'Will I have problems transiting through Dubai Airport over a dormant bank account?'

The former UAE resident did not close the account before leaving the UAE in 2014

The reader will be transiting through Dubai International Airport in a few weeks time and is worried the old account may cause issues. Randi Sokoloff / The National
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When I left Dubai in 2014, there was some money in my UAE bank account and I still had a credit card. I thought I might return and indeed did so in 2015, but only for a week. I never closed my personal account or cancelled the credit card, but the card had nothing outstanding. While I transferred the bulk of my funds out of my account, I left about Dh1,300 in it. I am going to be transiting through Dubai in a few weeks’ time and it occurred to me that sometimes people have had problems with this. My hope is that this account will be considered dormant and, as my visa was cancelled, the bank will have shut down the accounts and taken the money I had. Is this the most likely scenario? Obviously, I want to avoid any issues when I transit through the airport. NR, UK

While any bank account that has been dormant for six months will generally be frozen, charges may still accrue. It is not unusual for some banks to charge a ‘maintenance’ fee on any account, even one that is inactive, and so any balance can erode in time and even leave the account in deficit. The same applies to credit cards, perhaps even more so, as most cards have an annual fee, which is charged even if the card is not being used.

If the amounts are small, it is unlikely a bank will take action but it is always better to err on the side of caution and check with the bank itself. Never assume that any situation is fine in a case such as this. NR needs to contact the bank directly to clarify the situation and establish that a police case has not been raised. Transiting is rarely a problem but there are cases where travellers have to enter the UAE due to delays and end up being  detained at immigration.

Whatever the outcome, it would be wise to formally close the bank account and cancel the credit card to avoid any future concerns. It is important to get this confirmation in writing.


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I work for a company on an unlimited contract and recently submitted my resignation but my visa will expire in 20 days while I'm still in my notice period, which as per my contract is two months. Do I still need to serve my full notice period even though my visa is expiring and then work without a visa for the remaining 40 days?  What are the alternatives? Can my employer renew it for just 40 days and then cancel it?  KT, Dubai

Under UAE law, no one is permitted to carry out any work without a suitable and valid visa. This means their employer or sponsor, often the same entity, must have arranged a residency visa for any work to be undertaken without breaking the law. If anyone works without a visa, both the employee and employer can be subject to substantial penalties.

For KT to work his full notice period legally, his employer needs to renew the residency visa and this process should be started before the existing one expires. There are expenses for doing so; the fee for the visa itself is not high (about Dh250 for a private sector or free zone employee), though the employer must also pay for health insurance and the Emirates Identity Card. There is a grace period of 30 days after expiry during which a person can continue working for the same company. What would be sensible in this case would be for both parties to agree to work a shorter notice period so that employment ends when the grace period expires, some 50 days after resignation, and the employer can then simply arrange for cancellation. Note that both parties need to agree to this course of action.


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I am doing the same job as four other people at my company but have found out that the men are being paid 20 per cent more than the women for the same work and the same hours. Before I make a complaint, is there is anything in the law that deals with this. PR, Abu Dhabi

The subject of equal pay is covered in UAE Labour Law and Article 32 states that: "The female worker shall be granted a wage equal to that of the man should she be performing the same work." This is very clear and more employers would do well to familiarise themselves with the law. Furthermore, in April of this year, the UAE Cabinet approved a law on equal wages and salaries. This is the Law on Equal Wages and Salaries for Men and Women and is intended to close the gender gap in the workplace. The UAE also has a Gender Balance Council, demonstrating the country's commitment to this issue.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 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