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article imageExpats Flee Dubai

By Naved Akhtar     Feb 7, 2009 in World
Thousands of British expats are abandoning their cars at Dubai airport and using the remaining credit on their bank cards to flee back home rather than risk debtors’ jail. Debtors unable to pay their debts can be imprisoned in Dubai under sharia law.
The global economic crisis has put a dampener on the tax free dream life in the Gulf with many expatriates being many redundant and unable to pay their loans. Dubai’s property prices have slumped by more than half in a matter of months.
Dubai police are finding many cars abandoned by the international terminal with the keys either left in the ignition or stored in the glove compartment.
Debtors unable to pay their debts can be imprisoned in Dubai under their sharia law, in the same way debtors were imprisoned in England in the Victorian times. So rather than face jail the expats are leaving the country before anyone realises how much money they owe. Some expats have even left apologetic notes on the car dashboard explaining that their circumstances left them no choice.
During the good times, Dubai’s banks eagerly lent money without too many stringent checks. There is no central credit authority in Dubai so banks would lend money with just a blank undated cheque as collateral. When a debtor failed to make a repayment or the cheque bounced, he or she would have committed an offence under Dubai law so would be imprisoned until a friend or relative could pay the outstanding debt. In 2007, 42 per cent of the 3,000 inmates in Dubai’s central jail were there because they were unable to repay bank loans.
Property prices are expected to fall by up to 60 per cent this year which has resulted in more than 50 per cent of Dubai’s construction projects being postponed or cancelled. Initially this resulted in manual labourers leaving Dubai but now is starting to affect richer white collar workers.
Labour laws in Dubai only allow redundancy victims one month to find new employment before their visa is revoked and they have to leave the country. Around 1,500 visas are currently being cancelled every day in Dubai.
More about Dubai, Credit crunch, Economic crisis, Expats, British
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