Illustration by Alex Belman 
Illustration by Alex Belman 

The Debt Panel: Hospital employee pays Dh1,000 a month in late payment fees on his Dh110,000 liabilities



I have had a debt problem for the last six months and unless it is solved immediately, I will suffer many problems. I was working in the health care industry in Dubai for three years earning Dh7,700. Now I work in Fujairah as a medical laboratory technologist earning Dh9,000. My end of service gratuity from my last job, of about Dh9,000, was taken by the bank I have the loan with. Due to a personal financial crisis, for the last four months I have been paying Dh1,000 in fees such as late payment fees and over limit utilisation. I need to clear the outstanding payments with a loan of about Dh10,000 to Dh20,000 so that I can live without paying this Dh1,000 every month. In about two months, I will complete six months in the new company and then I can take a consolidation loan or a top up.

My debts are:  outstanding / monthly payment

Loan 1: Dh95,000 / Dh3,275

Credit card 1: Dh6,783 / Dh653

Credit card 2: Dh7,839 / Dh653

I borrowed the money two years ago (back then the debts were about Dh60,000) to help finance my wife’s business but I lost everything and we are now divorced. When I was living with my wife, my monthly expenses were Dh4,000, now they are about Dh2,500. I also send money to my mother and five children in my home country. The money supports my two sons, who are studying accounting and engineering but I cannot support my three daughters, who are all under 10.  How can I get out of this vicious circle? MA, Fujairah

Debt panellist 1: Shaker Zainal, head of retail banking at CBI bank 

You currently owe approximately  Dh110,000 across two credit cards and a personal loan, and if you continue to miss your monthly payments, this will increase significantly, particularly as you will be accruing a high-rate of interest on missed credit card payments.  You must take decisive action before your debt becomes uncontrollable.

You have not made it clear in your question whether your liabilities are with one or more than one provider or whether you have entered a dialogue with your bank or credit card providers about your financial situation.  Given that your employment tenure is less than six months, you may find it difficult to obtain finance from new lenders. Therefore, initiate a discussion with your existing primary bank to kick-start your plan to become debt free.

You can discuss the potential to restructure your loan and convert your remaining card debt into the existing personal loan to create a consolidated single monthly payment, all be it with a longer repayment tenure. You should present a plan that demonstrates the full extent of all your liabilities and current monthly payments as well as present a repayment plan which is feasible and well-thought out. Your plan should take into account your salary, current financial commitments and monthly expenses. Remember, you will only benefit from your restructured finance if you do not incur any fresh debts, so it is important you can remain financially disciplined and can commit yourself 100 per cent to the revised repayment plan and longer loan repayment tenure.

Make sure all correspondence with your banks is in writing to guarantee you have an accurate record of your discussions should you need to refer to them at a later date.

You must also find ways to cut costs and increase your income: If possible, can you ask a close relative for an interest-free loan, can you move to cheaper accommodation and you must also reduce all unnecessary spending. Finally, if you have assets available, you may consider selling some of them to reduce your overall debt burden.

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Read more:

The Debt Panel: Former Dubai executive struggling to repay Dh380,000 loan following job loss

The Debt Panel: Single mother of four is being hounded by debt collectors over Dh43,000

The Debt Panel: Dubai business owner financed his failing SME with credit cards

Personal finance in the UAE: Residents track finances better but struggle with saving and debt

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Debt panellist 2: Steve Cronin, founder of DeadSimpleSaving.com, which helps residents invest sensibly

I'm sorry to hear you lost everything backing your wife’s business. It appears you have got back on your own two feet with the new job and just need to get through this rough patch.

At the moment the fees are preventing you from paying back the loans properly. I suggest talking to your bank and explaining your situation – talk to the most senior person you can find. You have a better-paid job now so you have positive news for the bank. They may even be prepared to give you a payment holiday or halt the late payment fees for the next two months.

Avoid taking a loan to pay off the penalty charges from another loan – ideally ask the bank to restructure the entire loan. Talk to one or two other banks also, as they may be willing to take on the entire loan at a better rate and on better terms.

Try to minimise your use of credit cards. The balances are fairly low at the moment, but they will grow rapidly. As soon as you are able to start paying the minimum balance on your loan, try to pay off your credit card balances as fast as you can. Avoid putting anything additional on the cards also. If you can get a consolidation loan including your card balances, this should reduce the interest rate on the debt. Be wary of loans with interest rates as high as credit card debt (e.g. 3 per cent per month or 40 per cent per year).

You may have to accept a lesser quality of living for a few months, so you can increase the amount of your monthly income you have left over. See if there are ways to reduce phone bills, travel costs and accommodation costs. Is there a family member or friend who can lend you some money to support your daughters until times are easier?

Look for ways to boost your income – ask your employer if there are additional tasks you can take on, sell some possessions or offer services to others around you or online if you have specific skills. Also, would your sons be able to take on part-time jobs while they are studying?

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Read more:

It is possible to restructure debt directly with UAE banks, a Sharjah resident reveals how

Bounced cheques in UAE: new rules 'a progressive step for the justice system'

A nine-step guide to help you renegotiate bank debts in the UAE

The Debt Panel: 'I've repaid my credit card for two years but the balance barely reduces'

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Debt Panellist 3: Rasheda Khatun Khan, a wealth and wellness planner and founder of Design Your Life

Untangling yourself from the spiral of debt is challenging. The first step is to cut back on your lifestyle costs as much as possible. Consolidating your credit cards is only be a solution if the monthly commitments are affordable. Otherwise you will find yourself in credit card debt again.

Approach the bank you have your personal loan with and request a restructure. Lowering your monthly commitments by stretching the term over a longer period will help with affordability. This option does mean you end up paying more for the loan in the end but right now you must prioritise the monthly affordability. If you have any bonuses from your current job, use them to pay down the credit cards. Start with the card that has the lower balance and try to pay this down first.

It’s always tricky coming out of a loss situation. Losing money to a failed venture can set you back months or even years. It’s so important to ensure that you invest into businesses you can afford to take on. This means you have enough savings to put into the business yourself with minimal borrowing. The minute you borrow money to start a business means you have to generate double figure growth rates just to cover the cost of borrowing before making a profit. It puts a lot of pressure on the entity to succeed.

You have managed to find your way through a divorce and an overall financial loss and made it this far so well done. Now it is time to take back control of your finances.

The Debt Panel is a weekly column to help readers tackle their debts more effectively. If you have a question for the panel, write to pf@thenational.ae

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

The more serious side of specialty coffee

While the taste of beans and freshness of roast is paramount to the specialty coffee scene, so is sustainability and workers’ rights.

The bulk of genuine specialty coffee companies aim to improve on these elements in every stage of production via direct relationships with farmers. For instance, Mokha 1450 on Al Wasl Road strives to work predominantly with women-owned and -operated coffee organisations, including female farmers in the Sabree mountains of Yemen.

Because, as the boutique’s owner, Garfield Kerr, points out: “women represent over 90 per cent of the coffee value chain, but are woefully underrepresented in less than 10 per cent of ownership and management throughout the global coffee industry.”

One of the UAE’s largest suppliers of green (meaning not-yet-roasted) beans, Raw Coffee, is a founding member of the Partnership of Gender Equity, which aims to empower female coffee farmers and harvesters.

Also, globally, many companies have found the perfect way to recycle old coffee grounds: they create the perfect fertile soil in which to grow mushrooms. 

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

LA LIGA FIXTURES

Friday (UAE kick-off times)

Real Sociedad v Leganes (midnight)

Saturday

Alaves v Real Valladolid (4pm)

Valencia v Granada (7pm)

Eibar v Real Madrid (9.30pm)

Barcelona v Celta Vigo (midnight)

Sunday

Real Mallorca v Villarreal (3pm)

Athletic Bilbao v Levante (5pm)

Atletico Madrid v Espanyol (7pm)

Getafe v Osasuna (9.30pm)

Real Betis v Sevilla (midnight)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Winners

Best Men's Player of the Year: Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

Maradona Award for Best Goal Scorer of the Year: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

TikTok Fans’ Player of the Year: Robert Lewandowski

Top Goal Scorer of All Time: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Best Women's Player of the Year: Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)

Best Men's Club of the Year: Chelsea

Best Women's Club of the Year: Barcelona

Best Defender of the Year: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus/Italy)

Best Goalkeeper of the Year: Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG/Italy)

Best Coach of the Year: Roberto Mancini (Italy)

Best National Team of the Year: Italy

Best Agent of the Year: Federico Pastorello

Best Sporting Director of the Year: Txiki Begiristain (Manchester City)

Player Career Award: Ronaldinho

The specs: 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali

Price, base / as tested Dh207,846 / Dh220,000

Engine 6.2L V8

Transmission Eight-speed automatic

Power 420hp @ 5,600rpm

Torque 624Nm @ 4,100rpm

Fuel economy, combined 13.5L / 100km

The specs: Macan Turbo

Engine: Dual synchronous electric motors
Power: 639hp
Torque: 1,130Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Touring range: 591km
Price: From Dh412,500
On sale: Deliveries start in October

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Apple Mac through the years

1984 - Apple unveiled the Macintosh on January 24
1985 - Steve Jobs departed from Apple and established NeXT
1986 - Apple introduced the Macintosh Plus, featuring enhanced memory
1987 - Apple launched the Macintosh II, equipped with colour capabilities
1989 - The widely acclaimed Macintosh SE/30 made its debut
1994 - Apple presented the Power Macintosh
1996 - The Macintosh System Software OS underwent a rebranding as Mac OS
2001 - Apple introduced Mac OS X, marrying Unix stability with a user-friendly interface
2006 - Apple adopted Intel processors in MacBook Pro laptops
2008 - Apple introduced the MacBook Air, a lightweight laptop
2012 - Apple launched the MacBook Pro with a retina display
2016 - The Mac operating system underwent rebranding as macOS
2020 - Apple introduced the M1 chip for Macs, combining high performance and energy efficiency
2022 - The M2 chip was announced
2023 -The M3 line-up of chip was announced to improve performance and add new capabilities for Mac.

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 

FIXTURES (all times UAE)

Sunday
Brescia v Lazio (3.30pm)
SPAL v Verona (6pm)
Genoa v Sassuolo (9pm)
AS Roma v Torino (11.45pm)

Monday
Bologna v Fiorentina (3.30pm)
AC Milan v Sampdoria (6pm)
Juventus v Cagliari (6pm)
Atalanta v Parma (6pm)
Lecce v Udinese (9pm)
Napoli v Inter Milan (11.45pm)

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
WWE Super ShowDown results

Seth Rollins beat Baron Corbin to retain his WWE Universal title

Finn Balor defeated Andrade to stay WWE Intercontinental Championship

Shane McMahon defeated Roman Reigns

Lars Sullivan won by disqualification against Lucha House Party

Randy Orton beats Triple H

Braun Strowman beats Bobby Lashley

Kofi Kingston wins against Dolph Zigggler to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Mansoor Al Shehail won the 50-man Battle Royal

The Undertaker beat Goldberg

 

RACECARD

9pm Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (Dirt) 2,000m
9.30pm Handicap (TB) Dh70,000 (D) 2,000m
10pm Al Ain Cup – Prestige (PA) Dh100,000 (D) 2,000m
10.30pm Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,800m
11pm Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,600m
11.30pm Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,400m
12am Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,400m

BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE

Director: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano

Rating: 3.5/5

Tomb Raider I–III Remastered

Developer: Aspyr
Publisher: Aspyr
Console: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4&5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Co Chocolat

Started: 2017

Founders: Iman and Luchie Suguitan

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Food

Funding: $1 million-plus

Investors: Fahad bin Juma, self-funding, family and friends

JOKE'S ON YOU

Google wasn't new to busting out April Fool's jokes: before the Gmail "prank", it tricked users with mind-reading MentalPlex responses and said well-fed pigeons were running its search engine operations .

In subsequent years, they announced home internet services through your toilet with its "patented GFlush system", made us believe the Moon's surface was made of cheese and unveiled a dating service in which they called founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page "Stanford PhD wannabes ".

But Gmail was all too real, purportedly inspired by one – a single – Google user complaining about the "poor quality of existing email services" and born "millions of M&Ms later".

MATCH INFO

Cricket World Cup League Two
Oman, UAE, Namibia
Al Amerat, Muscat
 
Results
Oman beat UAE by five wickets
UAE beat Namibia by eight runs
Namibia beat Oman by 52 runs
UAE beat Namibia by eight wickets
UAE v Oman - abandoned
Oman v Namibia - abandoned

The specs

Powertrain: Single electric motor
Power: 201hp
Torque: 310Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto
Battery: 53kWh lithium-ion battery pack (GS base model); 70kWh battery pack (GF)
Touring range: 350km (GS); 480km (GF)
Price: From Dh129,900 (GS); Dh149,000 (GF)
On sale: Now

The Bloomberg Billionaire Index in full

1 Jeff Bezos $140 billion
2 Bill Gates $98.3 billion
3 Bernard Arnault $83.1 billion
4 Warren Buffett $83 billion
5 Amancio Ortega $67.9 billion
6 Mark Zuckerberg $67.3 billion
7 Larry Page $56.8 billion
8 Larry Ellison $56.1 billion
9 Sergey Brin $55.2 billion
10 Carlos Slim $55.2 billion

Manchester United v Liverpool

Premier League, kick off 7.30pm (UAE)

The specs

Engine: 6-cylinder, 4.8-litre
Transmission: 5-speed automatic and manual
Power: 280 brake horsepower
Torque: 451Nm
Price: from Dh153,00
On sale: now

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now


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