THE GLOBAL FILIPINO MAGAZINE Issue 7 Pinoy who has been working in Middle East for...

Pinoy who has been working in Middle East for 3 decades shares struggles, lessons


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For the past 27 years, Ronaldo Balot Nilo has been working in the Middle East, playing major roles in the engineering sector. The 52-year-old Filipino is currently working as a civil and structural engineering lead in Qatar wherein he is working for 12 years now. 

Prior to working in Qatar, Nilo worked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 15 years. He arrived in a foreign country in 1992 and worked as a structural engineer. For over a decade, he imparted his knowledge to various companies that designed and built hundreds of structures for residential and commercial buildings, refineries, substations, factories, steel towers, bridges, marinas, diaphragm walls, pontoons, jetties, gazebos, and yacht platforms. 

Nilo embarked on an overseas life when he was still young. A colleague invited him to apply abroad and landed in Jeddah. “There, I realized that I need to strive harder to be able to raise my family and help my parents and young brothers and sisters,” he said. 

Presently, he is part of Turner International Middle East wherein he works as a civil and structural engineering lead for two stadiums of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The event will be the first world cup to be held in the region and will be the most compact world cup in history, allowing fans to watch multiple live matches per day. 

“The most satisfying thing about my work is having the opportunity to build something that will leave a legacy to people and generations to come and knowing that whatever structures I build, they will safely serve their purpose and will last their intended design life. In this way, the protection of life, health, and property are ensured, “ he added. 

Serving Filipinos abroad

“Success is not complete without service to others,” Nilo said.

While working abroad, he serves as a board of director of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers-Qatar chapter since 2010. He initiated a series of outreach programs for distressed Filipinos housed at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) by distributing food, gifts, plane tickets, and counseling on a monthly basis. 

He also revived the organization’s newsletter and spearheaded the campaign for Filipino engineers by being a registered ASEAN Engineer, ASEAN Chartered Professional Engineer and APEC Engineer. Nilo is one of the few Filipino engineers who holds the three titles. 

As a sixth-degree black belter, he has been teaching Aikido since 1997 and leads the organization Shuseikan Aikido Federation with members in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Uruguay, Spain, Ecuador, Philippines, and Qatar. 

When asked about the best thing about working in Qatar, he said being able to bring his whole family abroad and live with him. “Qatar has a family-friendly environment and ladies, even children, can have their own freedom,” he said. 

Struggles of an OFW

Life in the Kingdom, according to him, was lonesome as he only worked from morning until evening. Although he was able to save for his house, car, and some properties, he can’t just shrug off the fact that he missed 15 years of family life. 

“I did not see my kids grow up. Two months every two years were not enough to cover for the time I was away,” he added. 

He also recalled getting his wife and relatives scammed by an illegal recruiter that almost broke his family apart. “That was the beginning of a brighter future for my family right after the storm,” he added. 

“Invest in properties, not on gadgets. Start with the very basic: house. Trials and difficulties are a part of life. Every difficulty has an equivalent benefit in it. It makes you resilient and eventually stronger to overcome the trials. Don’t ever lose hope,” he further added when asked about his advice to his fellow Filipinos. 

This story has been featured on the seventh issue of The Global Filipino Magazine. To get a copy, you may contact Mr Orli Gayeta at +971503196856. If you have an inspiring story or know someone with one, please send an email at

The Global Filipino Magazine is the only Filipino magazine in the UAE that prints on a monthly basis. Its goal is to champion the success of every global Filipino across the globe.

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