The UAE economy was suffering badly even before the pandemic according to many experts. This 2018 article explains how the desert country got it so badly wrong, and that the signs are there for those willing to look.
From March 2020, UAE businesses have been making unprecedented numbers of white collar workers redundant. People who took credit in good faith found themselves unable to meet the repayments and unlike Western countries, the UAE treats debt as a criminal matter. Vast numbers of expats, fearing jail and a travel ban that could keep them from ever leaving the country, sensibly chose to flee and renegotiate from the relative safety of their home countries.
Upon arriving home, many people found their financial circumstances greatly reduced. Their wages were often only ten percent of what they could command in Dubai, and now they had to pay tax. For some people, paying off their debt is simply not possible.
Dubai banks have many strategies to chase debt: harassment of the debt victim’s friends, family, new work colleagues and even customers. They threaten, issue illegal Interpol Red Notices, retain UK debt collection firms and enforce bankruptcy. But is there a statute of limitations, or will they carry on forever?
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai explains: “In the UK, generally speaking, an unpaid debt is cleared after 6 years. The UAE has a greater timeframe of 15 years and even then it is flexible.
“UAE banks have an unhealthy relationship with the legal system, as is evidenced by the wrongful Interpol Red Notices they have no trouble obtaining.
“If a UAE bank wants an extension on the 15 years, they can easily push it through.
“Another aspect to bear in mind is that the 15 years is not from when the last payment was made, but the last communication. It can completely be reset just by one email or phone call.
“The UAE banking system is in complete need of modernisation from the ground up. It is holding back the country’s ambitions to become a hub for tourism and business. They can have all the giant skyscrapers and indoor ski slopes in the world, but if Westerners don’t feel safe there, Dubai will never achieve the status it so desperately wants.
“Anybody who finds themself being harassed or bullied by UAE banks, please get in touch with either Detained in Dubai (email), or another, similar organisation for help.