Usury, or the charging of interest, is forbidden by Sharia.
Money is not a commodity, nor does it have a value over time if left unused, according to the law. Therefore, interest earned is an unjust income.
An individual who is involved in usury, or lends money at unreasonably high rates of interest, faces a jail term of at least three months plus a fine of at least Dh2,000, according to Article 409 of the Penal Code.
"If the lender takes advantage of the borrower's need and weakness, the punishment will be a jail term of up to three years plus doubling of the fine," said Rashid Tahlak, a Dubai-based criminal lawyer.
A repeated offence carries a jail term of up to five years, he said.
* Ramona Ruiz