“If you do not pay you will go to prison it, is like that.”
This was the mobile phone message to a 40 year old women in Dubai that had managed to “RAK” up over 800,000 AED in debt thanks to her inability to manage her money and the sloppy lending practices of UAE banks that had managed to lend her more than $250,000 USD without checking that she had the means and ability to pay back the money. RAK Bank was not the only bank she had owed money to but according to this lady they had a very dubious way of collecting the debt.
“If often consider how many people there are in Dubai that are terrified of losing their families and loved ones just because they have not disclosed the full extent of their debt with UAE financial institutions. Like many I have thought of absconding or even worse committing suicide to escape the burden of debt that I am in.
I know that I am not the only person drowning in debt in Dubai, and I also know there are many of us living in constant fear that we will end up spending years in a Dubai jail because we have made a complete mess of our finances.”
I am over 40 now and I have lived in Dubai for over ten years, I am a mother to my children and a wife to my husband who has only recently managed to understand the scope of the debt I am in, costing me my relationship and many friendships.
Over the past five years I have secured loans from accounts from eight banks, three of them have granted me loans secured on cheques and I have eight credit cards all of which have led me to a position of being AED 800,000 that is over $215,000 in debt. My monthly payments are now much more than I can possibly earn in a month, so I am in a catch 22 situations.
RAK Bank and aggressive collections methods
The banks are not interested in helping me restructure the debt, one bank RAK Bank constantly calls me with collection demands, and threatens legal action, travel bans and of course a long time in jail unless I start to pay back the debt. The abuse and the constant calls of all banks are hard to deal with, although RAK bank’s collections department are incredibly aggressive especially when it comes to threats of jail.
When I have explained that I am currently unemployed and looking for a job the representatives from one bank have even suggested that I turn to prostitution by visiting the York Hotel so I could start to make payments.
‘Pay up or else’ is the only settlement plan on offer from a number of the banks I am indebted to. The continual chasing and threats of jail time have made my life a living hell. No one is interested in working out a settlement or plan, one of the banks has actually helped me, but as for the others they are in receipt of the post dated cheques I have used to secure the loans and cards – so they are quite happy to use the threat of jail to get their money back.
I am not looking for sympathy, I know I am in this position because of my own stupid naivety, had I left Dubai when I had realized I was in an unassailable position I would have been better able to deal with my problems, but I didn’t and now I am accountable.
My family will now have to help me avoid jail, it will take everything we have and will ruin our financial future, I am hoping that by sharing my story that it will help others in a similar position realize that working to solve a debt problem whilst in Dubai is not the best strategy.
Email to UAE Money Market * Edited from Anonymous.