ABU DHABI. 25th April 2010.MONEY & ME.  Mohammad Shahul at his office in Abu Dhabi.    Stephen  Lock   /  The National  FOR PERSONAL FINANCE
When Mohammad Shahul's rent increased to Dh3,000, the added expense forced him to send his wife and children back to Kerala.

I sacrifice so my family has a future



When I first came to Abu Dhabi in 1996 things were booming, but lately I've noticed how much harder it has become to earn enough money. While he was alive, my father instilled in myself and my two older brothers a sense of responsibility to look after the family. Now, things are getting more difficult. Everything costs more, I am earning less than I used to, I have my own family, and there are more responsibilities.

I have worked in the Abu Dhabi office of Al Mubarak Agro Chemicals, a UAE chemical supply company, since 1996. Over the past four years we have faced very, very low sales. The company is based in Dubai and it's kept an office in Abu Dhabi with me as the sole employee, in the expectation that something will happen. However, we haven't been able to meet expenses for a while and it looks like we will close up here soon.

My salary was good when I first moved here. But it's gone down slightly and the cost of living has got so high that comparatively it is much lower. In 2000, when things were going really well, I brought my wife and three-year-old daughter here to live. I paid Dh2,200 a month for a three-bedroom apartment, which I shared with others. My salary was Dh2,500 a month and was supplemented with extras to cover phone and other expenses. Within a year, they put the rent up to Dh3,000. I couldn't save money any more and I had to send my wife and daughter back to our home in Kerala, in southern India.

I thought it would be temporary and the prices would come down again, but in the past three or four years things have got worse. Now, I'm paid a salary of Dh2,300 and there are no extras. You see all these big, beautiful homes around Abu Dhabi, but I would say about 85 per cent of people working here don't live like that. They have low incomes and share rooms to save as much money as possible. Most people in Abu Dhabi have families back in their home country because it is so expensive to live here. The majority of workers earn between Dh1,500 and Dh3,000 a month. But a bed space, that is a space not a room, costs between Dh700 and Dh1,000 a month. To rent a room costs more than Dh3,000 a month.

We see our families maybe one month a year. So after 30 years of working, many people have just 30 months of family life. I come from a village near the city of Tirur in Kerala. I have five sisters and two brothers. I'm the youngest. My brothers are here in Abu Dhabi. My older brother has been here for 30 years. He works with Etisalat. My second brother came over in 1985 and is doing maintenance for a private company.

All our wives and families are back in Kerala. When I was growing up I felt rich. My mother came from a wealthy family and my father was a former military man. After the British pulled out of India in 1947, he was given a payout, which he used to buy a farm near the village of BP Angada. So my brothers and sisters and I grew up in a five-bedroom house on a beautiful farm growing coconuts, bananas, mangos, rice and other foods. My mother was an educated woman and made sure we were all sent to private schools.

I didn't have much use for money as a child. My parents were strict Muslims. There was no going to the cinema and we all had to be home by 6pm, even after I went to college. We prayed five times a day and read the Quran. In our region everybody was well off. Most families had someone working in the Gulf region who would send money home. My father had eight children to educate and five daughters to marry and that can be expensive. A woman's dowry includes between 40 and 60 grams of gold, plus gifts and money for the husband's family.

When I got married in 1995, I didn't take a dowry; I don't believe in it. I believe my religion tells me not to and that it is the husband's duty to look after his wife and family. A dowry is a cultural obligation not a religious one. But family obligation is strong in Kerala and if a girl is 18 she will be married and the family will get together to help pay for it. After I completed secondary school at the Tirur Comprehensive, I went to a government-run technical college for a year then returned to finish final year. It was just the way things were done over there.

When I went to college my mother made sure I always had enough money for whatever I needed. I got a motorbike and started going to the cinema. But I still had to be home at 6pm for final prayer. After completing school at 19, I got a job in a pharmacy. I wanted to get a diploma in pharmacy and help people. I saved what I could with plans to one day open my own clinic. But my father and brother didn't agree with my plans. A pharmacy degree is very expensive. So I stopped working in the pharmacy, and when I was 23 I came over to Abu Dhabi to stay with my brothers and look for a job. I was here less than 40 days when my father got sick and my mother called for me to come home.

He died three days later. He was 63 years old. It was a big shock. And I really felt then the need to earn money to help the family. Until then, it was my brothers and father who were supporting the family. Now I had to help. Six months after my father's death, I returned to Abu Dhabi and I got the job with Al Mubarak Agro Chemicals. The UAE Government was planting new forests at this time and needed agricultural chemicals, so business was very good. But now things have changed.

The Municipality has stopped using chemicals. Many people with the company have lost their jobs. I am looking at other options, and somewhere I can earn more money. I have many years of experience in sales, but my plan is to start a business in property management. I have kept an eye on rental prices in Abu Dhabi and I have lots of friends in construction, so I know when new apartments are coming on to the market.

Right now, my wife, Arifa, and our three children - daughters Shaza, 13, Nedha, eight, and our son Mohammed, who is not quite one - live at the family home looking after my mother and the extended family. Two of my sisters' husbands have died, so my brothers and I are looking after them and their children. They have five children between them. I try to send home at least Dh1,000 a month to keep the house going.

If there are medical or other expenses, I have to find more money. I spend a minimum of Dh1,000 a month here on accommodation and food and then there's phone bills, stationery and other expenses. I've bought a small piece of the family farm. No one is working on it any more. It is about 300 square feet and I built a house on it as an investment. My mother is 82 years old now and is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. She had eight children and now she really needs our protection.

We are not prepared to put her in a home; that is not our culture. We treat her ourselves, but Alzheimer's is something that money cannot help. * As told to Jane Williams

Apple's Lockdown Mode at a glance

At launch, Lockdown Mode will include the following protections:

Messages: Most attachment types other than images are blocked. Some features, like link previews, are disabled

Web browsing: Certain complex web technologies, like just-in-time JavaScript compilation, are disabled unless the user excludes a trusted site from Lockdown Mode

Apple services: Incoming invitations and service requests, including FaceTime calls, are blocked if the user has not previously sent the initiator a call or request

Connectivity: Wired connections with a computer or accessory are blocked when an iPhone is locked

Configurations: Configuration profiles cannot be installed, and the device cannot enroll into mobile device management while Lockdown Mode is on

The Word for Woman is Wilderness
Abi Andrews, Serpent’s Tail

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Muguruza's singles career in stats

WTA titles 3

Prize money US$11,128,219 (Dh40,873,133.82)

Wins / losses 293 / 149

The specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo and dual electric motors

Power: 300hp at 6,000rpm

Torque: 520Nm at 1,500-3,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 8.0L/100km

Price: from Dh199,900

On sale: now

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 201hp at 5,200rpm

Torque: 320Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km

Price: Dh133,900

On sale: now

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5

Jebel Ali results

2pm: Handicap (PA) Dh 50,000 (Dirt) 1,400m

Winner: AF Al Moreeb, Antonio Fresu (jockey), Ernst Oertel (trainer)

2.30pm: Maiden (TB) Dh 60,000 (D) 1,400m

Winner: Shamikh, Ryan Curatolo, Nicholas Bachalard

3pm: Handicap (TB) Dh 64,000 (D) 1,600m

Winner: One Vision, Connor Beasley, Ali Rashid Al Raihe

3.30pm: Conditions (TB) Dh 100,000 (D) 1,600m

Winner: Gabr, Sam Hitchcott, Doug Watson

4pm: Handicap (TB) Dh 96,000 (D) 1,800m

Winner: Just A Penny, Sam Hitchcock, Doug Watson

4.30pm: Maiden (TB) Dh 60,000 (D) 1,600m

Winner: Torno Subito, Sam Hitchcock, Doug Watson

5pm: Handicap (TB) Dh 76,000 (D) 1,950m

Winner: Untold Secret, Jose Santiago, Salem bin Ghadayer

Day 1, Abu Dhabi Test: At a glance

Moment of the day Dimuth Karunaratne had batted with plenty of pluck, and no little skill, in getting to within seven runs of a first-day century. Then, while he ran what he thought was a comfortable single to mid-on, his batting partner Dinesh Chandimal opted to stay at home. The opener was run out by the length of the pitch.

Stat of the day - 1 One six was hit on Day 1. The boundary was only breached 18 times in total over the course of the 90 overs. When it did arrive, the lone six was a thing of beauty, as Niroshan Dickwella effortlessly clipped Mohammed Amir over the square-leg boundary.

The verdict Three wickets down at lunch, on a featherbed wicket having won the toss, and Sri Lanka’s fragile confidence must have been waning. Then Karunaratne and Chandimal's alliance of precisely 100 gave them a foothold in the match. Dickwella’s free-spirited strokeplay meant the Sri Lankans were handily placed at 227 for four at the close.

The specs

Engine: four-litre V6 and 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo

Transmission: six-speed and 10-speed

Power: 271 and 409 horsepower

Torque: 385 and 650Nm

Price: from Dh229,900 to Dh355,000

'Avengers: Infinity War'
Dir: The Russo Brothers
Starring: Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Robert Downey Junior, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen
Four stars


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