The author discusses how being an Emirati can actually be a hindrance when seeking a home to rent in the UAE.
In 1998, the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan was said to have been dismayed that there are UAE Nationals living in rented accommodation. His view was that all citizens should have their own homes. Almost 20 years later, many Emiratis do own homes thanks to the constant support and generosity of the government, yet those who do not are actually struggling to find a place to rent.
It has been observed that Emiratis, despite being citizens of the UAE, are “unwanted” tenants for vacant accommodation. This is true for both expatriate and Emirati homeowners who do not wish to rent out to Emiratis. Through discussions with several homeowners, it has been highlighted that the reason they do not want Emirati tenants is that they find them to be destructive towards the property and do not make payments on time. As a result of these experiences and perceptions, coupled with the fact that it may be more difficult for a homeowner to argue their case against an Emirati in a local court, it has pushed many to stop renting out to Emiratis altogether.
As an individual who has always ensured that I respect and treat any property or item that does not belong to me with care, I find it unfair that I have to be punished for the mistakes of a few bad apples. There has been more than one occasion where I have been unable to rent a home of my liking because of my nationality. In fact, I have noticed that most real estate agents will first ask the nationality before giving any further information about the property they are renting out. This makes it very restrictive for decent tenants to find a home. It is unfair that we cannot find a home based on a preconceived notion that all Emiratis are negligent of others’ properties.
I understand it is every homeowner’s responsibility to ensure that their asset is protected, but I also believe that people should not be judged on nationality alone. I also realize that homeowners may be busy with their jobs and other responsibilities in their lives, but they should devote some time in getting to know interested tenants. They don’t need to be involved with every prospective client, but if there is a serious contender, he/she should take some time out of their lives to schedule a telephone call or meeting. This can provide some reassurance of how their property will be used. It will also reduce the problems of biased selection of tenants, and more importantly, eradicate the stereotyping of individuals based on nationality alone.
There also needs to be a fair system in place to protect homeowners from negligent tenants without too many loops and hurdles. With stricter laws in place that can be easily enforced, homeowners can have the peace of mind, and tenants would also be more responsible knowing that they cannot get away with their carelessness.
Additionally, while the UAE has imposed discrimination laws to curb hatred in the country, this could perhaps be extended to other domains as well. In this case, a tenant should not be turned away for a vacant property without a fair assessment by the homeowner. While this is not a black and white solution, and there may always be certain loopholes, steps should be taken to lessen the reoccurrence of this issue.
In every race, there will be good people and bad people, and we should not be labeling any nation through the actions of only those who choose to do wrong. This will hold us back from feeling the peace and harmony that can arise from having an open mind and breaking down the stereotypes that have been built.
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi (October 2011). “How Urbanization is Changing Emirati Identity”. Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives Publications. http://www.mbrsg.ae/HOME/PUBLICATIONS/Op-eds/How-Urbanization-is-Changing-Emirati-Identity.aspx