Dubai based expats must clear debts at airport before leaving

Published:  26 Mar at 6 PM
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Expat workers leaving the emirate will now be able to clear unpaid loans and credit at the airport’s electronic cash register.

Dubai’s laws forbid international travel for those who have unpaid credit cards or loans, with many expats unable to leave for even short home visits unless they first clear all their debts. A number have been arrested for attempting to leave without complying, and others have been hauled before the courts to sort out their finances.

Although many expat workers are in favour of the new system, others have been prevented from making emergency visits home to visit sick or dying relatives. An ongoing problem has been that UAE banks are slow to update credit payment records or cancel loans which have already been paid off.

Immigration Control is now able to issue a printed account showing any debts still due, and the electronic cash register will allow expats to clear the debts before being allowed to travel by Dubai police. A receipt is given and a copy is sent to the relevant bank.

The system was put in place on 20 March, and payments can be made by cash, credit card or debit card. Other Gulf states are expected to follow Dubai’s example, with travel bans given to around 42,000 expats in Kuwait last January.

Kuwait operates a pay-as-you-leave facility at its international airport, but none are provided at its border crossings. Similar problems in Bahrain and Qatar have been reported by expat workers, with many stating they were held by Qatari immigration officers on notifications from the UAE about unpaid debts.

Courts in the Gulf states have attempted in the past to extradite UK expats to face trial over unpaid debts. However, the UK authorities state that extraditions do not take place over civil matters.
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