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  • Detained in Dubai

Emirates NBD customers unable to access banking services

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

For nearly a week, ENBD customers have been denied access to withdraw or transfer funds, causing concerns that the bank is freezing outflows amidst the economic downturn.  Radha Stirling explains that these fears are justified, and UAE banks provide little or no security for expats.

Image courtesy of Arabian Business

For the past several days Emirates NBD customers in the UAE have been panicking.  The website has not been working, the ATMs are not working, the ENBD app isn’t working.  No one has been able access their accounts, no one can withdraw or transfer funds; some people have been unable to even confirm that their accounts still exist.

Understandably, customers fear that their money is not secure.  The bank issued an apology for the service failures, saying that they are in an upgrade process that has disrupted their online and mobile app systems; but two days after that explanation, and customers were still unable to access their funds.

ENBD’s first quarter profits fell 24% as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the overall economic outlook in the UAE has weakened.  Customers worry that the “teething problems” ENBD claims it is experiencing because of a system upgrade may actually be a deliberate restriction to prevent money from being taken out of the bank.

It is a valid concern. Historically, banks in the UAE have panicked in economic downturns, and when they panic, they can be ruthless.

- Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai,

Stirling notes that in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2009, UAE banks were merciless,  “Banks abruptly closed lines of credit for businesses, called in loans that still had years left in their payment schedules, seized development projects and foreclosed on mortgages.  In the past, we have seen banks in the Emirates take short term decisions to secure their profitability that led to long term problems for customers; decisions that actually caused loan defaults and bounced cheques that would not have otherwise happened.  The banks are never accountable for the financial troubles they create for private individuals, but in the UAE, these financial troubles often lead to criminal charges, convictions, jail time and Interpol Red Notices.  So, the fear and frustration among ENBD customers right now is very unders