Dubai/Abu Dhabi/ Fujairah: With all the various news in the media about traffic and rent, what really matters most to the public?
New rules concerning shared accommodation, the national identity card and breast cancer awareness drives have recently been highlighted by the authorities, as these issues concern residents in all the emirates.
In a recent Gulf News poll, the most topical issue for 62 per cent of respondents was rent, 17 per cent said traffic, 6 per cent said health, 5 per cent said education, 3 per cent transport, 2 per cent food, and the remaining 5 per cent said none of the above.
City Talk took to the streets and asked residents what is the most relevant issue to them, whether the authorities have improved the issue recently, and if it should be highlighted more by the media.
Grahem Paulsen, a sales representative from South Africa, 27, said: "The rent is a killer here. When people arrive here for the first time, they are shocked to find it so high. The rents should be stabilised because there are places where 15 people live in one bedroom. I think that people should be able to have a decent job with decent accommodation, and the rents should be cheaper by two thirds of the original prices."
Mohammad Ebrahim, from Egypt, 33, said: "Food and health care are both important to ensure your survival. I do however feel that the media should speak more about humanitarian issues such as starvation, healthcare, education and transport issues across the world, so people would get a clearer picture about what's really going on. The media focuses more on local issues, which are not as important as issues such as the starvation and drought problem in Africa."
Grace Morena, a Filipina Secretary at a hospital, 38, said: "Education and medicine are two extremely important issues which should keep being highlighted by the press. I am not against repetition about certain topics; on the contrary, our busy lifestyles need constant reminders about things."
Lasantha Kannaagara, a bank clerk from Sri Lanka, 33, said: "The most relevant issue to me is finding a suitable accommodation and the traffic. Since buses are not easily available, people become motivated to buy their own cars. There should be more options available in the public transport system."
Sumaya Viethen, who works in marketing and is from Germany, 38, said "Rent has improved for landlords since they have gotten more profit out of it than recent years, but the high costs are definitely bad for consumers. Even though the government have build new infrastructure, traffic is becoming worse each year. When I first arrived here five years ago, there were fewer cars, less people, thus less traffic. It takes people up to two hours to get to their work in the morning and that leaves them frustrated and inconsiderate on the road. The media plays a good part in highlighting some of those issues, but I feel the quality of media is not as good as in Europe."
Saif Obaid Moaili, an Emiri Court official from the UAE, 45, said: "Education for me is an issue which should be at the forefront of our collective attention and I do not think it is. It is the most important issue because it affects us all; not just with our individual families but as a society which is ultimately responsible for the building of well-balanced and contributing citizens. I feel that the media does not cover the important aspects of our education system and only gets interested during exam periods and then their coverage is predictable and cosmetic and does not explore deeper issues such as resources and teacher's support."
May Mystica, a sales executive from the Philippines, 30, said: "The main issue that affects me the most is the lack of available accommodation and the rent. I am sharing a villa with my friends and managed to work it out with the landlord. There should be a limitation on what the rents should be, because we are paying Dh2,500 for a room. It will be fairer if our salaries increased at the same rate of the cost of living and the rent, as there is not a proper balance."
Fat'hi Khaleel Qasim, an Egyptian driver, 39, said: "My biggest concern is a common one which is the rising living costs which includes everything from food and cloths to rents. I think for most expatriates, that is the one thing which is making life a bit difficult. The government talks about it enough, but the reality of the situation on the ground is that, despite all the talk, costs are still rising. I suppose it is a worldwide phenomenon, so it is difficult to see how we can deal with it since the private sector can not be pressured to raise salaries in line with inflation."