In 2012, Faisal Mukwaya lost his bank job in Kampala, the capital of the landlocked East-African country of Uganda. He had a university degree, but the Ugandan economy was faltering so he decided to try his luck as an entrepreneur…
However, even though Uganda is the fifth freest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is still too corrupt and hostile to business. He found himself without an income but with a family to support. What to do?
He chose to fly 2,500 miles to Dubai to find a job. As part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it is one of the freest economies in the world and booming with opportunities. Most people imagine the Middle East as a filthy rich region fueled by some of the largest oil reserves in the world, and at first glance, Dubai looks like it fits the stereotype. However, you may be surprised to learn that Dubai ran out of oil in the 1960s.
Fortunately for Dubai, the Sheikh had not been indoctrinated with socialism at Western universities. He transformed the desert state from a sleepy and backward village to a global metropolis with low taxes and business-friendly regulations. While its neighbors were exporting oil, Dubai was selling economic freedom and opportunity.
Both global businesses and migrant workers from across the world were enticed to go to the Arab nation. Mukwaya was one of them.
Liberty Nation talked to Mukwaya about his experience moving to Dubai and how it has impacted him. “To me working abroad presents benefits far beyond the job. More importantly, I have been able to learn new ways of doing things because I am interacting with talents from all around the world,” he said.
His entrepreneurial zeal inspired him to write a book, The Last Advice, about his experiences for foreign workers on how to seek and find the best opportunities in the Middle East and avoid the worst pitfalls. “Working in the Middle East comes with unique challenges. If one fails to deal with these issues, then he or she may end up sinking in an ocean of regrets.”
The UAE has beyond question benefitted greatly from the eight million migrant workers currently residing there. They have gone there legally to work, not to get welfare benefits, peddle in crime or to vote. Consequently, the country has few of the same problems that currently plague the U.S. and Europe.
Since economic freedom is the main export article, they have more than full employment, meaning that they create enough jobs for their local citizens as well as for millions of foreign workers.
There are some tragic stories; it is not a place without risk or discomfort, but since the workers are there legally, they often have more rights and protection than illegal aliens in America. Most of them can send more money to their families every month than they could ever hope to earn in their home countries.
Make America Great Again?
In a sad twist of fate, America went from being the land of opportunity for citizens as well as immigrants, to a place where former President Barack Obama’s sole mission was to manage the decline.
The U.S. has steadily been falling on the Heritage world index of economic freedom for decades and is now behind Dubai. It is not as bad as Uganda – yet – but the trend has been clear. America used to be the greatest and most thriving economy in the world, but other places such as Dubai and Singapore took over the role as world dynamos in the global economy.
However, under President Donald Trump the trend has reversed. Can America make a comeback? It can if it stops exporting jobs to China and instead starts exporting economic freedom and opportunity. Dubai learned from America before its fall from grace. Now it may be time for America to reclaim its old title as the land of the free.