200103 dirhams
Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Living in the UAE isn’t cheap. If you are used to prices back home, whether that’s in India, Egypt, the Philippines, The UK or America, you will notice that life is slightly more expensive here. It can be quite an adjustment, especially if your salary’s been cut.

The first piece of advice anyone will give you if they hear about your income decreasing, is:

Do not spend that money on anything non-essential. You should be able to survive these next few months without food delivery, online shopping or frivolous grocery expenses.

However, there are some things that you cannot live without spending on:

Groceries

• Plus! Can a family of 3 can survive Dh1,500 a month?

Rent

Energy bills

School fees

How to save money on grocery shopping

By Dona Cherian, Senior News Editor

supermarket
Image Credit: Pexels

Groceries can be pretty pricey in the UAE, but you can save a great deal if you plan properly. In our family, we used to spend just Dh630 on groceries a month. All thanks to time spent scanning offers and strategically buying items from different stores.

Have a vague weekly meal plan

You don’t need to chart out every single meal you plan on making each day of the week. Just keep in mind the kind of dishes you would make or you plan on making and pick up ingredients divided into essential daily items such as eggs or milk, with other meal-specific items such as avocados or certain herbs. Take a list with you no matter how small or big and while this is not set in stone, it helps make sure that you buy everything you need before picking up something you see in the store.

Use your loyalty card

Every supermarket chain has a loyalty program that’s free to join. Usually people forgo the process just to check out faster. Getting that card can save you some serious money (up to 30 per cent as compared to without it), especially during peak promotional times such as Ramadan.

For example, Union Co-op has Tamayaz cards (gold and silver) which give you additional discounts as compared to regular shoppers on sale days while Carrefour has Club Cards that add up points based on your purchases.

You don’t need to stock and hoard

Saving money is not always about buying in bulk and hoarding for months. You need to look at promotions as a timeline to buy certain less perishable items such as rice or wheat. If you need some rice immediately and there are no promotions, buy a kilo and wait for the promotions that will happen every month. Don’t plan to stock up the entire pantry in one go unless it seems cheaper to do it that way. Breaking up your shopping can save you money if you’re smart about where and when you shop.

Don’t throw away those brochures

Bunch of brochures on your doorstep? Take five minutes to skim through them before dumping them and you might find your favourite organic jam on an incredible offer or a meat at great prices. Three dirhams there and four here one at a time add up over your shopping trips. Stores also advertise their lowest rates in newspapers and you can usually find these promotional offers in Gulf News as well.

Don’t buy everything from one place

It is the easiest thing to do when you shop everything you need from a single store – done and dusted in a go. However, you might be paying more than you should on some groups of food by doing this. Find affordable supermarkets and hypermarkets near you that are best for specific food groups while also buying what you need. This may mean two shopping trips a week, but could save you hundreds of dirhams in the long run.

Never buy seafood from the supermarket

Fish from supermarket chains is extremely convenient but also marked up heavily. Head to the now renovated Deira Fish Market just once a month. Buy fresh seafood and freeze them in batches as soon as you get home to thaw and cook whenever you need during the month. You can even get fruits and vegetables here - so compare prices and buy if cheaper.

Frozen fish is good for at least four to six weeks and this one trip will save 40 per cent of the money you spend on buying fish every week at your local supermarket.

Fruit for sale in supermarket. The Lulu Group will shortly be adding groceries to the list of merchandise that is sold through its online portal (www.luluwebstore.com).Image Credit: Agency

Fruit and vegetable days

Some supermarkets have specific days during the week when they run up to 50 per cent off just on fruits and veggies. Stores that do this include Lulu, Shaklan and Union Co-op supermarkets. This is usually mid-week, so that loyalty card and SMS subscription is going to help you save some money. People who already have the loyalty cards gain the most during promotions.

Get more expensive fruits such as berries and plums, or imported vegetables such as zucchini and cauliflower on sale, rather than full price on these days. We also buy the fruits of the week based on sale promotions – usually apples, oranges or Chiquita bananas.

Frozen is better for your wallet

Love berries but too expensive? Get three times the berries at the same price as fresh ones in a frozen bag. These being frozen as soon as they’re plucked (allegedly) retain much of their taste and tartness when you want to use them. This also makes sure berries like strawberries, that go bad fast, need only be taken out when you need it.

Same goes for chicken – buy frozen chicken. Every week supermarkets run sales on frozen chicken – usually two for the price of one. If you prefer fresh, there are sale promos for that too – just check store Facebook pages, comparison websites and again, brochures. For example, this week you could get Dh5 savings for each kilo of fresh chicken you buy at certain supermarkets.

Look at where the veggies come from

Most supermarkets have different variants of the same vegetables, priced differently based on their country of origin. Try the cheaper ones and if you like the substitution that could save you two to three dirhams per kilo. Some budget options for vegetables are Australian carrots, Iranian or Indian onions (based on promotions) and Jordanian tomatoes.

Seasonal is good for the wallet

While we’re lucky to be in the UAE where most fruits, vegetables and protein are available year-round, seasonal produces is cheaper since it is more abundantly available. This, as can be expected, goes for fruits and vegetables. But this also works in case of fish.

A tip from my dad is to buy fish that is seasonally available. For example, kingfish being more abundant in the winter is cheaper then.

What’s in a colour?

A tiny compromise in taste and aesthetics could save you money. While red, green and orange capsicums (bell peppers) look amazing in salads and taste slightly different, your budget tip is to buy green bell peppers if you’re looking at just getting that spicy yet sweet bell pepper taste.

Same goes for certain kinds of grapes. Eggs could also fall in this category, however, the egg colours do signify a difference in farming methods. Prioritise what you need for your family and spend accordingly.

Pick the bottom row for packed foods

Want cereal, flours or sugar? Pick up the ones on the lowest row of the shelf and compare prices with the ones on your eye-level – yes, always cheaper. Packed foods are also cheaper when they’re the supermarket’s own brands. It’s the same thing, just packaged differently. We also have an entire guide on how to walk through a supermarket in the best way to save money while shopping.

Nothing fancy

There are some items we definitely ignore on our shopping trips. For example, we rarely buy cherry tomatoes – while they taste amazing and look good – the volume one gets vis-à-vis the price is not economical. Same goes for things like seedless grapes or organic arugula leaves. Buying any such ingredients would depend on specific dishes planned for the week, in addition to our essentials

Get online to find discount

Each store has a website and a Facebook page that you can follow for alerts on promotions. There are also several comparison websites and apps that can show you the best offers compiled from various stores. My mom swears by two – D4D mobile app and Pricena website while there are several others such as the ‘UAE offers’ (app).

Your money saving grocery list

Disclaimer: This is a general guide and should only be taken as such. Mentioned prices may change from and Gulf News is not responsible for any losses resulting in following these tips.

For this story, I used regular prices as seen in the first week of October so as to make it relevant for you, the reader. Bear in mind, that since these are mostly regular prices, you might get even lower amounts on your bill if you follow our tips.

Being a regular Indian family, I have listed down what we consider essentials and non-essentials. This may differ for you based on your cuisine but the major items on the list would probably remain the same – protein, grains, herbs, fruits and vegetables. While we do buy from both lists this process will give you an idea of how and where money could be saved.

Essentials

Brown rice Dh4 (5-kilo bags for four weeks)

Whole wheat flour or atta Dh5 (5-kilo bags for four weeks)

Onions Dh1.46 per kilo

Tomatoes Dh4.7 per kilo

Carrots Dh4.71 per kilo

Cucumbers Dh3.76 per kilo

Chicken Dh12 per kilo (average on fresh or frozen)

Curry powders Dh2 per week (five to six weeks)

Fish from the fish market Dh22 (Dh110 for 5 kilos of seasonal fish)

Green peppers or capsicum Dh6 per kilo

Green chili Dh1 per week (Dh4 for a kilo)

Salt Dh1 per week (Dh4 per kilo of table salt)

Lentils Dh4 per week (Dh20 for one-kg packs)

Chickpeas Dh2 per week (Dh6 for one-kg bag)

Vegetable or seed oil Dh5 per week (Dh24 for one litre)

Olive oil Dh3.75 per week (500 ml a month)

Lemon Dh5 (250gms of local lemons)

Milk or milk powder Dh12 for 2 litres of full fat fresh milk

Sugar Dh1.5 per week (Dh5 for 2.2kg store-brand)

Bread Dh10 a week for sliced bread normal

Beans Dh8 for a week

Grated coconut Dh6 per week (3 boxes a week)

Eggs Dh4 per week (Dh22 for 30 eggs)

Coriander/Parsley/Mint Dh4 per week (used within a week)

Potatoes Dh10 per kilo

Yoghurt Dh5 for one litre pack

Fruits (apple, banana, orange) Dh10 for two kilos of seasonal fruit

Total price per week Dh156.88 per week for a family of four

Non-essentials (we only buy on sale or if we need it for that week)

Fruits (grapes, pomegranate, berries, plums or avocadoes)

Nuts

Cheeses

Honey

Spaghetti and noodles

Sausages

Condiments such as ketchup or mayo

Cereal

Biscuits, cookies and treats

Peanut butter or other nut butters

Other non-dairy milk such as almond, coconut or soya

Any specific vegetables such as zucchini, cauliflower or eggplants


Extreme budget challenge: Can a family of three live on Dh1,500 in the UAE?

Budget
Budget Image Credit: Giphy

by Huda Tabrez, Senior News Editor

Wife, husband and a nine-month old girl. That was my experimental subject for a month. That is also my family.

As a working couple in the UAE, my husband and I are caught up in the same routine that probably affects many couples in the UAE: Wake up just in time to rush to work in the morning, focus on the day’s work with a constant thought in the back of your mind on how your baby might be doing, and after negotiating evening traffic come back home to spend precious end-of-day hours with your loved ones.

Sleep, wake up, repeat.

Then, one fine day, during an editorial meeting, you come up with a quirky idea - can a person live on an extreme budget? Say Dh1,500 a month?

Turns out your editors are a lot more adventurous than you have the stomach for ... why not make it for your entire family? This is how this story and experiment started.

The challenge

Walking out of that editorial meeting, I had a sinking feeling that I had walked myself into a good mess. As someone who is a self-proclaimed recovering shopaholic, this seemed near impossible.

One month later, I can confidently say, living on an extreme budget is less scary than you think.

Such a challenge forces you to re-evaluate your lifestyle and go through your expenses with a fine-toothed comb. Where is the biggest part of your salary going? Which expense is necessary and which is a luxury? You can’t get away from paying your rent, electricity bill and transport costs. However, that leaves a whole lot of expenses that are optional, which you can work on cutting down.

The process

There are certain steps that we took as a family that made the challenge more enjoyable than I had imagined. Some tips that I followed, and which might assist you in boosting your savings, are:

1. Reassess your possessions

You'll be surprised with the amount of things you have but never use

First thing I did when I started my experiment was to rummage through the refrigerator to figure out what needs to be thrown out, what needs to be consumed immediately and what can be used in the near future.

The same goes with clothes, shoes and accessories – how often do you end up buying more clothes while many are left unused? The extreme challenge meant that leisurely shopping trips came to a grinding halt and we, as a family, rediscovered what we already owned and started using them much more.

2. Small changes add up

At work, trips to the canteen for a quick tea (Dh1.50) would often lead to a spend of Dh5-Dh10 depending on how impulsive or hungry I was at that point in time and the snacks I bought additionally. The first step I took was ending the canteen trips and stocking up on tea bags, milk and sugar along with various snack options.

The cost of tea during work hours alone came down in a month, from Dh66 to Dh25. Snacks were a bigger reduction in cost. My all-time favourite chocolate bar costs Dh3.75 from the office canteen. Buying a packet of six from a hypermarket brings the price down to Dh2.50 per piece. Add to that nuts and dry fruits that you can stock up on during your trip to the hypermarket and you won’t fall off the wagon because you deprived yourself when you had that late afternoon snack craving.

Breakfast was another game changer for me. As someone who believes in catching the most sleep and waking up only until I have enough time left to shower, dress and dash, I needed a breakfast option that would fit the budget. Picking up my regular breakfast was coming up to Dh10 on a good day. If I stopped at a coffee shop at a petrol station, that bill would go up to Dh30. However, there was a hidden gem on my way to work, which I discovered when on the hunt for bargain breakfasts. The cafeteria in my neighbourhood sold an omlette roll for Dh3 (take it in a regular bread roll, or if you want something more filling, ask them to make it in a porotta) and fantastic karak chai for Dh1. This is the price offered by many cafeterias in the UAE. Take your mug along and ask them for two chais in one cup and for Dh5 you are set for the morning!

3. Meal plan

The biggest change that took place during the month was the shift from impulsive shopping to more conscious, planned purchases.

The first step we took was to put an end to eating out. Even if we did happen to be outdoors and had to have dinner at a restaurant, we hunted for the cheapest restaurant. Thanks to the quality control in Dubai, that still meant we ate food that was hygienically prepared, so there was no compromise on health.

An important part of this was towards cooking at home. For bigger families, going to the city’s fruit and vegetable market might make sense. The market offers excellent price for fresh produce, especially if you buy in big quantities.

For a family of two adults and a child, however, bulk purchases did not make sense. So, we decided to purchase fresh groceries each week from the hypermarket in the neighbourhood, with a rough idea on what needed to be cooked during the week.

Weekends became cooking days, with a few of the dishes cooked for the week. On days that we wanted something fresh, we went for simple comfort food like rice, lentil and spicy salsa.

At work, I would eat out almost every other day. My husband, who is a lot more thrifty, would spend a lot less on lunch. An average lunch outside can cost anywhere between Dh40-Dh80. This, I realised, was causing the biggest spike in my monthly expenses. On average, eating out 15 days in a month would mean a total expense of over Dh1,300. Not only was I spending a lot more eating out, we as a family were also wasting a lot of food because of not consuming consciously.

By not eating out, not only did I save a ton of money, I also ate more healthily and consciously.

4. Shopping online

There are items that I only shop for online, especially baby-related ones. Diapers can be a big expense and online stores give you an option to buy in bulk and with the particular brand I get for my little one, the cost came down by 30 per cent. The same applies for baby wipes or even baby food.

5. The tough calls

Then there were expenses that I could cut down on if I wanted to, but that would come at the cost of spending less time with my family. For example, I could find alternative routes to avoid toll gates. However, that would add an hour to my round trip. When I weighed the Dh8 I spent during a day and the hour I got to spend at home, it really made more sense to choose the latter. The idea is to shift towards being more conscious with your spending, so what might be an avoidable expense for someone else is not for you.

The same applied to getting househelp to clean up and give clothes to the laundry. Sure, you could iron all your clothes and clean up, I've done it for most of my life. However, looking at my schedule now, it makes more sense to save that time for my daughter instead.

6. The freebies

While we are programmed to think that a night out with family and friends cannot be over without spending some money, there are several ways in which you could enjoy yourself for free. An evening at the beach, an early morning park visit or simply visiting the latest attraction in your city can all be done without the need to spend any money. Just plan in advance and to steer clear of the spending traps you normally fall in. Get peckish on long drives? Make sandwiches for the trip. Love stopping at cafes for a quick coffee? Shift your trip to after dinner time so that you are full and not making decisions on an empty stomach.

The takeaway

And now for the big reveal - did I really spend the month on Dh1,500? The short answer: No, I ended up spending Dh2,800. While that might sound extremely underwhelming, here’s the catch: this was my second attempt at the experiment. Any guesses on how much I spent the first time I (unsuccessfully) tried to do the Dh1,500 challenge? Dh7,500. Now, that’s a face palm moment if there was one!

So, from indiscriminately spending throughout the month to reigning in my budget by almost 40 per cent, the change was dramatic, for me at least. And the Dh7,500 month was one in which I was keeping a tab on every tiny expense. I cannot imagine how much more I've been spending otherwise!

The takeaway, then, is this - the UAE is a great place to live and we pay a lot for little conveniences. I would encourage everyone to take on an extreme budget challenge. If not Dh1,500 then more. Or less. Pick an amount that sounds impossible enough to push you out of your comfort zone. The results might surprise you.

Tips from an expert

One of the first realisations I had when I was struggling with fitting my budget into Dh1,500 was this - so many people live on that salary. Some even less. Sharjah-based businessman K. V. Shamsudheen has made a passion out of helping workers in the UAE develop the habit of saving.

He has been conducting workshops with workers who earn Dh2,000 or less for the past 18 years. ‘No matter how much you earn, anyone can save’ appears to be his mantra.

Whenever he starts a workshop, he has a few question he asks those attending:

After you moved to the UAE or the Gulf, did your family’s lifestyle improve?

When you return home, will you be in a position to maintain the same lifestyle?

Have you seen people return home without enough financial resources, now struggling at home?

While 99 per cent of the attendees say ‘yes’ to the first question, the answer to the second question is quite often a ‘no’. It is the third question, that really hits home, according to Shamsudheen.

Take out your savings at the start of the month instead of waiting for what you are left with at the end.

- K.V. Shamsudheen, Sharjah-based businesman

“When they say yes to the third question, they realise that they haven’t really saved for themselves and then they stay for the three-hour long workshop with the same interest that they would for a three-hour film at the theatre,” he said.

The rule of thumb Shamsudheen advises people is this: Take out your savings at the start of the month instead of waiting for what you are left with at the end.

By saving before spending, there is a greater chance of being successful. As for how much one needs to save, regardless of how much you earn, Shamsudheen offers this breakdown: 30 per cent of your monthly income should be saved for the future, 30 per cent for everyday expenses or a family budget and 30 per cent for building a home for your future, or your children’s future education. When you are left with 10 per cent, keep half of that for entertainment and half for a long term insurance.

The formula to future savings

30 per cent of your monthly income should be saved for the future, 30 per cent for everyday expenses or a family budget and 30 per cent for building a home for your future, or your children’s future education. When you are left with 10 per cent, keep half of that for entertainment and half for a long term insurance.

“Even the first 30 per cent needs to be converted to an investment,” he added.

Once this formula is shared, during the workshops, Shamsudheen also educates the workers on the various options for investment in the country and in India.

Cutting costs

Starting a family budget also plays a big role in changing habits.

“Each individual has to control the expenditure within the amount that has been allocated. That is a culture we have to develop. Write down each and every expense you make in a month and put it in one of three categories - necessary, optional, luxury,” he said

As a person develops the habit of putting these expenses in certain categories, he or she can start skipping the excessive purchases. There are expenses that people don’t have as much control over - rent and education. However, Shamsudheen says that those too can be adjusted to a certain extent.

“Perhaps, shift to an accomodation that is cheaper. Similarly, if your children are studying in a school with high fees, to control your expenditure find a school with reasonable fees and a good quality of education. There are options.

“In my experience, this formula is extremely easy for anyone to follow. All segments and income categories can do this perfectly,” he said.


How to negotiate your rent

1.1282531_2813068800

By Esha Nag, Property Weekly Editor

Landlords are yet to go in for full-scale rent waivers or rent-free extensions to ease their tenants’ pain following the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent impact on all layers of the economy. But here's what you can do to try and save some money on your rent.

Always check your contract

Relief could come to tenants if they go through their tenancy contracts. If there is a mention among the clauses of a “force majeure” sort of situation, then could initiate talks with their landlords by invoking that clause.

It applies to situations where forces outside of people’s control impact on their prospects and financial situation. A pandemic certainly qualifies as a force majeure situation.

According to John Peacock, Head of Indirect Tax and Conveyancing at BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem and Associates, if residents are unable “to make payment of rentals due to a lack of income resulting from the forced closure of a business or a loss of salary as an employee, they should analyse the relevant contract, which may provide for both force majeure and hardship events.

“Should the contract however not make provision, the affected party may wish to consider the provisions of Federal Law No. 5/1985 (Civil Transactions Law).”

Article 249 of the Civil Transactions Law provides that a judge may, to a reasonable level, order a modification of a “burdensome obligation” if instigated by “public exceptional unpredictable circumstances, making the execution of the contracted obligation, if not impossible, burdensome to the debtor.

”In other words, when circumstances force constraints on the financial situation of the tenant. And many are finding themselves in just such a situation.

There are thousands of people just like you

There is a demand for residential rent relief keeping in mind the temporary and permanent salary cuts and job redundancies.

Employers are yet to take such drastic action, even though many have been sounding out their workforces. Elaine Jones, Executive Chairman of Asteco Property Management, said, “We do not expect rental waivers as such for residential property, but there may be revised payment plans.

Tenants must refer to their employers for rental support. “Some landlords can and will help, but the resident should first address [the issue] with their employer.” Landlords might not be ready to renegotiate rent, as rents had dropped substantially in the last two years and tenants have had that benefit.

How to save on your energy bills?

Light bulb, generic
Photo for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Pixabay

By Yousra Zaki, Senior Features Editor

Your home is one of your biggest expenses. Here's how to save on your energy bill, especially since we are getting closer and closer to hot UAE summers. 

Light and electricity

1. I know it sounds counterintuitive to tell you to buy new lightbulbs but if possible, purchase a few LED for your most frequently used lights. They have a longer lifespan and are very high-energy efficiency compared to equivalent lamp and tubes. You will notice a drop in your electricity bill.

2. Ideally don’t switch on any light on during the day. Use your windows.

3. Never have any lights on when you aren’t using them.

4. If you have lights in your home that need to always stay on, then use the lowest-wattage bulbs. These 15-watt bulbs reduce energy usage by 80 per cent.

5. Clean your light bulbs regularly, as dirt limits diffusion of light and decreases illumination.

Electric appliances

1. Use your microwave over your oven whenever possible, as this saves so much more energy.

2. Plan ahead and cook more things at the same time. To save time and energy, when you have to use your oven, cook more than one item at a time.

3. Choose the right pans. Use flat-bottom pans for best contact with the heat, with tight-fitting lids to keep the heat in the pan.

4 Use your kettle to boil water. Boiling water in your kettle before putting it into the pot means you need less high heat to get the water hot. A kettle heats water in around 3 to 4 minutes, while pot on a stove takes about 10 to 12 minutes.

5. Less and small is more. Use small cooking appliances (electric fry pans, toaster ovens, etc.) whenever possible.

6. Keep your AC at 24 degree Celsius. That is the most cost effective option in the UAE. And make sure your air-conditioning unit is set to “auto” rather than the “on” mode, as this will regulate the room temperature more effectively.

7. Don’t just switch off your appliances when you aren’t using them, actually switch off the power or unplug them to eliminate standby use.

8. Wash your clothes at 30-40C only. That will help keep your electricity bill in check. Also, don’t press “go”’ until you have a full load.

How to save money on water

1. Switch off the water now. You really don’t need to have that on right now, since the weather is getting warmer and warmer. If you need hot water to bathe, switch it the heater on just 20 minutes before you shower, so that it’s not on all day.

2. Showering faster. Don’t take any baths during this time. When you do take showers try and cut down on the time standing under running water.

3. Turn off the tap as much as you can, when brushing your teeth or shaving, you can save more than 5 gallons per day.

Q&A about Dubai utility bill discounts

By Sajila Saseendran, Senior Reporter

Dubai residents received a big relief when the government last month announced a Dh1.billion stimulus package to reduce the cost of living and doing business in the emirate.

Q. What’s the time frame for the 10 percent cut in water and electricity bills?

A. The discount will be applicable on bills issued after March 12, 2020 for a period of three months.

Q. Will it be a reduction in the total bill which includes the housing fee which is levied by Dubai Municipality? Or will it only be applicable to the consumption charges of water and electricity?

A. The discount of 10 percent is applicable on electricity and water consumption only from March 12, 2020 for three months. It is not applicable on housing fee.

Q. How about the fuel surcharges? Will that also be discounted?

A. Yes, 10 percent discount is applicable on fuel surcharge also.

Q. Which consumers can benefit from this discount?

A. All Dewa customers in Dubai, including residential, commercial and industrial sectors will benefit.


Saving on your UAE School Fees

NAT-SCHOOL-FEES-ILLUSTRATIVE-ONLY222-(Read-Only)
Many schools in Dubai have measures in place to mitigate the stress on parents who are struggling financially. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

By Dona Cherian Senior News Editor, Samihah Zaman Staff Reporter and Faisal Masudi Senior Reporter

Last month UAE Ministry of Education, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge and Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) - urged education providers to offer tuition discounts and other forms of relief, as they were anticipating pandemic-related economic hardship.

However many UAE schools have still not announced blanket discounts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

We wish there was an easy way to tell everyone what to say or how exactly to save on their school fees, but this depends from school to school.

Some education providers, like Taaleem for example, have announced discounts on fees for the third term in its schools. The move is designed to provide immediate relief to parents facing financial challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak. They’ve announced the term 3 fees will be discounted across the entire Taaleem portfolio of schools in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which includes 25 per cent discounts on Foundation and Kindergarten fees, 20 per cent discount for Primary/Elementary School fees and 20 per cent on Secondary School fees.

While other schools like GEMS have offered financial Relief Package to parents if they can prove they’ve been financially hurt by the global pandemic. As of last week, Gulf News reported that parents of over 10,000 students will be benefiting, to various degrees, from GEMS Education’s financial relief package even amidst calls for a blanket discount for all parents of the school group.

One parent who has two children enrolled in GEMS schools alleged that his application for relief had been rejected despite job loss.

Ideally, if you are struggling and don’t mind showing your school proof of hardship, then go ahead and get in touch with your child’s school. It is better to be proactive with these situations, rather than wait. The more parents step forward, the more you might be able to have a positive outcome.