Filipinos in Dubai: It’s What I Do

Alterations Engineer – Emaar Properties
Dubai, UAE

Irish Abarabar Filipinos Dubai


What do you do for a living?

I am an architect, and I work in the customer care alterations department in a large real estate developer here in the UAE. I am involved in planning projects and site visits. I make sure that our projects are running smoothly and on schedule. I embrace my tasks so I can execute my job well, and I am lucky to work with a great team. My employer, Emaar, regularly provides us employees with trainings for personal and professional development, so we are always able to work effectively with each other.

Irish Abarabar Pinoy in Dubai


Please describe your typical working day.

I deal with different types of people from different countries everyday. I make sure that I get all the job done in time, such as quality checks and solving client problems. I am also very proactive and I take ample time and effort to understand my clients issues so I can help them solve it better.

Irish Abarabar


Please share with us an interesting story or anecdote, anything remarkable or uplifting that has happened to you on the job.

Being an architect is a very challenging career, and there are many highs and lows. There are a lot of things you must do, and with proper discipline, they can be done. I was hit by the global financial crisis back in 2008 where there were a few jobs available, and I was left with no choice but go back home. But I never gave up.

The most fulfilling part was when I was re-hired by my employer when they got their business goes back on track. Now, I have already built a strong network with clients, engineers, and contractors.

Irish Abarabar Filipino in UAE


Your message to Filipinos out there.

The key to success in your career is having the willingness to step outside of your comfort zone. No matter where you are in your career, don’t get sluggish. Recover using your willpower and determination. The reason why most of us fail is because we give up too soon.

Always keep your career moving. Choose to lead and to inspire. The more you are able to do that, the more you will earn the trust of your employer and everyone around you.

Once you reach one of your goals, your journey is not over. You have to keep moving. Persevere, so that someday when you look back, you’ll say, “I’m glad I did,’ instead of “I wish I had.”



Travel & CRM Coordinator – ART DUBAI
Secretary – Philippine Business Council
Secretariat Head – Ateneo’s LSE program

LEO VALLE BARRAMEDA – Philippine Business Council


What do you do for a living?

I am the executive assistant of H.H. Sheikha Maisa Al Qassimi, and I have held this position for more than 7 years now. I am also the new Travel and CRM Coordinator of Art Dubai Fair LLC, an events company that organizes and manages some of the biggest arts and design events in the UAE, such as Art Dubai, Design Days Dubai, and Downtown Design.



Please describe your typical working day.

A typical working day for me starts with thinking what to wear to work. Being part of an artsy-fartsy team encourages me to be creative on what I pull out from my closet.

Working directly with the VIP team, I usually start the day updating the database while drinking my daily dose of green tea. The rest of the day is spent on dealing with flight requests, matching hotel requirements, booking car transfers, applying for visas, and checking the Internet for deals and promos. I am maintaining three company email accounts; Outlook is my work buddy as we spend a lot of time together. Needless to say, receiving compliments and positive feedback are my inspiration to keep me going.

Art Dubai team in Index Tower office - LEO VALLE BARRAMEDA


Please share with us an interesting story or anecdote, anything remarkable or uplifting that has happened to you on the job.

Being the only full-blooded Filipino in the team, I was very intimidated at first. On the contrary, I am warmly welcomed and now I feel my worth in the company. Glitches and challenges usually happen, but I always deal them with a smile. After all, Filipinos are known to be always happy, and I am proud to be one. I am also very lucky that I am part of a very diverse company.

I make sure that I pay it forward to the Filipino community in Dubai. I was appointed as Secretary of the Philippine Business Council here in Dubai, and I helped establish opportunities for Filipino entrepreneurs to network and develop bilateral cooperation. I am also the Head Secretary of the Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship (LSE) Program organized by Ateneo de Manila University School of Government.



Your message to Filipinos out there.

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Happiness is like perfume, you can’t pour it on others without getting a few drops on yourself.”

Always surround yourself with good people, the thinkers and the doers, and most of all, people who see your worth. I learned to associate myself with positive friends that helped me see my own greatness and find more joy in simple things. Don’t expect too much from people to avoid disappointment; be open-minded and wait for surprises.


How do I end my day?

With a big smile as I know I did my best and a breath of prayer for His greater glory.



Director of Business Development & Client Services
DiLeonardo International
Dubai, UAE

Diana Santos - Filipino in Dubai


What do you do for a living?

I’m a Business Development professional, and I’m currently the Director of Business Development and Client Services for DiLeonardo International, an interior design firm.

I look after the business development and marketing efforts of the firm for the Middle East and South East Asia. This includes traveling for work, meeting clients, answering inquiries and providing proposals for potential interior design projects and organizing PR & marketing events.

Though I came from a different educational background (I’m a graduate of BS Economics), my nine-year stint in the design industry has honed and educated me in this thriving sector of the Middle East. Having the business background helps as well for my day-to-day operational business development and research requirement. It’s been an interesting journey so far and I do hope to continue on for many years to come within this field.


Please describe your typical working day.

My typical day starts with checking my emails the moment I wake up to see if there are urgent matters that need to be addressed immediately. Working in a multinational company, the sense of “staying connected” is stronger because we work with different talents across the globe.

I would then have my morning coffee and proceed with my client phone calls, researching on what’s on and what’s hot in the hotel, real estate, and design industry. Then I answer inquiries and do my proposals for potential projects. Then as soon as I find the time, I look into possible marketing and PR activities for the company. It’s an extensive scope – but I thrive and enjoy in diversity and pressure, especially when the end results are positive.


Please share with us an interesting story or anecdote, anything remarkable or uplifting that has happened to you on the job.

For any business development professional, the most uplifting moment is when you secure a commissioned project. And I had that moment a few weeks ago when we won a nice luxury resort project, and it was in my home country! The journey and the group effort that went into getting to that stage was just inspiring and the feeling of accomplishment when you’ve bagged the project is uplifting indeed! I guess you can say it’s the sense of victory that drives and motivates me to do what I do.


Your message to Filipinos out there.

Love what you do! It doesn’t matter if it’s not within your field, or not the ideal work that you would have wanted for yourself. The dedication and passion you put in to your work will reflect and eventually lead you to greater things and open up opportunities. The Filipino people are so talented and has so much to offer, and given the right frame of mind and opportunity, we can excel in whatever task we undertake.