UAE legal Q&A: Can I be given a travel ban because of an outstanding loan?

Can I rent or drive a car in the UAE using my international driving licence if I am not carrying my passport as I am waiting for the issuance of my entry visa?

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Q: I live in the UAE but have an outstanding loan from Kuwait from about a year ago. As I was unemployed I have only made very small payments on the loan in the past year

. I now have a full-time job but a debt collector in America has been calling me threatening me with a travel ban, since there is a National Bank of Kuwait in the UAE. I have applied for a loan here in the UAE that I should be getting at the end of June to pay off the loan in Kuwait. However, the amount the debt collector is asking is way too much, so I would like to approach the Kuwait bank branch in the UAE and ask if I can pay back what I can. I work as cabin crew so I would lose my job if I had a travel ban. Can they actually ban me from travel, even though I'm still based in the GCC? And do you think that if I approach the bank they would listen to me and accept the money at the end of June?

A: If the loan agreement doesn't have any jurisdiction limitation (that is, Kuwaiti courts only) the bank, as it has a branch in the UAE, can approach the courts here to try and implement a travel ban by showing documents that show the amount is due and payable. However, the bank has to prove to the court that you are a flight risk from the UAE. It is then up to the UAE court to decide whether to impose such a ban based purely on the evidence that you are likely to abscond. I would advise that you approach the bank at its UAE branch and try offer a settlement amount in a lump sum. The bank is likely to accept as, ultimately, it wants its money back and not to put you in jail or affect you in any way that would mean you would then be unable to pay the amount back.

Q: Can I rent or drive a car in the UAE using my international driving licence if I am not carrying my passport as I am waiting for the issuance of my entry visa? Do I need to carry my passport when driving in the UAE if I do not have an Emirates ID card?

A: You should carry your personal identification documents with you at all times. UAE residents should have their ID cards on them to prove their legal resident status. It is not necessary to carry your passport if you have an Emirates ID but, as you don't, carrying a copy of your passport and residence visa page is advisable. A driver's permit is considered a means of identification if it is issued by the UAE and so it also exempts its holder from carrying a passport. However, in this case residents would need to carry a document that shows the validity of their residence. Non-residents or tourists can drive a rental car with a valid driving permit issued by a Gulf country or with an international driving permit. So yes, you would be able to obtain a rental car.

Q: I parked my car in a no-parking zone in front of a store to buy a bottle of water. The parking attendant approached me and angrily threatened to fine me, even though many cars were parked in no-parking zones for longer periods and none had been fined. I am aware that my behaviour is unacceptable but the law should apply equally to everyone. Is there any way to resolve this issue? Who can I talk

to complain about the attendant?

A: The violation of the law by others does not give you the right to do the same on the pretence that everyone else is doing it. The fact that some people use their position or social status to break the law does not make the situation any more acceptable or moral. You may, however, complain against the parking attendant's behaviour to a competent authority.

Yousef Al Bahar is an advocate at Al Bahar and Associates Advocates and Legal Consultants. If you have a question for our lawyer, please email it to with the subject line Know the law.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice.