‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
This is the second verse of Percy Shelley’s poem ‘Ozymandias’. It’s a cautionary tale of how the once mighty can be swallowed up by the sand, with nothing to show for their great power and wealth. Their downfall brought about by hubris and the passing of time. If it seems familiar, it might be because it is rolled out every time a lazy journalist wants to write a jealous, hack-job on the rise and rise of Dubai. However, I also think it sounds a lot like the average Dubai stay of many ex-pats.
It’s very easy to become an ‘Ozy’ yourself amidst the bright lights, brunches, boats and megamalls. In our big-earning heyday, we stand atop a Zuma brunch mountain brandishing dhs500 notes screaming ‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’. Some years later we come to leave Dubai or to enter the next phase of our lives here, open up our investments and find that ‘The lone and level sands stretch far away’. I was very much on that path myself for a lot of my stay in Dubai.
I arrived in the UAE in 2005 as a fresh-faced 20-something, and I’ve seen plenty of ups-and-downs in my decade and a bit here… but the city still stands and the city still thrives. Dubai and the UAE as a whole offers a wonderful financial and lifestyle opportunity to all of us who call this place home. We have year-round sunshine – of which at least 6 months is quite pleasant. We have almost all of the creature comforts available in our home countries. And of course, we have the 0% income tax environment (it is no longer correct to say ‘tax-free lifestyle’ – if indeed it ever was).
During the gold rush days… as a 20-something with a nice tax-free salary and more dirhams than sense, I spent freely and made nearly every financial mistake in the book. Handed over money to financial advisers so they could profit – check. Bought off-plan with a local mortgage and no property to move into – check. Brand new sports car – check. Spent all my money in Barasti – what do you think? Well, now I’m older and (I like to think) a little bit wiser… I’m here to help you avoid some of those pitfalls, or at least recognize them as you dive right in.
I guess the lesson I take from our friend Ozy is not to focus on how great and majestic we look in the moment, but build something lasting with strong foundations for the future. In this blog I will focus on the practical steps you can take to build a financial foundation that will stand the test of time. Primarily we will focus on how to curb your expenses and gain extra income. However, it all starts with swallowing your pride and taking stock of your real financial situation right now.
I’ll be blogging alongside my ‘real’ job at least until I reach financial independence and sharing the everyday experiences and expenses that are designed to separate a hardworking Dubai Money Guy from his dirhams. The stories and case studies I share are personal… so I will rely on my loyal readership (probably just my wife and Mum if they have time) to add to the story by commenting or by emailing me at;
I look forward to a beautiful future of keeping our wealth out of the sand.