#MyGrationStory of a Filipino living in Dubai.

This is the brief story of a Filipino migrant living in Dubai, Unites Arab Emirates.

532727_507835405930177_1132820767_nI used to pass the kiosk of the famous chain SMS Restaurant and Confectionary at Al Rigga Station (They sell cakes, snacks and meals at metro stations of Dubai) every day. The affordable Mayfair Hotel in Dubai where I stayed for 3 days was close to Al Rigga, so my day used to start and end at the Al Rigga station. I visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi during Ramadan which meant, I could not consume food and water in public till evening, usually around 7 p.m. The sight of samosas stocked in the kiosk was irresistible after a long day of exploring the city, fueled by closeted consumption of food and water.




Cheryl from Philippines selling snacks at SMS Restaurant and Confectionary at Al Rigga Station. I shot this on my last day in Dubai.

The kiosk sold tempting Indian food such as samosa, kachori, curries etc. I was addicted to their huge and delicious samosa. I would break my forced fasting with a samosa every day. I later learnt it is owned by an Indian, hence the authentic taste.


Consumption of Food and drinks are not allowed in Dubai during fasting in Ramadan. At kiosks and restaurants, it is covered with a cloth as seen in this picture. One is allowed to buy a take away though. Cheryl from Philippines selling snacks at SMS Restaurant and Confectionary at Al Rigga Station. I shot this on my last day in Dubai.

Repeated visits to the kiosk resulted in building a rapport with the kiosk attendant, Cheryl Laggui, a Filipino girl who would go out of the way to serve the customers with a sunshine smile. On the last day, I couldn’t help but strike a conversation beyond hellos.


Cheryl, second from left (top) with her colleagues in her previous job. Story of a Filipino migrant in Dubai (Pic: Cheryl Laggui)

She was busy as usual handling the shop single handedly. When I requested to talk to her, she readily agreed with her ever ready smile.

Below are the excerpts of our conversation


When not working, she catches up with her teddies. Just like any other girl her age. Story of a Filipino migrant in Dubai (Pic: Cheryl Laggui

Me, “How many years you have been working in Dubai?”

Cheryl, “I am from Manila, capital of Philippines. In Dubai, going 8 years. Before I am working in Abu Dhabi for 3 years, then I transferred here in Dubai. Same business; food business. Too much Filipino people here.  Because here you saw so many Filipino, so it feels like home. (sic)”


Me, “ Do you miss your home in Manila?”

Cheryl, “ I live here with friends. I have no family here. I am friends with people of Philippines as well as other countries. I don’t miss home much. You know there is internet so you feel connected. “ (sic)


Once in 2 years, Cheryl visits her family in Philippines. Story of a Filipino migrant in Dubai (Pic Cheryl Laggui)

Me, “So How long are you planning to stay in Dubai?”

Cheryl, “Maybe after I finish my contract here? I don’t know if we have to renew, it depends upon the company.”


Me, “So how often do you go to Manila?”

Cheryl, “Once in 2 years, I go home. The company gives us a free return ticket every 2 years. Besides, I am very busy here. I work 9 hours daily and I have once a week off. “


Cheryl, third from left with her colleagues in her previous job. Story of a Filipino migrant in Dubai (Pic: Cheryl Laggui)

Me, “When do you plan to return to Philippines forever?”


Cheryl, “I am not married yet. I am not sure if I would want to go back to Philippines even after marriage. Because you know the salary here is good rather than Philippines. “


I could barely talk to Cheryl for 5 minutes when a customer showed up at her kiosk. She’s busy, hardworking and knows how to stay cheerful under pressure. She quickly but politely tears herself away from the conversation and takes the order. This quintessential Filipino quality makes them one of the largest migrant communities in Dubai along with Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans.


Cheryl. Story of a Filipino migrant in Dubai (Pic: Cheryl Laggui)

Out of approximately 7,00,000 Filipinos who work in UAE, 4,50,000 live and work in Dubai alone representing 21.3 % of Dubai’s population. At 7.8 million migrants, UAE had the fifth-largest international migrant population in the world. Filipinos in Dubai work in the field of construction ,telecommunications , real estate, retail, design engineering ,hospitality, architecture, cargo shipping, energy, IT industry, marketing, medicine and even as domestic helps.


Cheryl, second from left with her colleagues in her previous job. Story of a Filipino migrant in Dubai (Pic: Cheryl Laggui)

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11 thoughts on “#MyGrationStory of a Filipino living in Dubai.

  1. Fascinating post! I didn’t know that food had to be covered in shops during Ramadan. I also had no idea that there are 7 million Filipinos working in Dubai! That must be a fairly recent development, as I don’t recall seeing that many Filipinos there in 2008.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Before coming to Dubai I was not knowing much about Filipinos. But after living here I really love their smiling attitude. I don’t know whether they get angry also as I always see them smiling and never tired. That is why they are most wanted here as they are very much customer friendly people. Here they are mostly occupying front desk jobs. Great write up about the life of people who are involved in our daily lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting post. I know there a lot of Filipinos living in Dubai along with many people from South Asia. I’ve heard a lot of heartwarming stories about some fellow Sri Lankans living there, too. Kudos to her amazing hardworking ability and always treating customers with a smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is always interesting to see why people choose to leave their homes and how they start new ones. Fortunately, we have the internet these days to stay connected if we miss people. It’s encouraging to know one can build a life somewhere else if they want.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. After travelling for months in the Philippines I have to admit recognise some culture expects here. The photo with the teddy bears is great, it tells a lot. Once in 2 years going home, that is a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like you are fairing well in Dubai. I am sure you miss some of the aspects of where you are from but never hurts to take the plunge and go on a new adventure!! Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The story is touching. It’s like someone’s heart is poured out here. I know people like her who have to even leave their families apart and travel to far off places like Dubai in search of better income. That , for once, makes me feel the world is also a harsh place to live in.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting post. Loved reading about the life and times of the Filipino migrant. I am always fascinated to read stories about people who migrate to other countries in search of opportunities. I always associate a strange pathos with such stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This story reminded me of my many Phillipino friends in UAE. They sure were a cheerful lot and very hard working too. Like us, they too had moved here for better prospects. They are also very polite people and it is just that which makes them so attractive and charming. Well captured through this tale

    Liked by 2 people

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