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I’m Worried I’m Going to Get Arrested For My Bad Debt in Dubai and Sit in Jail for a Long Time. – William

William

“Dear Steve,

I’m in a rather difficult predicament. I’m currently in Dubai and due to having lost my job I’m no longer going to be able to afford to pay the monthly instalments on my credit card debt as well as on a personal loan I was forced to take out due to the Dubai law whereby one has to pay a full year rent upfront.

I’m not going to sit around and wait for someone to knock on my door and arrest me for defaulting. I’m planning on jumping on a flight out of the UAE before the week ends.

I will try and start repaying what I owe, even if in very small amounts, as soon as I am settled and found a new job back home. My only concern is: Could they go after me even if I am no longer in the country? Many people I know have found themselves in the same situation I’m in and have had to leave even if they did not want to, but the law is such here that we are left at a loss for choices. Thank you for your time. I’m not a fraudster, things just didn’t work out the way we were hoping due to the economic meltdown.

Regards

William”

Dear William,

You have a right to be concerned about your debt issue in UAE. It is reported that 40% of prisoners in Dubai’s central jail are incarcerated for debt problems.

But in Dubai, with no laws regulating defaults on personal borrowing, a person jailed for such an infraction is likely to remain there even when their sentence is over until a relative, charity group, wealthy businessman or even a member of the ruling family pays the debt.

It is very unlikely that your creditors will chase you once you get back home. However, you may get some collection calls if they can track down your number. A creditor could send your account out for international collections but that rarely happens.

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But one international debt collector was quoted as saying, If, for example, you’re in the UK and you owe money here, I can go to the county court, get a court order and a bailiff and I’ll have your house. The law will allow me to do that.”

But it is very likely that you will have criminal charges filed against you in the UAE once the payments are not made and it is discovered you are gone. This is especially true it your loan required you to write out advance checks, which is the typical process in the UAE. The bank will deposit those checks, they will bounce, and the police will start looking for you in Dubai. It is reported that the police in the UAE spend 60% of their time trying to find debtors.

Once you get home and back to work, I would suggest that then you try to find a loan to pay off the balance back in Dubai, as soon as possible and then contact your creditor with a plan to pay what you owe. Don’t be surprised that your balance will have grown since the amount you owe will have interest building during your period of no payments.

The debt laws in Dubai are very archaic and it is true, you are left with few good options. Once you leave the country, don’t make any plans to return to the UAE or Middle East until your debt is satisfied. In fact, if you do have to return, carry proof with you that the debt is repaid in case their is an old warrant out for your arrest.

Have a nice flight.

Sincerly,
Steve

You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

Sources: International debt collector, Dubai prison population

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

15 Comments

  • I am going to be in transit in Doha to go to Thailand; would I be arrested if I owe 10K at a bank in Dubai where I used to leave 2 years ago?

  • I am going to be in transit in Doha to go to Thailand; would I be arrested if I owe 10K at a bank in Dubai where I used to leave 2 years ago?

  • Hello Steve: I have an outstanding UAE Visa debt of about Dhs130,000. I am attempting to settle this, but the collectors refuse to work with me. Amazing but true. However, this is not why I am asking for advise. What am want to ask is this: I do not know if I have an arrest warrant out for me or not, but if I do have a UAE arrest warrant and have an international flight that transfers through Dubai, where I do not go through immigration, will any know about it – or be looking for me at all? I would like to transfer aircraft without getting put in a Dubai jail. Can you please advise me on this? Thank you very much.

  • Hello Steve: I have an outstanding UAE Visa debt of about Dhs130,000. I am attempting to settle this, but the collectors refuse to work with me. Amazing but true. However, this is not why I am asking for advise. What am want to ask is this: I do not know if I have an arrest warrant out for me or not, but if I do have a UAE arrest warrant and have an international flight that transfers through Dubai, where I do not go through immigration, will any know about it – or be looking for me at all? I would like to transfer aircraft without getting put in a Dubai jail. Can you please advise me on this? Thank you very much.

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