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Al Mirfa in the UAE

Al Mirfa in the UAE

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Old Jan 11th 2017, 5:28 pm
  #76  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

Originally Posted by Az84 View Post
Thanks Millhouse, I decided to fill out the etihad rail form out. Lets hope it gets somewhere. Also looking at train driver positions in Abu Dhabi. Metro seems a little off to me, rather stick to mainline
Metro is driverless mate.

I'm a bit surprised that they would employed expensive western drivers in Abu Dhabi on a freight line - although people have gone and tried it...And hated it I believe. Eyes wide open made and trust no one.
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Old Jan 12th 2017, 6:52 am
  #77  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

I lived in Mirfa for several years (not working with Etihad Rail) and quite enjoyed it. Facilities are minimal but it's a quiet town with a nice beach. If you enjoy fishing it is fantastic and that is a popular local past time. Though it is small (it has about 15,000 people) it is spread out so you will need a car to get around (there are no taxis - the Mirfa Hotel might be able to arrange a driver for you, but not with regularity, and they charge a fortune). It is about 90 minutes from Abu Dhabi which is where we did all of our supermarket shopping (there is a co-op in town but it is not well-stocked - think of it as maybe a 1/3 supermarket - and is geared towards non-Westerners). There are also a few restaurants in town that do takeaway kebabs and biryanis at very good prices, though again these shops are geared towards the Local/Arab Expatriate/Subcontinent Expatriate population (no problems with Westerners going there but you might find it difficult to understand the menu/communicate to place an order). The Mirfa Hotel also has a restaurant but it is extremely expensive for what you get. The sports facilities at the Mirfa Hotel are also open to the public (for a membership fee) and are used by townspeople. Mirfa itself is a fairly new town - it was built around 1980 and I knew people there that remembered seeing it be built - and the locals there are not Bedouins, most of them and their families originated from islands in the Gulf (so they are fishermen and in the day were pearlers). A lot of Emiratis in the cities have beach houses, not in Mirfa, but in some of the villages near there.

I thought it was a nice place and I preferred Al Gharbia to the cities.
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Old Jan 12th 2017, 8:36 am
  #78  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

For the benefit of my esteemed railway colleagues thinking of giving the ME a go:

Yes there are drivers' jobs on Dubai Metro, all OTP stuff: grinders, tamper, MPVs, Unimog. Driver recruitment is mainly from the Philippines so the salaries wouldn't be of interest to those with UK experience. The passenger rolling stock runs full ATO and ATC so is only driven manually in emergency mode via pop up panel, by a Train Attendant or whoever. There are also driving jobs on Dubai Tram (all Citadis fleet), but again salaries are low by UK standards.

The O&M contracts for Dubai Metro are held by Serco. Client is the RTA, who have their own Ops, Maintenance, RROW, QHSE etc departments that get involved hands-on. With UK ops experience, if Dubai were your target then look at getting into either Serco or RTA at management level. Serco front line salaries are not much cop as a Westerner but their management packages are excellent. RTA pay less well than Serco for recent hires but still okayish (oil price is having an effect on government sector wages for new starters, so proportionately more now coming in from Subcontinent than before). That's the story for the ops side on both Metro and Tram, plus Metro maintenance. The Tram maintainer is an Alstom-led consortium: good employer, helps if you speak French.

Etihad Rail DB out in Mirfa run an all EMD heavy freight fleet plus again OTP, including a sand plough which might be fun. Management team is Anglo-German with a top-dressing of Emiratis. The O&M side hasn't been subject to the same cuts that the planning side in Abu Dhabi went through so there are still opportunities, on decent money. There were a load of Toton blokes seconded over there a year or so back so worth hooking up with them to get the first-hand down and dirty (and sandy).

Serco-Freightliner-Network Rail Consulting hold the O&M contract for the Saudi North-South, which is mainline freight and passenger. Much more restrictive than Mirfa, and several ongoing teething issues on the project according to colleagues; maybe if the money was right I'd still give it a go though.

Oman going ahead with their heavy rail but not built yet.

Qatar and Saudi have several metro and light rail projects underway, nothing running yet, expect scaled-up but similar versions of what's in Dubai.

Bahrain is threatening light rail but a paper project only, thus far.

If the construction side is more your bag, there are the ongoing projects mentioned above plus Route 2020 in Dubai and Cairo Metro expansion (Hill International) to look at.
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Old Jan 12th 2017, 1:20 pm
  #79  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

PS I've had several PMs asking about salaries at Etihad Rail DB. I'm sorry but I'm unable to give you any specific information other than the following. Anything else would be speculation on my part and ergo potentially misleading.

I pressed several of the Etihad Rail DB management team for salary info when I was last there. All to a man were extremely cagey about revealing information. I drew a total blank other than that salaries may be proportional to what you were making back home before you came.

In the glory days when ER Phase 2 was going ahead, expat engineers working out of Abu Dhabi were reported to be making AED 65k a month plus accommodation. Most of them have now lost their jobs.

Mid-senior level Senior Specialists/Chief Engineers joining the rail side of RTA 2-3 years ago with 15 years minimum experience were getting AED 45k/month, no extras. That was less than their equivalents at ERDB and Serco. With belt tightening, that figure's now been capped at around AED 30k/month and the flow of Western expats has consequently dried up. Indians and Pakistanis continue to lap it up.

The DBS TO freight crews that came over to Mirfa on secondment were continued to be paid their UK salaries (and charged UK tax), plus forced to pay for their own accommodation in Mirfa/Abu Dhabi when not on duty, in addition to their mortgages back home. I doubt many hung around on that package.

As a general rule (though not 100% applied), Western expats will be paid more than their Subcontinental/Filipino/African equivalents. That applies ME-wide and is just the way it is. Some might argue that there is merit in this given differing standards of education and the ability/willingness of individuals to stand up, be counted and make a decision. Others might say it's racism. Others might say it's somewhere between the two. At least one major Western organisation I know will win work putting in a Western team, then once the job's bedded in, replace many of them with cheaper non-Western labour and use the original team members for new bids/projects.

If you're still thinking of coming out, I would personally say that as a bare minimum, calculate the value of your entire gross package pre-tax, add 30%, add in accommodation, and if they can't match that then walk away. Others will have their own view on that, both within and outwith rail. I certainly wouldn't even think about leaving a UK job for the AED 30k/month figure above, given I would already have the experience to be attractive to ME recruiters in the first place.

Good luck.
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Old Jan 12th 2017, 1:50 pm
  #80  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

Standanista - That's some great info there for anyone in the rail industry. Do you have any insight on Hyperloop? I assume it's all just talk and will never happen?

The salary calcs are a bit of a shock to me and to others and to me I am sure.

My offer base was the same as the UK salary after tax. Accom and other allowances were the compensation for making the move / higher cost of leaving. Not a great deal - but like others I took it for the lifestyle (well actually more in my case it was that my wife wanted to move to a hot country for a bit).

I can see if you're not in a big city like Dubai or Abu Dhabi then it would take more money to compensate for making the move.
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Old Jan 13th 2017, 2:53 am
  #81  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

This is certainly a roll-back time in the UAE. In my own sector - which as I mentioned was not rail - the planning and budget on big projects were made a decade ago and based on the assumption that oil would climb to $150 per barrel and stay at that price - as a minimum. So, obviously . . . there are problems now.

If other sectors made that assumption too - look out below.
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Old Jan 13th 2017, 3:07 am
  #82  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

PS Dominoman - though I'm in a different sector I was also shocked at the salary calcs. My sector is similar to what you mentioned, though I do know people who made it into the 40s/month. However, base salaries were roughly the same after tax with "perks" like accommodation thrown in. There was a bonus for living outside the big cities but it wasn't much. The big advantage of being in the UAE is that you can save a whole lot more (providing you budgeted wisely and did not get caught up in out-doing other expats).

However prior Middle East experience can be worth its weight in gold to employers/recruiters there. I would not go back now, on the same package I was on.
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Old Jan 13th 2017, 10:42 am
  #83  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

The big money in ME rail that was around in 2014 has certainly disappeared. Some of the salaries being touted for Ops/Safety/Maintenance Director jobs in the bids for Saudi projects were in excess of AED 100k/month plus accommodation, flights and other trimmings. Obviously you still have to get those figures past the client. A Saudi "gatekeeper" consultancy (= wasta) supplying engineers and ops people to a government department was offering SAR 87.5k/month all in. A lot of that work was put on hold when the King died and the salaries then slumped with oil and gas prices; I was approached again about the same job months later but the figure had fallen to SAR 55k.

The "is it worth it" calculation is just my finger in the air figure. I'd be interested to see what others would use themselves. But when you look at what life in a management role on an operational railway is like out here (I've no doubt O&G and aerospace etc are similar), you need some decent bucks for it to be worth the effort. 24/7 on call working in the public sector so forget enjoying the highlights of the Dubai/Abu Dhabi social scene, no concept of duty rosters or extra cash, expected to show up at every incident, and the Gulf idea of what constitutes a significant incident is very different to what we would be used to in the West; basically anything with the potential to affect reputation, including with other departments of the same organisation, who may have shown up to a minor breach of safeworking occurrence at 2am on a Friday morning when you didn't (= bollocking from he on high in the white dishdash the following Sunday morning). Ah the joys of the Middle East.
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Old Jan 13th 2017, 11:38 am
  #84  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

Dominoman: I think you're right on Hyperloop. Their main bloke did a presentation at the Middle East Rail show in Dubai a while back and to be fair it looked great in theory but it's a big leap from a proof-of-concept test track (test tube? - I'll get mi coat) to a fully operating system carrying live passengers with a solid safety case. The RAMS work on it would have the engineering community cashing in for years. I can only imagine what would happen if it broke down in the middle of August with folk in it (not unlikely given the precision engineering standards to which Kerala labourers on AED 650 a month are known to work). The other obstacles are cost (probably the biggest) and getting the AD-Dubai cross-border regulation sorted, which still hasn't been achieved for conventional rail. I suspect their desire to be seen as "innovators" will be better served by driverless people movers shuffling round exhibition centre car parks at walking pace.
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Old Jan 13th 2017, 10:21 pm
  #85  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

Glad I found this thread as you literally just answered all my other questions. You can ignore my last PM Standanista.

Thanks for the contribution brother!
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Old Jan 15th 2017, 10:35 am
  #86  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

Everything has gone quiet on Etihad rail and also Oman rail. They don't hae the cash to build either. We were heavily involved in the tender design.
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Old Jan 16th 2017, 3:34 pm
  #87  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

Standanista, that is an excellent update on how things have shaped up (or down more like) in ME Rail front, especially in UAE.
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Old Dec 27th 2017, 11:35 am
  #88  
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Default Re: Al Mirfa in the UAE

Hi.
I have been offered a job working out of al mirfa. Can anyone tell me what average salaries are for British expats?
What expenses I am likely to incur? My accommodation will be supplied during the working week, I have to pay for weekend stay?
I've never heard anything like this before. Any help would be really appriciated.
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