‘In jail I couldn’t pay my bills so my sentence was increased’

Yehya Ali, 37, has a debt of about Dh2m for unpaid wages, rent and bank loans.

Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // Yehya Ali was arrested for a third time last year – on his doorstep.

“It’s as if we are wanted for murder,” the Emirati said. “I picked up my son from the park right across of our house and as I was walking into the door they arrested me. There were police everywhere. They surrounded the house and were on the roof.

“I begged them to not do this in front of my children and the neighbours.”

Mr Ali, 37, has debt of about Dh2 million for unpaid wages, rent and bank loans.

“I opened several pet shops and took a loan for the business and housing loan. I was fine but it all started crashing down when I was fired from my job because of an injury.”

Initially Mr Ali couldn’t pay a car and housing loan for Dh240,000. While in jail, he said he couldn’t run his business or pay his employees. He was pardoned for the Dh240,000 while in jail but his employees and the landlords had already filed cases against him.

“I had my sentence increased and couldn’t settle things or see that the shops be sold while I was inside. The employees also took off with everything but not before filing a case against me for late wages. I begged the judge to let me go to settle my business but he refused.”

Only after completing his sentence was he released for one month to settle a debt for more than two million. “There was no way I could pay that. I begged again for more time but they said I had to pay.”

He fled but in September he handed himself in to the police and was in jail for six months.

“My children had to be enrolled in school and need my passport and their passports renewed. As long as I was wanted then I could not do that.”

He was released for three months to settle his debts but could not. Police are again looking for him.

“I cant go to my children’s school graduation and have missed every event in their life but what option do I have? I can’t step outside the house. So my wife buys the groceries, fixes the car, takes the children to the doctor. I stay home but at least I can see my kids and be with them and put them to bed. I can’t imagine going to jail and being away from them again – this time it will be for three years.”