filipino workers in the UAE may face limited access to healthcare, education, or legal services, impacting their well-being and ability to advocate for themselves. This may be due to language barriers, lack of awareness of available services, or financial constraints.

How can Filipinos face these challenges?

It is possible for Filipino workers in the UAE to overcome these challenges in several ways:

Consult available resources for assistance

Filipino workers may seek their embassy or consulate assistance for legal, financial, and personal matters. Community organizations also offer services and support to Filipino workers in the United Arab Emirates.

Get to know the local language.

Filipino workers can learn Arabic and English to improve communication skills and increase employment opportunities. It can also assist them in navigating daily life in the UAE and understanding its culture and social norms.

Ensure that they are aware of their rights and fight for them

Filipino workers must know their legal rights and protections under UAE law. If they believe their rights have been violated, they may seek assistance from legal aid organizations.

Establish a network of contacts.

Filipino workers can establish networks with colleagues, employers, and community members to expand their social and professional circles. In addition to finding employment opportunities, they can learn about local customs and traditions and build a support network.

Ensure that family relationships are maintained.

In the Philippines, Filipino workers can maintain ties with their families through regular communication and visits. This aims to alleviate feelings of loneliness and homesickness and provide emotional support during difficult times.

Develop your professional skills.

Filipino workers can focus on their professional development by taking courses or training programs that enhance their skills and knowledge. By doing so, they may have more job opportunities and greater opportunities for advancement.

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  1. Please kindly note that UAE comprises of 7 Emirates — Abu Dhabi (the Capital), Dubai, Al Ain, Sharjah, Umn Al Qwain, Fujairah, Ajman — the laws/culture are applied to all of its members while lifestyle/health/cost of living between Abu Dhabi and Dubai are merely the same. The rest of it are in still in progress and away from the City which makes less expensive to stay.

  2. Ingat kayo dyan mga kabayan, iba ang batas sa Arab countries..pinatutupad talaga ang batas kaya lang sobrang higpit at matindi ang parusa, kaya ingat mabuti..Huwag lalabag sa batas nila, kung hindi patay kang bata ka

  3. Im bothered by this article because of a simple geographical error. Since when did Dubai didnt belong to UAE? It is part of the 7 Emirates. The author of this article should check their facts first before publishing an article.. What a shame…

  4. 8 years na po ako d2 sa UAE. karamihan sa mga pinay ay laruan lang ng ibang mga lahi, hindi nmn mo lht eh nagloloko. cguro mga 3/10 lang ang matitino. sinungaling lang ang kokontra jan sa sinabi ko.

  5. sa may balak pumunta dito sana respituhin natin ang UAE,.. esp. dubai,.. wag po tayong mag suot ng pekpek short…even-though open country,,, still muslim sila… 50% ng filipina hindi irerespito ng ibang lahi.. pls. pekpek shor

  6. # 3. Relationship Problems, I don’t agree, let us be honest, thou it is forbidden, there are many who are living-in together or who already have families back home but are having other relationships here. That’s the sad reality.

  7. one big issue I seen with the Filipino community , was the wage that was being accepted, I have many filipino professional friends who are highly qualified but accept offers that are far lower than a counterpart of a western country would accept. In addition, working jobs outside the scope of what they are qualified for …i.e. Nurse working at a coffee shop. The human resource is in a shambles and needs to be reevaluated across the GCC. they should have standards and then alot of the other issues would be something that would be a past time. relationships are pretty much tolerated in the main area of dubai and abu dhabi – gets alittle tough in the outer emirates especially fujariah and sharjah. the unmarried cohabitation all depends on your area, happens in karama and satawa everyday, really its not a big deal I think the author of this really needs to concentrate on trying to get the employers of the UAE to conform to a guideline and standard for hiring. last thing, about jobs , i have had friends not be paid for two pay cycles just because of that lack of human resource and lack of support from the consultate – it pains me to see things like this and hope that it gets better

  8. No. 3 “In order to get married in the UAE, people have to be from the same nationality and share similar religious views” – this part is inaccurate. You don’t need to belong to the same nationality or religion to marry a person. Their are process to follow, each case is different from another. But YES it is in fact allowed to marry someone from different nationality and religion.

    When we decide to visit or even more live in a particular country, not just UAE. It is a must that we prepare ourselves, read and learn about the place before even deciding to purchase the ticket. Let’s respect each others tradition, culture and government. Each country has there own set of laws and rules, it may not be perfect , sometimes it may sound silly and for sure there are exceptions, but we need to know the rules first and position yourself where you can maximized your full potential to succeed. As the saying goes “Success happens when opportunity meets preparation”


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