x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Frozen account here causes worry after move to US

On your side: Keren Bobker answers questions about bank accounts being frozen in the UAE and why women cannot open accounts for their children.

I worked in the UAE for four years until February and my final pay cheque was deposited in my National Bank of Abu Dhabi account, completely covering outstanding charges on my credit cards, which were cancelled on February 28. I left the country on March 1. The bank told me the remaining amount (after the cards were paid off) would be frozen for a period of two months, then I could transfer the money into my account in the United States. It's been 10 weeks and the money is still frozen. The bank also says I have a negative balance now, as there were not enough funds to cover a cheque for Dh25,000. But I didn't write any cheques. If the credit cards were paid in full, why was the security cheque not destroyed as I don't owe any money? The account will automatically close soon, since I no longer work or live there and I will lose all my money. Please help me. CR, USA

This looked a little worrying so I contacted NBAD and a spokesman advised: "I checked this account; this block, which was according to the stated policies, was lifted at end of the required period. The client executed two online transfers on May 30. The account is not frozen and a 'security cheque' was not executed on her account. The [temporary] block was to cover her credit card limit. When the client's employer made a deposit into the account, a portion of it was credited toward the credit card balance. The rest was put on a block pending clearance of any possible charges on the credit card. The blockage period ended and the account was immediately unblocked." It seems that this was largely an issue of miscommunication. Ms R has confirmed that she can now access her account and as she has left the UAE permanently, the bank will be closing her account and mailing her a cashier's cheque for any outstanding balance.


I have two children and want to open accounts for them so that they can put their savings somewhere safe and learn about banking. I have approached a couple of banks, but in both cases I have been told that as their mother I cannot do this and that accounts can only be opened by a father. I can't work out if this is bank policy or the law. Either way, it is inconvenient as my husband travels a lot and does not have the time to deal with this. Can you advise? EN, Abu Dhabi

It is a Central Bank regulation that women cannot open bank accounts for their children even if they are the children's sponsors or custodians. Only fathers can open bank accounts for offspring as they are deemed to be their natural guardians or custodians under the Central Bank's interpretation of Sharia law. The regulations state that banks may open accounts only for individuals who are aged 21 or over, or if someone is aged 18 and employed by a government or semi-government entity. Under those ages, assistance from an appropriate parent or guardian is required. Once an account has been set up on behalf of a minor by the father, he can provide power of attorney so that the mother can manage the account.


I have a life assurance policy that I arranged via a local broker, although that company is no longer in business. The policy is with a well-known insurance company but they say that they cannot provide me with any advice. I have a couple of questions and I am hoping you will be able to tell me the answers. Although I have been living in the United Kingdom for several years, I will be moving to Spain for a few months before taking up a long-term position in Qatar. I need to know if the life policy will be valid when I move and if there is anything I need to do. GM, Dubai

When a life assurance policy is underwritten by the provider, it is based on the life assured's situation at that time, so if that changes it is important that the insurance company is notified. The main information they are interested in is where someone is living and if there has been a significant change in occupation or pastimes. In the vast majority of cases a change of country will not affect the premiums that are payable, but if someone moves to a country where there are considered to be more risks then that can affect the plan. Likewise, if someone set up a plan when they had a simple desk-based job but then changed to something very physical where there is a significant level of danger, or took up a dangerous hobby, that could result in an increase in premium to reflect the higher level of risk. GM should tell the insurance company of his new addresses so that he remains insured.


Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com