Monday, December 29, 2008

Expats Prefer Sending Money Home over New Year Bash

Expats Prefer Sending Money Home over New Year Bash
Lily B. Libo-on KT photos by Mukesh Kamal 29 December 2008

DUBAI - In normal times, expatriates here would have loved to celebrate the New Year.However, these are not normal times. The impact of the recession on the UAE has made them think twice before spending their hard-earned money on festivities.

So, they are sending money home.

Lorie, a 25-year-old Filipino, is living with her entire family in Sharjah. But, she said her family took a painful decision of not celebrating the holiday 
season. “We always celebrate Christmas and New Year. But, two of my brothers have lost their jobs due to the economic crisis creeping into the UAE companies. We need to save a lot for the coming days. We have to send money home for their young kids to continue schooling. This is a bad year for us.”

Daya, a 50-year-old Sri Lankan expatriate who has been working in Dubai for 14 years, says she would forego her usual annual buying of new clothes and jewellery for the New Year celebration.

“I will not even celebrate by preparing food for friends and families because my husband is down with cancer. He has been in the hospital for the past three months. I am on my way to my brother’s house to pass on medicines and cash to be hand-carried to Sri Lanka by his mother-in-law. My husband needs this more than the exotic food and new clothing,” she said tearfully.

She spoke highly of her Indian employers because of their understanding of her situation.

They increased her salary and, even bought her medicines. “I am so thankful I have this kind sponsor,” she added.

Mohammed Hassan, 31, said he preferred to send money to his family back home.

“Even if I wanted to celebrate, I could not do it. My family needs the money more than me. What is the use of celebrating if your family will be starving back home? This is not the time to buy new clothes and excellent food to celebrate. Things have changed. Food is costly now. Rents are rising. I have to save,” he stressed.

Similarly, Wiji, 50, said his family back in Sri Lanka always celebrate the New Year by going to the Buddhist temple, preparing food for friends and families, and buying new sets of clothes to wear specially on New Year. “But, here, it is not important anymore because my family is not with me,” Wiji said.

Daya, Hassan, Wiji and Lorie belong to different backgrounds and traditionally, they celebrate New Year. But, now, all are in unison saying, family comes first, before celebration.

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