Detained In Dubai

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Most expats living in Dubai took out credit cards, personal loans, car loans or mortgages, heavily promoted by the banks with little restrictions on lending criteria. Over the past decade though, the UAE’s economy has fluctuated vastly with a boom and bust pattern. When the times are good, expats have been able to earn three or more times their usual salary but when there is a downturn in the market, they can be made redundant with next to no notice, leaving them unable to service their financial obligations.

Since debt is criminalised in the country, they are suddenly left facing aggressive debt collection agencies who threaten to have them imprisoned if they can not come up with their instalments. They are left with no option but to flee to their home country where they will find lower paying employment and high tax rates.

The banks will usually employ a debt collection agency like Tahseel to chase the debt internationally. When the customer tries to explain their changed situation, they will be met with threats and intimidation, rather than a desire to reach a workable repayment plan. Customers face criminal charges in the UAE and listing on the Interpol Red Notice database. In fact in 2017, three customers were arrested in European countries because of bank debts, one as low as £13,000.

The banks often make use of local law firms like Coyle White Devine to recover their debts through UK courts. The firm has even been able to secure bankruptcy orders in absentia. It is therefore important that all UAE debts are carefully managed to avoid such escalations. In many cases, a small credit card debt has been increased with fees and interest to more than 100 times the actual amount used. Coyle White Devine had even tried to chase the subsidiary card holder of a deceased customer, more than ten years later.

In most cases, an amicable solution can be reached with the bank or their agencies but most customers complain that the likes of Tahseel are not interested in anything other than full payment, regardless of the customer’s changed circumstances. Their strategy is based on harassment, in the hope that the customer will miraculously materialise the full amount owed, perhaps with the assistance of family.

It is important to have a professional involved as early on as possible, to avoid such unnecessary escalations and to eliminate illegal harassment, the threat of an Interpol listing, court judgments or bankruptcy orders.