Connie is stressed out because she is not sure whether she will get a work visa. "When I landed here, I felt very happy. It was beautiful. But as time goes by I am worried because I am not getting any work," says the Filipina.
She presently sells sweet corn at a mall on Shaikh Zayed Road, but may have to go to Iran to change her work visa. She works 12 hours at her temporary job; from 10am to 10pm. "I wake up at 7am to get to work. I return home at midnight sometimes," she said.

"I came here to work, not to relax," she says, when asked how she unwinds. "I don't have the time or money to do anything else," she said.

The Filipina's case may be extreme, but most everyone echoes her words when she says: "The rent here is killing."

Dr Ravindra Vangala, however, feels that life here is much less stressful than back home in Hyderabad, India. "Interacting with people is much easier," he says. The dentist was trying out a massage chair at a mall when approached by Gulf News.

"The traffic here is nothing (compared to his home town)," he said. But he does not have to commute to work as his clinic is in the same building where he lives. "It is much cleaner here; less pollution. I can easily get whatever I want," he said.

But one thing bothers him: he pays out almost 40 per cent of his salary for rent. "There's nothing much left (after that)," he says. The other thing is that there are too many dentists in Dubai and the patients are fewer. Both he and his wife Kavitha like mall hopping to relax.

Jordanian Marwan Mustapha came to the UAE three years ago because of the high standard of living here. "It is not just me, but everyone feels stressed," says the expatriate, who lives in Sharjah.

"I just switch on the radio and listen to the (recitation) of the Holy Quran," he says, when asked what he does to relax.

Souvik Guha points to his watch: "It's 10 (pm) now and I am still working," he says. "I have been up since 7.15am." He lives in Sharjah and commutes to his workplace on Shaikh Zayed Road. The expatriate who is in sales, says he cannot save anything from is salary. "I meditate (to relax). It's free; you just have to spend a few minutes of your time."

Pal Singh Walia, a Canadian, feels that life is much less stress-free and peaceful here compared to other parts of the world. While he says that there have been some "drastic changes" since he was here five years ago, it is still cheaper, tax-free and more advantageous to live here. "Most metropolitan cities have traffic problems," he said, adding that Dubai traffic is nothing compared to other big cities.

His wife feels that time management is important to be stress-free in Dubai. "Some people find pleasure in cooking," but she says her way of relaxing is to watch TV.

"I meditate and I pray," he says. "I would like go to a nightclub or lounge around in a pool (to relax)."

Neela Bopaiah is a stress-free person; she does not drive. "I have a licence, but the traffic is scary," she says.

Ravi Kiran, her companion, feels that he should reduce smoking. "It adds to the stress," he says and they both laugh. "Life is good here," he says, "except for the rent hikes and the traffic."