Don’t Dent the Expat Lifestyle with Dodgy Debt!

Arabian Chest CRacking up dodgy debts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) city of Dubai can dent the lavish expat lifestyle – and land you behind bars if you’re not careful.

Unlike here in the UK, where for many Brits a personal loan and credit card debt is unfortunately part and parcel of everyday life, the buy-now-pay-later attitude is frowned upon big time in the mainly conservative Arab world.

Defaulting on a personal loan or any kind of debt can mean prison in the UAE, so cut down on the partying and dubious dealings and live within your means. Take a grip of the personal banking. That way you won’t fall prey to any temptation.

Around one million Britons visit the UAE every year without causing any problems, says the UK government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). And more than 100,000 British nationals are resident there.

The FCO warns, “Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques (including post-dated and ‘security cheques’) and the non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), are regarded extremely seriously in the UAE and can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine. Bank accounts and other assets can also be frozen.

“Bail is generally not available to non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for financial crimes. Convicted individuals will not generally be released from jail until the debt is paid or waived and they may even remain in jail after a debt has been paid, if there is an outstanding sentence to be served.”

Living within your means seems to be a message more and more people in Britain are taking on board. National debt charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) is seeing a marked decline in problem credit card debt. The number of people seeking its help with their credit card debt is decreasing, going down from the peak of 170,363 in 2009 to 161,451 in 2010, and 149,475 in 2011.

While 76,368 people have sought its help with their credit card debt in the first half of 2012, this is a decline on 80,971 for the first half of 2011, and 85,315 for the first half of 2010.

However, the level at which credit card debt becomes problematic has dropped, with the average credit card debt for those seeking CCCS’s help going down by almost three thousand pounds, from £13,196 in 2009 to £10,517 in 2012.

The average number of credit cards for a CCCS client has also gone down, from 3.3 in 2007 to 2.8 in 2012.

Delroy Corinaldi, CCCS external affairs director said, “Problem credit card debt is on the decline, which may be the result of people paying down their debt, less access to this type of credit or a combination of both.

“Whatever the reason, while fewer people are struggling with credit card debt, lower levels of credit card debt are becoming problematic. “This highlights the impact of the economic downturn on household budgets, how people are struggling to keep up with their debt repayments despite having less credit card debt to manage.”

Craig Jones of The UK Cards Association, the trade body for card issuers, added, “Responsible lending is at the heart of the credit card industry’s service to its customers. It’s brought into even greater focus because we know customers are under pressure, due to the current economic climate, and because it’s never in lenders’ interests to lend to customers who will not be able to repay.

“Our members operate sophisticated systems to ensure they can identify customers who may be at risk of falling into unmanageable debt, following which they will intervene at an early stage to provide support. However, we are not complacent and will keep working to strike the appropriate balance between ensuring access to credit, while also supporting customers who are at risk of debt problems.”


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