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Covid: How UAE residents are dealing with job losses and pay cuts

James Jose /Dubai
james@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 25, 2021 | Last updated on July 25, 2021 at 11.47 pm
Photo (for illustrative purposes): AFP

With mental health issues on the rise, Khaleej Times spoke to three residents on the problems they're facing.


UAE residents seeking help for mental health issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is on the rise, doctors have said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had last week said that anxieties around virus transmission, the psychological impact of lockdowns, and self-isolation have contributed to a mental health crisis, along with stresses linked to unemployment, financial worries and social alienation.

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>> Covid-19 in UAE: Stress, burnouts, depression on the rise

Khaleej Times spoke to three residents who are navigating through some serious issues linked to job losses, pay cuts, and at-home stress.

‘I lost my job and my marriage is on the rocks’

Madhavan* is desperately searching for a job, with mounting bills to pay. With his wife being the sole breadwinner at the moment, they have sent their two little children, aged seven and five, back home to live with their grandparents.

“I had faced a salary cut earlier due to the pandemic. Then, I was forced to resign from my job,” said Madhavan, who had joined his new job last October, but quit in May.

“We have a lot of commitments like rent, school fees, credit card payments, personal loan and other utility bills to pay. And because of all these, it has been a stressful time to run a family. We couldn’t afford to pay the school fees for the kids, so we sent them back home in February. They are now staying with their grandparents and going to school there,” he adds.

The 46-year-old revealed that matters have become so bad that he and his wife, whom he had married following a “beautiful courtship”, have constant arguments.

“I have been job hunting since then, but with no luck. I have been getting interview calls, but nothing positive is happening. Age also is a factor. So, the stress has added to it since I don’t have a job, children are back in India, and there are all these other commitments. My wife and I have been having regular arguments – almost bordering on separation,” Madhavan said.

‘I am still reeling under a pay cut’

Edwin* has been working from home since last April. He had to take care of his wife and seven-year-old daughter with just 15 per cent of his salary after facing a pay cut.

Edwin said that the reduced salary and the long working hours are getting to him, but he has “somehow managed to retain" his sanity.

“I’ve been working from home since last April. My wife, too, has been working from home and I have to put in long working hours,” said Edwin.

“I received only 15 per cent of my salary from April to October last year. The pay gradually increased to 50 per cent and now, I get about 80 per cent,” he said.

‘Despite fear of being stranded, I sent my family home’

Mohammed* was forced to send his wife and two kids back to India because his better half was on the verge of a burnout. He did this despite the fact that they could get stranded due to the India-UAE travel suspension.

“Despite the ongoing flight suspension between India and the UAE, I sent my wife and kids back home. The thing is, for the last one year, my kids have been e-learning, so my wife was stressed out and experiencing burnout because I would be away at the office and she had to manage two children in school.

“They were in different schools and different grades — one is in Grade 2 and the other in KG1. So, both entailed completely different responsibilities and she had to shuffle between both of them constantly during their school hours. I could make out that she was completely stressed out and she needed this break. So, just before the summer break, I sent them home.”

Mohammed is unsure when he will be able to see his wife and children next.

“I’m not very sure when they can come back but I took that chance because I just wanted her to take a break. It has been really stressful for her. Even after school hours, she would have to sit with them to help them with their homework and other extracurricular activities, etc.

“So, despite knowing that they might get stranded, I took that chance. It was a conscious decision so that she could be in a good mental space,” he said.

(*Names of residents have been changed to protect their privacy)

James Jose





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