x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Ask Ali: Paying duty on UAE jewellery, and Arab proverbs with a twist

Ali Al Saloom offers advice on airport customs

Dear Ali: Is there a limit on the amount of jewellery one can buy and take out of the UAE? LL, United States

Dear LL: You are welcome to shop until you drop.

There are no limits on how much jewellery you can buy in the UAE. But once you take your new bling-bling back home, keep in mind that you must declare purchases made abroad at customs. Depending on the values, you might have to pay duties.

The duty-free exemption, also called the personal exemption, is the total value of merchandise you may bring back to the US without having to pay duty.

You may bring back more than your exemption, but you will have to pay duty on it. In most cases, the personal exemption is US$800 (Dh2,938), but there are some exceptions to this rule.

Oh, and don't forget to bargain - this is what we do here whenever and wherever we shop.


Dear Ali: Can you share some Arabic proverbs that convey a message or a moral in a wise and witty manner? AT, United Kingdom

Dear AT: Arabic proverbs are wise and witty (and sometimes sound weird), and they do make people think, understand - or get more confused.

We are known for having some of the most interesting proverbs in the world, and we often depend on them in our daily lives. Let me share some with you:

On debt: Man saddad edyoono namat eyoono (He who has paid his debts can close his eyes, or "sleeps well"; known in the West as "Out of debt, out of danger").

On chances: Khayrha fi ghairha (A better one in another one, or "Better luck next time").

On hospitality: We tend to have a rule in our homes that when someone visiting has stayed long enough, the hosts will pass some incense (bukhoor) to send the indirect message that it's time to leave. So the proverb goes: Baad al oud, ma fi quood (After the incense is passed there is no sitting on).

Another proverb, which is one of my favourites because it sounds so funny and cute, is: Tity tity, mithel ma rehti, mithel ma jeity (As you went, so you came back; it's like "Same same nothing different" or "So what else is new?").

Finally, one that relates to my area of passion - culture. I always use this when I meet people who don't show signs of acceptance to different cultures, faiths and traditions: Al jahil adu nafsah (The ignorant person is his own enemy).


Dear Ali: I have served in the Royal Marines. Can a European citizen join the UAE Navy? If so, how do I go about doing so? What does it involve? JJ, Abu Dhabi

Dear JJ: Our military forces accept only UAE citizens. However, our military and police offices do employ consultants, and such positions are open to any nationality, although I'm sure there are some security exceptions from time to time.

Consultancy positions with our military forces and police require specific qualifications. I recommend that people who are interested approach these entities directly, learn about the job openings and submit their CVs.

The Saaed traffic police in Abu Dhabi do welcome and train various nationalities.


Language lesson

Arabic: Shebriya

English: Bed

Say you are looking for your shoes and a friend tells you they're under the bed. In Arabic, she would say: "Tahet el shebriya".