Standard Chartered Bank has been pestering me every third day with unsolicited calls to my mobile phone from their call centre during working hours, holidays and when I'm relaxing with my family. The call is always about a new product, an offer for a loan or consolidating of card balances. I have complained 100 times to the people who call me, but to no avail. Is there any way to make them stop? HK Dubai
HK's query was forwarded to Standard Chartered, and they have responded as follows: "The Bank's customer care unit has now listened to all calls made by the customer. It was determined that the customer had informed the bank not to phone for future offers on March 6. Unfortunately, another unsolicited call was made on March 7. As a result of your e-mail, Standard Chartered Bank has now removed the specific customer's name from our database, and going forward, no more phone calls will be made." HK has been contacted by the bank, and he's happy with the outcome.
I'm a US citizen and considering a three- to six-month consulting contract in Abu Dhabi. I have been offered a job by the firm that is tax-free, but my sense is that they are speaking more about the firm's liability than my own. It's a small firm with limited presence in the region at the moment. I gather that I'm subject to taxes based on my nationality and not my physical presence. I have no intention of relinquishing my US citizenship or status as long-term resident at the moment. Can you clarify the situation for me? NK New Jersey, USA
There are no personal income taxes in the UAE, of which Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate. But as a US citizen, you must declare and pay taxes on your worldwide income, including from any consulting work, with or without personal income taxes. Unfortunately, a three- to six-month posting will not qualify you for the Overseas Earned Income Exclusion (IRS form 2555). For that you need to remain overseas for at least 330 days in a given 12-month period.
I would like to ask you about what happens to the money in a bank account here if a husband dies. My husband and I have several joint accounts. We have saved a fairly significant amount of money since coming to the UAE and have spread it over several different types of accounts here. All our accounts are held jointly, and as I do not work my bank told me it would not open a separate account in my name only. Is it really true that, should anything happen to my husband, I will not be able to access our funds under Sharia law? WH Dubai
It is not an urban myth that bank accounts are frozen when a man dies. In the event of death while resident in the UAE, any assets held in the country are subject to sharia law. This means that any bank account with your husband's name on it, either single or jointly held, will be frozen until such time as the courts decide how assets should be distributed. This does not mean that you will never see the money again, although the ultimate decision rests with the courts. Having a proper will can increase your chances of protecting what's yours, so make sure you consult a qualified lawyer.
My advice is to ensure that you have either an account in your name alone or funds offshore that you can access in this situation. If you wish to avoid the potential problems under sharia rules, you may wish to keep the bulk of your nest egg in an offshore account. If your bank won't allow you to open a sole account, then go elsewhere. Many banks offer "ladies accounts" specifically for women without employment, and they will be glad to have your business.
I'm a resident of Dubai and employed by a company that sponsors me and supplies my residency visa. I have now been approached by a friend who owns a small company to do some freelance work on the side, but I'm unsure about the legality of this. Could you clarify please? CF Dubai You may work only for someone other than your employer if you have your sponsor's permission. They must provide you with a No Objection Certificate and the other company must be fully aware of your situation. Also, the company for whom you freelance isn't obliged to provide you with any benefits, such as end-of-service gratuity or holidays.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at email@example.com Letters can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org