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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

'Can I work in Abu Dhabi at the age of 74?'

The Briton wants to relocate back to the UAE for employment after four years away

The reader says he is confident he can pass any medical to help secure his return to work in the Emirates. Photo: Getty Images
The reader says he is confident he can pass any medical to help secure his return to work in the Emirates. Photo: Getty Images

I worked in Abu Dhabi for three years and left in 2014 purely on account of a family illness. I have recently had an interview, which went very well with a view to return. I am confident I will pass any medical but I have just turned 74 and would like to know if I will qualify for a work visa? With the change in Labour Law I assumed it was now at the employer’s discretion but would appreciate confirmation. TP, UK

Until January 2011 there was a nominal retirement age for expats working in the private sector of 60 and that was then increased to 65. It is possible however, for people to be employed above the age of 65 at the time of application. This is dependent on the individual’s occupation, expertise, qualifications and experience, which should be relevant to the company offering the position. The visa must be approved by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

For an employee of this age, a visa is issued annually and, as per the standard law, the employer must bear this cost as well the cost of providing medical insurance for anyone on a Dubai or Abu Dhabi visa.

In this case, I assume the company that interviewed TP is aware of his age and want to employ him precisely for his unique skillset. It is not common for individuals over the age of 60 to be offered positions, but there are options for employers looking to hire an older individual if they are an expert in a field and the employer is willing to pay additional costs to do so.

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I live in Abu Dhabi and have just received my visa and Emirates Identity card. My company has also given me a car. I have a valid driving licence from Oman, so is it possible to drive the car for a few days until I change to a UAE licence? Is there any option available to change the licence without a test? Do I have to get some kind of special permission or can I just go ahead? I have been given conflicting information so far. AK, Abu Dhabi

Anyone with a UAE residency visa must only drive a private vehicle on a UAE driving licence. This includes any company owned vehicles. AK cannot drive the company car on his Oman driving licence and that now includes any rental vehicles as the law states that once a residency visa application is underway, an individual can only drive in the UAE on a UAE driving licence.

If an individual is an Omani national, they can easily convert the Oman licence. Any non-GCC national who has a licence issued in Oman, will need to take lessons and a test before they can obtain a UAE driving licence and must not drive here without it.

The exception is for people with certain passports and original driving licences from one of the countries that permits quick conversion of their original licence, (Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States). In all cases the sponsor must provide a letter of no objection for an individual to apply for a test or licence.

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I have a question about a husband and wife having individual separate accounts in the same bank. What happens in the event of the husband’s death? If the wife is sponsored by her husband, is her bank account also frozen? Would she be able to operate her account? SA, Dubai

In the event of the death of any individual, all assets in the UAE are frozen and that includes all banks accounts. Where there are accounts in joint names, they will be frozen in the event of the death of either of the accountholders. Where a wife has an account in her own name with the same bank as her husband, whether her account will be frozen in the event of his death depends on how the account was set up. Banks often note that the accounts are ‘linked’, especially if the wife does not have her own salary and/or the account was set up as a subsidiary of the husband’s account. This is a concern as it is likely that her account could also be frozen.

My advice is for all women is to have their own, entirely separate bank accounts. This should be with a different bank so there is no confusion or doubt as to whether a bank has linked accounts in some way. A number of banks offer accounts that do not require a regular salary to be paid in; these come with cheque books, an ATM card and online banking.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and Senior Partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 25 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only