x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Prescriptions often need approval before travelling to UAE

On Your Side Plus questions about installing a pool fence at a rental property, off-plan mortgages and end-of-service payments, answered by The National's consumer advocate.

My mother will be coming to stay with me in January. Because she is quite elderly, she takes a number of tablets prescribed by her doctor in Scotland, one of which seems to be restricted in the UAE. I don't want her to get into trouble, so can you tell me what she should do to bring them in without problems? EW, Dubai

Some prescribed and over-the-counter medicines that are available in the UK are considered controlled substances here and such medication cannot be brought into the UAE without prior permission from the Ministry of Health. If a traveller arrives in the UAE without this permission and the required documentation, the medication will not be allowed into the UAE and the person may be subject to prosecution under UAE law. A full list of the controlled medications can be found on the Ministry of Health's website. The latest guidelines issued from the ministry state that a visitor entering or transiting the UAE who is carrying controlled drugs should have in their possession a valid medical prescription (if the original has been retained by the dispensing pharmacy, an attested copy of the prescription should be carried) and an authenticated certificate and/or permit from the health authority of the country of departure confirming that the traveller has legal authority to possess the drugs. Visitors should not carry more than 30 days' worth of the prescription. A visitor carrying regular medicines (prescription-only medicines) can bring into the UAE up to three months' worth provided they have the valid medical prescription.

My wife and I bought an off-plan apartment in late 2008. We were initially told that it would be completed in June 2010, then subsequently in December 2010 and July 2011. It will now be ready for handover in March 2012, or so we have been told in the handover letter that was sent to us. Within the sales agreement, it is specified that if the apartment is not completed by June 2010, the buyer will be entitled to compensation, although it doesn't specify what the compensation will be. When I approached the developer's lawyers to ask what the compensation would be, I was told that because we signed an assignment agreement with the bank with which we have the mortgage, all rights and obligations lie between the bank and the developer. We had to sign the assignment agreement, otherwise we would not have been given the mortgage. It appears that I cannot claim any compensation. Can this be correct? GN, Abu Dhabi

I have lost count of the number of stories I have been told of severely delayed handovers of off-plan homes. Most tales are similar, in that substantial deposits have been paid and the purchaser is fobbed off. In almost all cases, contracts are written to protect the developer, not the buyer. In this case, it appears that GN has a valid complaint because it involves a Sharia mortgage. A Sharia mortgage involves an actual transfer of the property title to the lender and the borrower effectively becomes a tenant. As a result, the rights and obligations that were the borrower's under the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with the developer now rest with the bank. It is likely that GN and his wife signed a document fully releasing the bank from any responsibility, but by the same token, the bank could assign any rights to compensation back to him. This is a generic comment and anyone in this situation may benefit from specific legal advice based on their personal situation.

We have recently rented a villa that has a private swimming pool in the backyard. We have two young children and are concerned for their safety because the pool does not have a fence around it. We understand that the landlord is responsible and liable for any permanent fixtures and we assume that the swimming pool would be regarded as a permanent fixture. We researched the cost of a movable security fence for the pool and approached the landlord to ask him to buy and install one, but he has told us that it is our responsibility. Although it is not that expensive, we don't see why we should pay for it and would like to know how we can insist on the landlord organising this. AR, Dubai

Although it is the landlord's responsibility to maintain any permanent fixtures and the pool may be regarded as such, he is not responsible for something that isn't already there. Because you knew there was a swimming pool at the property, the issue could have been raised before the contract was signed to see if he would install this as part of the deal. You have entered into a rental contract that has made it the occupier's responsibility, so the landlord is correct in declining to pay or arrange for the fence. This is something that you will need to pay for yourself to make the garden safer for your children.


I have been with my current employer for nearly three years and am thinking about quitting to work elsewhere in the UAE. According to the law, what am I entitled to be paid if I leave? CT, Dubai

Under UAE Labour Law, you will be entitled to a reduced amount of end-of-service gratuity because you are planning to resign. The standard rules are that once you have completed more than 12 months of service, but less than five years, you are entitled to an end-of-service payment equivalent to 21 days' pay for each year, or pro-rata. But assuming you are on an unlimited contract, this is payable at just one third of the standard rate. If you resign after three years of continuous service, but less than five, you are entitled to payment at two-thirds of the standard rate. The end-of-service gratuity calculation is based on your final basic salary, excluding allowances, but including performance related bonuses and commissions.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at onyourside@thenational.ae