You might remember that a while ago Dubai was thrust into the spotlight for owing some money.
I don’t just mean a maxed-out credit card amount-of-money after too many trips to Karama to buy handbags.
I’m talking serious money – some US$80-billion-worth of debt, according to the press.
For a city used to the heady heights of economic success, it was a massive reality check.
Much of the construction work stopped and schemes such as a refrigerated beach where the sand would never get too hot underfoot and a man-made archipelago of 300 islands in the shape of a world map ground to a halt.
That wasn’t all: A theme park to dwarf Disney and an 80-storey skyscraper with revolving floors and an ever-shifting shape also never came to fruition (Dubai thinks big, you see, so a debt crisis the size of China was hardly surprising).
While things are certainly on the mend now thanks to some clever restructuring by accountant types, I’m not convinced that everything is rosy again though.
I say this because, for the first time in 15 years of freelancing, I’ve just come a cropper at the hands of the publishing company I’ve been working for recently.
They haven’t been paid themselves by advertisers (including the Abu Dhabi government!) and, as a result, their money’s dried up and they can’t make payments – for my last three months of work!
And, even worse, because I introduced one of my loveliest friends to the company, she too is owed thousands of dirhams for work she lost sleep over while doing some mummy juggling.
I knew something was wrong when they started stonewalling me every time I tried to chase our money. Then came the email, essentially saying, “Have a nice day – without the pay!” Then, finally, the phone call to tell me the sorry story.
What also bothers us is that, at some point, they maybe knew we were working for free – and when you’ve got two kids to entertain, mouths to feed, grocery shopping to do and errands to run, ‘work experience’ isn’t exactly helpful with the whole work-life balance thing. I mean, do we look like eager, just-out-of-college interns? Do we? No, I don’t think so!
If they’d looked closely, they’d have seen a few crinkles round my eyes and a child clinging to my leg.
I won’t name and shame, because I’m really hoping they’ll stick to their promise to pay us eventually, when the cash starts flowing again, but I’m not holding my breath.
Keep your fingers crossed for us! My BF is coming soon (so excited!) and we’ve got shopping to do.