Homeless Scot in Dubai is a warning to newly arrived expats

Published:  9 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, Dubai, UAE
A failed expat in Dubai is homeless and heavily in debt due to getting caught up in the emirate’s luxury lifestyle.

Scot Jonathan Castle first arrived in Dubai in 2002, attracted by the high wages and luxury lifestyle of successful expats in the emirate. He soon found a well-paying job as a copywriter for a well-known advertising agency, where he stayed until 2010. Sadly, like many other expats seduced by the ‘Dubai lifestyle’, he took advantage of credit cards offered by Emirates Bank and began living the life he’d always dreamed of.

It’s no surprise Castle’s dreams turned to nightmares as he fell behind on payments and soon realised Dubai’s loan businesses were supported by the dark side of the shining city. Heavies and aggressive debt collectors came to his place of work and inundated him with threatening phone calls, with one even telling his wife she should become a prostitute to help her husband pay off his debts. Struggling to cope, he sold his car, cut right back on his lifestyle and moved to a far cheaper district, but still wasn’t able to meet his payment schedule.

Dubai, unlike most other countries, considers debt as a criminal offence attracting substantial jail sentences, with Castle now sleeping on sofas in various friends’ homes, living off handouts and still being harassed and threatened by aggressive debt collector heavies. He told reported he’s under terrifying stress from the constant threats of imprisonment as well as the vivid descriptions of what would happen to him once he’s in prison. As he’s been officially accused of debt, he can’t renew his visa, nor can he work, nor can he leave the country until his debts are paid off.

According to Detained in Dubai, the emirate’s laws as regards debt are desperately in need of revision as they simply don’t make sense and don’t facilitate debt recovery. Castle’s bank is fully aware he can’t pay if he’s in jail, nor can he get a job to help pay, meaning the bank is effectively taking him hostage by using a legal strategy aimed at his eventual imprisonment. It’s a sad tale as well as a warning to expats about the reality behind Dubai’s glittering frontage.
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