Keren Bobker gives advice on bank accounts for non-working women, police checks, and credit card problems.
Women who do not work can open an account at NBAD
I am a non-working woman and a resident of the UAE under my husband's sponsorship. I have read that if my husband dies, any bank account in his name will be frozen for quite some time and this worries me as I have two children to look after. I want to open an account in my own name, but our bank has told me that they cannot do this as I do not have a salary. They can only give me a "linked" account, which rather defeats the object. Do you know of any banks that will let me open an account without having a salary?
MG Abu Dhabi
A number of banks will permit non-working individuals to open basic accounts, although these are sometimes little more than simple savings accounts. Most banks also levy charges or have a requirement for a minimum balance. I suggest you look at an account offered by National Bank of Abu Dhabi. Their Al Nadha accounts are designed for women, do not require you to deposit a regular salary and have a minimum opening balance of just Dh1,000. The fee for the current account is Dh10 per annum and it provides a cheque book and debit card. Any woman aged 21 or over is eligible for the account.
I will shortly be taking up a new job offer in Singapore. My new employers have told me that before I start work, I need to provide them with a "police certificate". This is for their own purposes, but also for immigration. I have never had anything to do with the police in Dubai, so I have no idea if they even have any information on me. Can you tell me how I organise such a thing?
These checks are often required in respect of certain employment, as it is essentially a "Good Conduct Certification Request" and can be obtained quite easily. You can do this at major police stations where they will supply the form, although it now appears possible to apply for this certificate online. You will require your passport and need to be a UAE resident for at least six months for a certificate to be issued. Two passport photographs are required, along with a fee of Dh35. This can be paid by bank draft payable to "Dubai Police HQ" or in cash. A receipt will be issued. You will then usually wait for between three and seven days before the check is complete and a certificate is available for collection. Certificates are valid for three months only. More information can be found on the Dubai Police website at www.dubaipolice.gov.ae, under the slightly misleading link of "Criminal Record Verification".
On May 31, I opened an account with Emirates NBD (ENBD) at its Mina Seyahi office. Seven days later, I activated the card. On the same day, I tried to withdraw some cash from the ATM, but it was declined. I went into the branch and spoke to a personal banking adviser, who told me that the ATM was not working properly. However, it was working for people before and after me. On June 15, I attempted to withdraw money from an ATM and yet again the transaction was declined. I spoke to the same personal banking adviser, who looked at her system and told me my card was not activated. I showed her my receipts stating that it had been and she apparently lodged a complaint on the bank's system, but told me that I had to contact their call centre and that the issue could not be resolved by a branch. On June 19, my card was declined again, so I went to a different branch to withdraw money over the counter. They also logged a complaint and arranged for a pin code to be sent to my phone. On June 25, I tried to use the card to pay for lunch at The Atlantis hotel, but the card was declined. I went back to the Mina Seyahi branch on June 28, but they told me to return to the other branch and the card was apparently activated all over again. On July 4, I returned to the branch to make a cash withdrawal and they arranged for a third authorisation code to reset my PIN. My transactions were declined again on July 10 and 14, and I went to the Mina Seyahi branch on August 5, but yet again the staff were not interested in helping. By August 31, the card was still not working.
The problem was referred to the external communication department at ENBD and after a couple of weeks they advised: "The customer's ATM card transactions were declined on the first few occasions due to [an] invalid pin. However, her subsequent ATM transaction attempts were not successful as the wrong account type was selected on the ATM. Our call centre representatives had clarified to the customer the reason for [the] decline of her ATM transactions. The bank once again requested her to verify and confirm if she is able to use her debit card as requested by our call centre." NV has confirmed that her card is now operational, but it appears that if the staff at the Mina Seyahi branch had taken the time to deal with their customer properly, then the matter could have been resolved without weeks of frustration.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at email@example.com with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter. Letters can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org