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  • Detained in Dubai

The truth about leaving a debt behind in Dubai.

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

Common myths explained by the debt team at Detained in Dubai.


Unlike Western countries, the UAE treats debt as a criminal matter rather than a civil one.  The result being that if a borrower is late with payments, they can be sentenced to jail for up to three years.  However, the debt is not cleared because of this sentence, only the “criminal” act of not paying it/the instalments due.  After the initial sentence the debtor is freed for thirty days to allow them to arrange payment of the money due.  If they do not have the money to pay, a civil case is then taken by the creditor, and the debt victim is sent back into jail indefinitely, until the money is paid.




(Update regarding the new 2020 UAE Personal Insolvency Act)


This doesn’t make sense to a Westerner used to the protection of bankruptcy laws.  After all, if the debtor is in prison, how can they ever earn money to pay the debt? Unfortunately the Dubai banks think differently to their Western counterparts.  Instead of seeing the debtor as an income source they think of them as a hostage that some wealthy relative may sell a property to set free.  


  • HSBC UAE country head Abdulfattah Sharaf ex