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Welcome to Dubai
You enjoy a huge hike in salary compared to back home. Your employer has thrown in accommodation as part of the employment package. You cruise in the latest luxury SUV. Taxes â€“ what taxes?
The expatriate lifestyle sure feels sweet!
But cost of living is very much a relative state of affairs, or should that be state of mind? Dubai is a city like no other, ready to help separate the foolish from their hard-earned cash. Live the high life and pretty soon you’ll feel as poor as the proverbial church mouse before each month’s end. Don’t think about a personal loan to tide you over either or to pay off any debts. It’s the sort of slippery slope frowned upon in Muslim countries across the Middle East. Live within your means unless you want to end up behind bars.
Some Important Laws of Dubai
Dubai is governed by Sharia laws, which, to Westerners, can often appear harsh and unyielding. People can be sent to prison for being unable to pay off their debt.
According to a recent article in the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK, an average of 2,500 people left the United Arab Emirates every month last year, with some of them leaving behind unpaid debts.
The article adds, â€œWriting a cheque which bounces is a criminal offence and there are no clear bankruptcy laws. This means that banks can be inflexible and unclear on repayments of loans.
â€œHowever, for those Brits who leave Dubai without paying their debts they could still end up in trouble. Once they have left the UAE, a creditor could pass a criminal file onto Interpol.â€
It’s always a smart idea to get to know the laws of the country you intend visiting or living in because ignorance is never a defence, anywhere. Good personal finance is vital. Bank loans are readily available but never borrow more than you can comfortably pay back. Watch out for exorbitant interest rates and use a loan calculator, if there is one, so you know roughly what the monthly repayments are likely to be.
The UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice is well worth reading in advance of any visit to the UAE. The advice is useful for all visitors, not just those from the UK.
Around one million British nationals visit the UAE every year and most visits are trouble-free, says the FCO. Visitors are not only strongly advised to familiarize themselves with local laws and customs, but they should respect them, too, because they form the foundation of the UAE’s rich cultural traditions.
The FCO says, “Hobbies that involve cameras and binoculars, such as bird watching and plane spotting, may be misunderstood – particularly near military sites, government buildings and airports.
The importation of narcotics, pork products and pornography into the UAE is illegal. Videos, books, and magazines may be subject to scrutiny and may be censored.
There is zero tolerance for drugs-related offences. The penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession, of even residual amounts, of drugs are severe.
Non-Muslim residents can obtain liquor licences to consume alcohol in private homes. Alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs, but it is a punishable offence to drink, or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public.
Women should dress modestly when in public areas, such as shopping malls. Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible. Swimming attire should be worn only on beaches or at swimming pools, and not in other public areas.
Swearing or making rude gestures is considered an obscene act and offenders can be prosecuted. Offenders have, in the past, received six-month jail sentences for such acts, and some have been deported.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public.
Cross-dressing is illegal.
Sex outside of marriage is illegal and if any offenders are brought to the attention of the UAE authorities they run the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation. Same sex marriages are not recognized.
It is against the law to live together or share the same hotel room with someone of the opposite sex to whom you are not married or closely related. Homosexual relationships are illegal.
This is not to scare you but just to inform you about some of the laws in Dubai and UAE which might not be that apparent to some visitors and expats.
The FCO website has a lot more detailed information available and is well worth bookmarking in order to keep up to date. Check it out here.