Thursday, April 1, 2010

Draconian debt laws in the UAE. A Tale of Warning - Part Two

Continued from Part One.

Effectively imprisoned in the UAE because of an exit ban imposed by his bank, and facing both the removal of his work permit, illegal status, and jail for being in debt, our correspondent makes a big decision: to leave the UAE and come to Oman, illegally.

His story continues...

PART TWO: The Escape
I decided I had to get out. I found someone who could facilitate this and paid a lot of money to be brought over the border into Oman.

I have seen the [UK] embassy who have said they cannot directly help me as I am illegal, the lawyer said the same, but I feel in the circumstances I would have hoped to be helped to get home to the UK. I did not expect to left in limbo. I am fully aware that I must spend some time in jail here and pay a fine but I just want a guarantee I will be returned to the UK after I have paid my dues to the Omanis.

I am running out of money, scared that if I am returned to the UAE I am going to spend more than a year in jail for 9000 dirhams which I paid and basically be a victim of a barbaric system with no support or influence from the embassy there.

Photo: Getting illegally from the UAE into Oman can be bought.

So, despite an Omani Government amnesty for illegal aliens (just extended for two months), it seems the British Embassy wouldn't help him get back to the UK.

Running out of money, he made the fateful decision to try to get a flight out...

At the check-in desk he was detained by the Omani authorities, arrested, and unfortunately, deported straight away back to the UAE.

He is now in Dubai prison.

Photo: Dubai Central Prison. Easier to see than you'd think...

As you might imagine, there's no internet where he is now, and he can only communicate through his lawyer. He's facing at least a year in jail, followed by deportation.

The lesson?

If you are an expat in the UAE and have debts you can't repay, and if you seem to be about to loose your job, the only sensible thing to do is to leave the UAE fast, via the airport, before you get slapped with a travel ban.

And wish the place good riddance.

Otherwise you will be imprisoned in horrible conditions in a Dubai jail, probably for months and possibly for years.

Such is the state of the law in the UAE. I fail to understand why tourists risk their lives even visiting the UAE, let alone working there. For example, The man who got 1 month for giving the bird, or many other cases of arrest and imprisonment for trivial or even non-sensical offenses. (hey, at least in Oman its only 2 weeks in prison for flicking the bird!! Go Oman!)

"One bloke was arrested for doing press-ups on the beach - cops accused him of making love to the GROUND and charged him with indecency."

What I don't understand is why our illegal alien wasn't helped by the British Embassy.

Also, paying to get to Oman is probably a waste of time, unless perhaps you then can arrange for someone to take you on a boat across to India.

In Part Three, the tale of an Omani-based expat who was arrested while visiting the UAE on a shopping trip, charged (falsely) with having a minor debt-charge. Her tale is really harrowing.


  1. '...I found someone who could facilitate this and paid a lot of money to be brought over the border into Oman'
    Why not pay off some debts with the money instead of paying someone to get you into Oman?

    And now that he's here illegally, he expects the British taxpayer to bale him out????

    Al in Oman

  2. Hi Dragon, As a regular reader of your blog and one who finds it great reading, for the first time I have to slightly disagree with your rant against the UAE. I have lived and worked as a UK expat in both the Dubai and Oman and I can only speak as I found. I did have a few months of debt problems in Dubai and found both the bank and police really helpful. Then moved to Muscat and fell in love with Oman and was very sad to leave. I did ncome into contact with the ROP in Oman and found them great but the British Embassy useless. I still holiday in both places and will continue to recommend both a fantastic places to go. The key to a safe and happy visit in both countries is a little respect/understanding for the local customs and religion.

  3. Dragon- well written articles. Eager to see third installment.

  4. As someone who has lived in UAE for 20 years I have come across plenty of horrors that defy all logic. The laws out here judge according to nationality and strength of Embassy and without a doubt the most ineffectual anywhere in the world is British hence they always get the worse end. You rarely read about US or other European Citizens cause of the protection from their Embassies. Saying that everything out here is Police matter even rent disputes and first action is arrest and confiscation of passport. All you need is for a local to place a complain and that is enough for a warrant. Should a local wrong you then police will try their best to justify their actions and pressure you to drop the case in your best interest. The people who praise this place are those who are in jobs with people with clout (wasta), the people who get all their expenses paid and live better than back home.

  5. UD,

    so what do you suggest to control and deter people from playing around with accumulating debt in a country they know they can leave in a beat if things go wrong ????

    If expats are allowed to declare bankruptcy and simply walk away fom debt like in US then what to stop eurotrash from coming here, taking all sorts of debt and living the high life for few years and then declare bankrupcy and leave country for another and then rinse and repeat ????

    Please give us solutions and proposals to solve this dilama instead of picking up a case in a million to have an excuse to bash a country and vomit all sorts of sh*t from you sick arrogant mind.

  6. To be honest, you have no one to blame but yourself.
    Doing a runner is the same as stealing so it makes sense that anyone doing so will have to face jail.
    The UAE is a great place where people trust each other because of such strict laws.
    I , for one, am glad to live in a place that takes sanctity of money and property so seriously.

    This is not the 3rd world where one can rack up millions in loans without paying just because he is rich or connected

  7. Al,

    Fair point. But he is a citizen man. The embassy should help him. He hasn't broken British Law.


    well said.

    Imprisoning people is not working. It encourages them to flee debt you idiot. The debt should be the banks commercial risk. I think the Omani system, where banks get underwriting from the employee, is a good one.

    But if the banks want to lend unsecured money at high rates to temporary residents, hey it's their risk and it should not be a criminal matter but a civil matter.

    You are the people who won't let people emigrate to the UAE. Your visa systems and poor employee protection laws are part of the problem to.

    As for the overbearing arrogance of the Emiratis, I accept you can probably do nothing about that. OK dickhead?

    Yeah. Fair point. If Dubai was more up-front about the law and didn't have such a stupid visa system, that wouldn't be so bad. Running was a bad idea, at least after getting caught. There's a link on the 3rd part of the series with a link to a site all about it with good advice.

    But this is the problem - the current situation encourages bad solutions to debt problems. A decent personal bankruptcy law is urgently required.

  8. Nakheel was allowed to do debt restructuring and allowed 8 years to pay and that is how banks recoup their money. But putting people in jail isnt the solution.

    The other part is banks should bear alot of responsiblities for giving loans way over annual salary to expats knowing that sooner or later these guys will be first casualties in redundancy.

    By the way alot of people in jail over rental disputes because alot of landlords expect you to pay full annual rent up front and if you have lost your job six months down the line and have to move they dont accept and want you to pay the rest of the years rent even though they are going to rent the place to someone else when you leave.

    And Sultan - people trust each other - which people cause even among the locals there is a tier system. Here is a case for you - a Brit lady living in new accomodation gets a call from police to come down. So she goes and next thing she is arrested cause landlord from last acco. has decided he wants rest of rent cause he cant let out his place. She comes down with all proof between her and landlord but police say it is none of their business but the courts. So they arrest her on spot and put her in jail. She pleads I have two kids in school and I need to inform them and find someone to look after them - the answer not our problem. The case goes to court and she is cleared but cant get out of jail cause she must raise lawyer fees, court fees and paper work fees -total Dhs 6,000. In other countries the guy who brought the case and loose pays these charges.

    Cases like these have destroyed credibility of Dubai and Dubai has no one to blame cause they courted publicity at any cost during their ride to the top so dont expect the publicity machines to shut down on your way down because you dont like what they print. They say truth is very painful and Emaratis are so full of themselves they cant see further than their noses they cant see how ridiculous they look and sound to the rest of the world. We are the best, we have the biggest, the tallest, the most expensive etc. Oh yeah!

  9. Dear Sultan,

    Dubai is the third world where you can run up millions in loans because you are rich and connected. Just look at all the loans Nakheel, Dubai World, EMAAR have run up and yet no one in charge of them is in jail, no one has had their passports confiscated in fact no one locally is saying a word! Funny that you should come down on the poor people.

    It's one rule for the rich and another for anyone else.

    Dubai does not contain a health warning but should.

  10. Dear UD,

    I would like to address what seems to be a misperception of yours. It doesn't matter what your nationality is, the laws of a country apply to everyone in it. It is completely irrelevant what the law of your home country has to say about this or that situation. A foreigner in - lets say - Britain can also not evade prosecution from British authorities on the grounds that his home country doesn't recognise the crime. So naturally, embassies can do very little once people have managed to get themselves into such hopeless and really unfortunate situations as you have described. They are guests in their host countries and have to respect the authority of their host government, its bodies and laws.

  11. i have a credit card in UAE. i didnt pay the bill,, and i want to go other country in middle east.. it is possible to arrest me and they put me in a jail

  12. Hi,
    I have a question.I left Dubai in 2007 after losing job, with debt from a Dubai Bank.I am sure I have an immigration ban on me. I just wnated to ask that can someone with an immigration ban as mine from UAE,enter any other GCC country-even for transit flight or will I be caught there.Please let me know!!

  13. u can go freely to other gcc i have the same exp.



  16. Good day!
    I left Al-AIn (Abu Dhabi)in 2008 after losing job with debt from a Bank.I am sure I have an immigration ban on me. I just wanted to ask that can i enter any other GCC country for work, like Oman? Please let me know!!


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