The vast sums being planned for more desalination and power.
The law suit between Shell Oman Marketing and alledgedly - Al Sirooj, a major francisee(? rumour 1), or against Shell and a Government Company like OOC or ORPC over imported bunkering fuel???? (rumour 2).
The strange and eerie case of the sudden disappearance of fantabulous local blogger Muscato. I do fear for his safety.
And, I hope you didn't miss this incredible post about women's rights in south Omsn and the Sultanate in general by the wonderful Dhofari Gucci. Recommended reading.
Anyhow, so here's something else.
Continued from Part Two.
In theory Oman has on the books a lot of UAE-similarly ill-defined wacky laws, where imprisonment is an option. But fortunately the ROP are generally blessed with common sense, and a naturally tendency to want things sorted out amicably without requiring too much paperwork for the courts.
And a big difference: Here in Oman, employers usually take liability for debt (or in the case of Omanis, the banks are asked to forgive the debt. More on that story soon.)
This situation in the UAE, fragmented police forces and varying degrees of application of very ill-defined laws, is creating an environment where expats are being blackmailed and extorted by officials in the UAE and in the banks. These officials use the threat of imprisonment without due cause as a weapon, and it's proving very profitable.
Just because you live safely in Oman doesn't mean you can ignore this problem. Anyone in the UAE who is in a debt trap situation might wanty to visit Debt Prison . Net , a great site that shows there can be a solution oif you're willing to work hard and take a risk.
Now, here's a very scary tale from an Oman based Expat who is also an ex-UAE resident from many years ago (she chooses to remain anonymous). The following is another true story:
Busted at the Border
Roughly a year ago (2009) I went for one of many trips to Dubai, in my car, alone, to visit friends and do some shopping. My last visit prior to this had been in Dec -08 for the same reason.
I take off early in the morning, reach the border round about 10am, as usual show my passport (European) and expect the stamps and to off to my breakfast date, and further some shopping.
Well, instead I'm told I've I need to see the supervisor... Ok, I get into the portacabin and in a small "office" is a man with a computer telling me with a smile on his face that I'm black listed!!!
WHAT!!!??? How, where, when, WHAT!!!
[The Debt Saga Begins]
Apparently on his screen it says I owe "someone" 14 000 DHS![US$3500] My heart races, I'm totally surprised! I used to live in Dubai many years ago but as you stated in your post, to leave the country you have to clear your bank, which I did and got the papers and release letter accordingly. I've been back MANY times after leaving Dubai and never before incountered any problems.
I'm taken to Hatta police station, call my husband, in tears, trying to tell him about the situation though I really don't know what the actual deal is. Here at the station the amount "owed" is suddenly 24 000 Dhs [US$6000].
Now all I want is to get out of there and home so I offer to pay the money there and then and deal with the rest later but NO, not possible since the case has been taken to court!!!???
I'm taken to a big police station, by "jailbus", downtown in Dubai, sat infront of an officer who's suppose to take my statement. He tells me there is a case against me for fraud. I have, according to him, signed 2 cheques, one in 2004 and one in 2005.
I'm totally & utterly stunned! I show him my passport which proves that I was not in Dubai on the stated dates, which he agrees is "odd", but keeps pointing at his screen saying "it says here".
I'm upset beyond words, not knowing what to do; he's writing a statement, in Arabic, that he wants me to sign. Not knowing what it realy reads, for all I know I could be confessing to murder. He goes off, comes back and tells me I have 2 options - me thinking one of them is leaving my id etc stay at my friends house over night to come back in the morning and sort this mistake out. Well, his two options are either staying in the prison at the station or go to the main prison... imagine my dispare!!!
[Immediate Prisonment is the only option]
I'm then "escorted" by a rather large female police officer to the prison at the station. The metal door is massive, at least 20 cm thick! It slam behind me and infront of me are a desk with 4 more large female guards telling me to give them all my possessions incl. my mobile, the only line to the outside, my husband and freedom!
I'm allowed to use my Omani rials to buy a phone card. Then I'm told to walk through an opening in the wall... that's it... I'm scared, confused and feel like I'm in a living nightmare...
I walk through the opening into a massive rom or more like a warehouse with an open "yard" in the middle cells along the walls with bunkbeds, already occupied to the brim, a second floor overlooking the "yard". A girl, who I later found out had been there for 4 months for slapping her Emirati boyfriend, came up to me with an old mattress and an old blanket she told me "find yourself a corner on the floor" Honestly!!! I have never done anything against the law in my life, been hard working until I had children and this is indescribable!
I didn't sleep much, as you can imagine: the flourecent lights stay on 24/7, toilets are holes in the ground with no privacy - hence my decision not to eat or drink again until I get out. Food served 3 times a day; you can bribe the guards to bring you food from the outside coffeeshop but I was not interested in any of it.
The girls inside are just normal girls who have been either wrongly inprisoned, like myself, or actually comitted a "crime" such as fraud, unpaid debts, having a boyfriend(!). A sad sad thing is the asian girls in there still called me, as a westerner, "madam"!!
I cried my self through the night, listening to endless stories of different destinies: that normally if you are accused of fraud you'll have at least 1 month to wait for your first trial, where you are taken in front of a judge and you have to state if you are guilty or not, and that is then recorded. Then you go back to the prison to await a further date in court where the judge will decide if you are guilty or not, and a minimum for fraud is 3 months...
[The Debt Keeps Getting Bigger]
Things just gets worse and worse... I'm on one of the 2 payphones available in the hall every 3 hours to get an update of the situation and it turns out that when the husband of my friend and his emirati PRO go to the bank, the one claiming that I signed the cheques, the manager there tells them it is not 24 000 it is 77 000 Dhs!!!!! [US$20,000] BUT he can do us "a favor" and give some discount (!!!???) - 15,000 Dhs worth of discount - so it takes the sum to 62 000 Dhs...
Luckily my friend's husband has the money, pays the bank, gets the paper of no claim, gets to the court where a judge is in a good mood and decides they have better things to do than persue this case, sigs it off, CID sign their part 3 minutes to 2pm (when they close) and papers are taken to the police station.
@ 6pm one of the guards, comes in shouts my name and tells me you are free to go!!!!
[A Hollywood Ending]
Everyone in that prison stood up, clapped their hands and whistled... like a good old american movie!!
My nightmare was over, we were 6500 rials poorer but that was a later problem - I was out! It was a bittersweet feeling seeing all this well meaning individuals, some actually had boken the laws other just very unfortunate and without the friends and financial means I have... their faces still haunts me!
After this, when I'm back home in Oman, we inquired about legal help to have this matter brought up again in court, and maybe be able to get back our money. We were advised to "let it go" as it would cost us probably the same amount, if not more, to hire someone. Even then no one would ever admit to being wrong, so we would get nothing by doing so, just more trouble. Plus being scared to death of ever having to go through that again - let it go!
The most expensive trip to Dubai in my life, but I was home, with my family and safe - that is worth 6500 rials.
Hearing similar stories afterwards it seems that there might be some kind of "inside" job going on in the UAE banks. Someone see the accounts being "closed" and they have the information, wait a while, then use the account...
I don't know but it is worth mentioning for others that when and if you leave any country and you "close" your accounts - keep the papers saying so! No matter how long after you've left!
In my case after 8 years, and 5 moves later - with no papers - it was rather costly!
All I can say is OMG. Just be careful folks. The UAE is not like Oman.
It's getting more and more totally bat-shit insane in our brotherly neighbouring Emirati state-lets.
Muscat Confidential rates the UAE a big : AVOID IF POSSIBLE.
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