I was now teaching English in Dubai and having a blast! I loved meeting new people, learning and developing my skills further. I mostly taught in the best 5* hotels in Dubai, the best at the time anyway. The students were of different ages (18-50) and from various countries including Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and many more.
For the first time ever I was realising that inspiration is everywhere around us. I admired how much these students strive to change their lives, what they had to give up in order to support their families back home, how they struggled just to get a job in different country to earn more money or just have an opportunity to work, it was quite eye opening actually. I learned a great amount about people, different cultures, gained various training skills and I was getting to know myself again too. It was an extremely rewarding job.
Since I was only working 3 days per week, the majority of my days off were spent either on the beach or in the water park relaxing and enjoying life. If you were earning a decent amount of money the lifestyle in Dubai was great! It was all quite exciting, I could now afford to buy a nice brand new car, eat in nice restaurants etc. In my mind, I was on a yearlong holiday. I knew it wouldn’t last forever and I didn’t want it to either. Just over a year in, I started to get itchy feet. Whilst teaching was very rewarding, I also found it very repetitive. Most days I would teach the same lesson 2-3 times a day and eventually the repetitiveness got to me.
This was the first time I thought how much I’d love to have my talk-show. Since my 20s I loved watching the Oprah show. Her ability to relate to people, inspire and touch people’s lives really moved me. I remember telling my friend Michael ‘I’d love to have my own talk-show’. That was the first time I said it. I have always had a need to help people that happened to be in an unfortunate situation even if I knew I shouldn’t because I would get burnt. But I have always been really fortunate to be surrounded by people that always helped me when I needed it (thank you all!); and I guess this was one of my ways of giving back. I didn’t bother paying my ideal job much attention as I ultimately thought there was no way I could ever have a talk-show, no-one would give me a chance etc. This remained just a thought for number of years.
For a brief moment I thought perhaps I could get involved in event management as it was quite quick paced. The idea of working in real estate also crossed my mind briefly purely because I was curious to see other people’s houses J
However, with a little bit of a training background I decided I wanted to get involved in HR. I liked the idea working with people and money in HR was good too. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it or whether I had enough experience to do that. I wasn’t even sure how/where to apply. I am a big believer that if you want something you need to make it happen, no one will do it for you. It’s all about acting on it and not waiting & hoping it would come to you. With this in mind, I got my CV ready and personally went round offices dropping my CV’s off and speaking with relevant people where possible. In two days, I was hired as a HR manager for a financial company. I was now earning double to what I earned teaching English. I sold my old car and bought myself a Hummer H3. Lifestyle was great, restaurants, bars, trips etc. After few months I realised that this wasn’t the right thing for me, I found sitting in the office quite daunting and to be honest I wasn’t being productive at all. It was time for a change.
At the time, real estate in Dubai was booming which meant there were great opportunities to earn good money. My friend worked in the same building as me working for a real estate company. Through her I met her boss and got sold on becoming a sales person selling real estate. I knew nothing about real estate but it was something I had thought about a year ago so it was an easy decision; it felt right. I had no idea what being in sales involved but was promised training. I was assigned the most expensive area in Dubai at the time, Emirates Hills. They didn’t provide any training in the end thus I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Most of my day would be spent driving around the area, getting to know local residents, hoping I would bump into someone wanting to buy a house in the area. The company didn’t get many incoming queries, and I didn’t know how to approach finding new clients either. I have organised few open house viewings but as this was a luxurious area most people came just out of curiosity to see the expensive houses. And I didn’t blame them. I didn’t earn any money for about 3 months or so. But I was the happiest I have ever been, until now that is. I found an inner peace; I knew who I was, I was happy with myself, my life and loved every minute of it. Life was beautiful!
Even though I was not earning any money for some reason I was very relaxed. I believed that the money would come in soon enough and therefore didn’t stress. And I was right. I met a guy who was opening a stand in the mall for a property development company and I took the opportunity to work for him. The developer was selling off-plan investment properties. The stand was in the Mall of the Emirates. We only worked 4 hours per shift as the 4 hours did feel like a 12 hour shift and it could easily get gloomy. I was keen to work at the office in face-to-face sales, that’s where real money was made. I knew this would not happen unless I made the stand work, so I put everything to it and two months later I got the promotion. It was my dream comes true. I still didn’t know how to sell but I was genuinely passionate about the product and Dubai!
I have quickly become the best sales person and within couple of weeks I was promoted to a manager’s position. The money was fantastic. This was the highest paid job I have had to date! But I was also the most miserable. My manager and I didn’t get on very well. Understandably, I don’t think you can get on with everyone anyway; you’re bound to get on with some people more than others; we kept it professional. However, I did find him spiteful and unfair. The company was great; people in other departments were great. In our department greediness & jealousy grew; for a small department of about 7 people it was pretty intense in there. I suppose we did grow rapidly, within few weeks we have doubled in size and in the coming months the numbers increased. I couldn’t get my head around it as we were all earning amazing money; there was no need for such a bad atmosphere. I have never come across an environment like that and found it very hard to cope with. With time the relationship with my manager had gone worse. It progressed to the point where I was told on numerous occasions that I should not be friends with people from other departments otherwise I could lose my job and other similar threats! The politics were ridiculous, and to be frank I was not having anyone telling me who I can/can’t be friends with.
I was passionate about the product, loved meeting new people but didn’t enjoy the atmosphere or working with some people. I got to the stage where I would wake up in the morning and not wanting to go in. This lasted for a few months. At the same time, I just got involved in a relationship that turned out to be the worst relationship I ever had. And on top of that, I was dealing with a cervical cancer scare, had to have couple of surgeries to have some cancer cells removed. In the end, I got let go whilst recovering from one of the surgeries! I was upset but I think I was more upset about the situation I was in rather than the fact I no longer had a job. It was quite a relief not having to deal with my awful manager anymore. And I had other things on my plate I was trying to cope with. I have looked into taking them to court for unfair dismissal but the law in Dubai was not in favour of employees, at least not at the time. If I had done that it would mean that I wouldn’t be able to work elsewhere for at least 6 months until this was resolved. I basically got advised by the Ministry of Labour not to bother so I didn’t. I didn’t have the energy to fight. This would never happen anywhere else, only in Dubai!
Luckily, I saved up some money so I could pay for surgeries and be able to support myself for couple of months or so.
The next year and a half was the worst time of my life. I had been involved in an abusive relationship, completely lost my confidence, a sense of who I was. I’m not going to go into too much detail as I could talk about this for hours; perhaps I will share this experience in my future blogs.
Anyway, I have very briefly worked for my friend’s real estate company. I reluctantly took a job there as I felt I had to but it didn’t feel right. I was a manager there but also earned commission on anything I sold myself. The only problem was it took ages for the commission to be paid as we were the middle men between the developer and the buyer. To cut the story short, the people who owned the company, my ‘friends’, have decide to leave Dubai without telling anyone. They had done a runner, I’m not quite sure whether it was because they were in dept or whether there was something else. We have found out from the landlord when he told us the rent hasn’t been paid for some time and we shouldn’t be there. And ‘my friends’ phones were no longer working. I was gutted as the guys still owed me a lot of money (commission) that I so desperately needed to get out of my situation. I believe they now operate somewhere in Brazil and possibly UK. Again, this could only happen in Dubai!
I have quickly found another job in a real estate company run by three women. The women were all really good friends. I really liked working there. It was a small team of 4 people and 3 owners. We all got on well. At the same time I was breaking out from my toxic relationship and started to breathe more. By December 2009, I have completely got out of that relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I was still in a pretty f***ed up state (sorry can’t find a better word to describe it!), the lowest I have ever been. I did everything I could do to at least get myself thinking positively; I listened to self-development audios, motivational speeches etc. At this point, I was trying to earn some money to survive and pick myself back up. I was broke and in a dark place pretending to be ok.
One day, I turned up to work; I got called into the meeting room and informed they were letting me go. I was being accused of “doing deals on a side” and keeping the commission to myself which of course wasn’t true at all, and obviously they couldn’t prove it. I couldn’t believe it, all I was able to do was cry. I didn’t understand where this was coming from and it really didn’t help the situation I was in already. I had once again reached out to Ministry of Labour only to be told the same thing again. You can file the case but you will not be able to work for at least six months until it gets resolved. One of my friends has done that and it took her just over a year to resolve the case. She couldn’t work during this period. Luckily, her parents lived there too and were able to support her during this time. Unfortunately, that was not my case. There was no way I could have afforded to do that. I was done with Dubai and made a decision to leave. Few months later I learned that the three women/owners have had an argument or something and no longer have the company together. I believe in karma so I’m sure what they have done to me will come back to them one way or another. What goes around comes around!