'I left the UAE and didn't close my bank account. Will I have a problem transiting through Dubai?'

It's best to contact the bank directly to clarify the situation and establish if they have raised a police case

Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai. Former UAE residents should close down their bank accounts when leaving the country. Courtesy DWC
Powered by automated translation

When I left Dubai in January 2019, I kept my UAE bank account open with about Dh2,000 in it and still had a credit card. I intended to return to the UAE last year, but Covid-19 prevented me from coming back. I never closed the account or cancelled the credit card, but the card had nothing on it and I have not used it since I left.

I am going to be transiting through Dubai later this year, but have heard that leaving accounts open can be a problem. As my visa was cancelled, is it possible that the bank closed the bank account and credit card? Am I likely to have any problems when I transit through the airport? BD, France

In most cases, if there is no activity on a UAE bank account for a period of six months, the account will be marked as dormant, so effectively frozen. However, this does not mean that there will not be any charges applied to the account.

Some banks will charge a "maintenance" fee on any account, even one that is inactive, especially if they are not receiving monthly salary payments. This means that a balance can erode over time and can even leave the account in deficit. The same applies to credit cards, perhaps even more so, as most cards have an annual fee and even if the card is not being used, the fee is chargeable.

If the amounts are small, it is unlikely that the bank will have taken any action but it is always better to err on the side of caution and check with the bank itself. One should never assume that any situation will be fine in a case such as this.

BD needs to contact the bank directly to clarify the situation and establish that they have not raised a police case. I would suggest getting this in writing and taking a copy of it when you are travelling. Transiting is rarely a problem, but there are cases where there are delays and people have had to enter the UAE. Having a police case in the system would lead to detention on entering the country.

Whatever the outcome, it would be wise to formally close the bank account and cancel the credit card. It is important to get this confirmation in writing to avoid any issues in the future but be aware that the bank has the right to charge a fee for this small service.

I work for a semi-government entity in Sharjah. The company does not issue labour contracts from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. Instead, I have signed a limited contract of employment that states the employee may resign from the company by giving three months’ notice in writing.

I resigned on January 21, 2021. I informed the company that I have some personal issues and could serve only one month's notice, but could pay a penalty for the short notice. The company is now insisting that I serve two months' notice. How can I fight this as I can't go to the ministry without a labour contract? JJ, Sharjah

There are two points to be addressed here. JJ has been working for a semi-government entity and it has always been the case that the UAE Labour Law does not apply.

In this case, the employer is being reasonable by permitting a shorter notice period of just two months

This is stated at the start of the published legislation, which states: “The provisions hereof shall not apply to the following categories: a) Employees and workers of the Federal Government and the governmental departments in the Emirates, members of the State, the employees and workers in public entities and institutions, whether Federal or local, and employees and workers appointed for governmental, Federal and local projects.”

Government employers and employees do not fall under the remit of the ministry. Government employers broadly follow the provisions of the UAE Labour Law and, in some regards, government employees have additional benefits. They do not use standard labour contracts, but issue their own legal contracts.

JJ signed a contract of employment, which stated the terms of his employment. This included a notice period of three months and as he signed the contract, he agreed to these terms. This means that he is obliged to provide his employer with three months’ notice if he wishes to leave. He cannot reduce this as he would be breaking the terms of the agreement.

In this case, the employer is being reasonable by permitting a shorter notice period of just two months and JJ has no grounds to argue as he accepted the notice period by signing the employment contract.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only