The reader wants to return to Dubai to work after absconding during the financial crisis in 2009
'How can I find out if there are cases registered against me for unpaid debts?'
I was working in Dubai and was terminated in 2009, leaving all my accounts with debts. Are there any information sources or agencies to check if there is a case filed against me? I want to find out if there is a police case or a case at immigration that would cause a problem on arrival at Dubai airport. I am planning to go back to Dubai for work as I have a job offer. Is it possible for my new employer to get a visa for me if there is a case against me with Dubai police? Once I am in the UAE, is there a possibility that all penalties and charges from 2009 can be removed and the payments restructured?
AT, The Philippines
I assume from the letter that AT has not been in touch with the bank to which he owes this money and has not made any repayments in the nine years he has been out of the UAE. If he has made no attempt to deal with this debt, I would not expect the bank to be amenable about waiving any penalties. The amount that was outstanding will have increased significantly over the years by the addition of both interest and penalties. A redundancy is unfortunate but everyone is aware that any money borrowed from a bank must be repaid.
There is no publicly accessible register of debt cases and the logical course of action for AT is to contact the bank to which he owes money. He needs to ask them whether there is a case registered, how much is owed, and start to discuss what he can do to repay the outstanding debt. It is no longer possible for a third party to enquire about cases at a Dubai Police station. To do this, a lawyer would need to be engaged, at a price.
Assuming there is a case registered against him – and this is very likely considering the situation – AT will need to come to an arrangement with the bank and repay at least part of what he owes for the bank to consider lifting a case. If he can repay most of the money owed in one go, a bank may consider taking a slightly lower amount but all situations are considered individually.
While a case is ongoing, he will not be able to enter the UAE without being detained, so it becomes somewhat academic as to whether he can get a work visa as he will not be able to enter the country to take up the job offer.
I have been terminated with the reason given that the company is downsizing but they are still hiring employees. They gave me one month’s notice but I want to take my holiday a few days before my final work date as I have already booked the ticket. My leave was approved but now they are saying I cannot go. I am willing to let them hold my final settlement until I come back as a guarantee of my return. Can I complain about the company for this?
KY, Abu Dhabi
There are two issues here. An employer has the right to agree when an employee takes their annual leave and this is covered in Article 76 of UAE Labour Law, which states that ... ‘the employer may determine the date of the commencement of the annual leave …’ and Article 117 refers to the standard notice period of 30 days. The employer is not obliged to permit any annual leave during a notice period, although they can come to an agreement in circumstances such as this. They cannot, however, be forced to do this and a complaint to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation for this reason will not upheld. I suggest asking the employer if the final service date can be brought forward and payment calculated to that date.
If an employer is taking on staff in the exact same role, and an employee has not been terminated for documented poor performance or another valid reason, then there may be a case for arbitrary dismissal and thus compensation. This is covered in Article 123 of UAE Labour Law, which states: “Should the worker be arbitrarily dismissed, the competent court may order the employer to pay a compensation to the worker. The court shall assess such compensation, taking into account the type of work and the extent of damage incurred to the worker as well as the duration of employment and after the investigation of the work conditions. In all cases, the amount of compensation shall not exceed the wage of the worker for a period of three months calculated on the basis of the last due wage.” If KY wishes to pursue this she will need to register a case at the MoHRE or at her local labour office.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and Senior Partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 years’ experience. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at
The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only