When I first moved to the UAE, I was employed by a Dubai-based company. This year, however, I set up my own company via a free zone in Ras Al Khaimah. A friend has just pointed out to me that my Dubai driving licence, which I have had for a few years, might not be valid anymore. Can you tell me what I need to do to change it, or even if I have to? GS Ras Al Khaimah
Because you are on a Ras Al Khaimah visa, you must have a driving licence issued by the same emirate. You need to replace the one you have as a matter of urgency. Applications are made to the Ras Al Khaimah police department. You need to provide your UK licence, two passport photographs, the original passport with residence visa and a copy of it, and a fee of Dh250. And, because you have an investor visa, you will need to contact the free-zone authority for a letter confirming your status.
If you are an employee, you have to also provide your labour card and a letter from your employer in Arabic. You must take these documents to the police, where you will be required to take a quick eye test. You can fill out the driving licence application form at the police station. In GS's case, he does not need to obtain a translation because his original licence is in English. For licences that are not in English, a formal Arabic translation is required. Transfers are available from a limited list of countries, similar to the other emirates. I understand that applicants are also asked to provide a letter from their embassy or consulate confirming that their licence is valid.
I have been working for a company in Dubai for a few months, but I am not happy. I want to take up a job offer I have received from a company in Muscat, Oman, which seems to be a lot better for me. I am in possession of my passport and want to go directly to Oman, but what are the implications of me doing this? Will I be banned from working in the UAE and will that affect me in Oman? Would I have an issue coming to the UAE on a tourist visa if I wanted to visit? MD Dubai
Depending on where you are working, you are likely to receive a labour ban for a six-month period. This would prevent you from taking up new employment in the UAE, but won't stop you from working in Oman. Furthermore, there is nothing to prevent you from visiting the UAE on a visit/tourist visa subject to the standard rules.
I set up a sister company in Dubai for our London branch in July last year. However, it is not easy to find staff who can work at the same level as in London, so the costs of visas can quickly become a gamble for the employer. How does it work in Dubai in regard to who covers the cost of a visa if the employee proves to be unsuitable and has to leave the company within a year of employment? Can the cost of a visa be deducted from the notice period payment? The contract lists a notice period of one month, but mentions nothing about visa costs. I wanted to check this because in the UK, some labour laws still apply even if a contract hasn't been signed yet. Can employees here just hop from company to company without any regard to costs of visas? CWS Dubai
It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the correct visas and work permits for employees. There is some leeway to provide for delays, but the appropriate paperwork must be sorted out within 60 days of someone's taking up a position. The UAE Labour Law states that these costs are the responsibility of the employer. The only exception is if both the employer and the employee sign a written contract at the start of service stating that the employee would be liable for such costs on termination of employment. If the employee has not signed a contract to this effect, then the standard Labour Law provisions apply and the cost may not be deducted from wages. Employers can apply for a labour ban on employees who leave the company, so for many people there is no possibility of changing an employer at will.
I want to go to Haj this year and have asked my employer about this because I need to plan ahead. I will have to take some time off work, but my employer will not say if I can have the days I want. I need to book soon because this is a popular trip. Because it is a pilgrimage, can my employer stop me from going? What does the law say? MK Dubai
For Muslims, Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the greatest religious observances and, where possible, they are expected to undertake this journey at least once in their lifetime. Haj this year is expected to fall between November 4 and 9. But because it depends on the lunar calendar, MK will need to take some days of his holiday on either side of these dates. The UAE's Labour Law states that an employer must grant a Muslim employee special leave at least once during his employment, without pay, to go for Haj, for a period of time that does not exceed 30 days. This does not form part of the usual annual leave provisions. If MK's employer does not want to grant permission for the standard paid holiday entitlement, he has no option but to permit him to take unpaid special leave.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter.