Banks are now demanding that people who buy cars using loans – ie most people – provide large, up-front payments to be able to take them across the border. Several banks are demanding a deposit the size of the outstanding loan or a guarantee from another bank that you've got it. Apparently banks are worried you are going to steal the car. And don't try to take a rental car to Oman for the weekend, without securing a no-objection letter from the rental agency. A surge of thefts have led to people being held up for hours and/or turned away. I feel claustrophobic just thinking about all this.
I went to buy a Blackberry on Saturday and left the store, frustrated, without one. I am travelling to Australia for two weeks on Friday (I've been blogging ahead - so keep coming back while I am gone!) and need to be able to make calls back to North America. My frustration came because I was told that to get a phone that will work in Australia, allowing me to make outgoing calls should I need to, on a post-paid plan, I would need to lay down a Dh2,000 deposit - more than 600 bucks Canadian!
Things are already so tenuous here (and everywhere, I realise) I hardly want to sign up for a year commitment anyway, for anything, let alone hand over that kind of cash just to be able to use my phone when I travel. Although the Government is looking at extending residency visas for those who are laid off so they can search for another job, as it stands, without a job and a visa sponsor, you have a month to leave.
The fellow in the flat I rented was just a month or two shy of the end of his Etisalat internet contract, yet because he was leaving early he had to pay the company Dh2,500 to disconnect it. Someone else I know had to pay back a fraction of their furniture allowance (As if you buy furniture in equal increments throughout the year - and I realise people back home are scoffing, thinking "furniture allowance!" But that's the way our pay is calculated here, a core base and a bunch of allowances) and deal with an electricity conundrum, due to a snag where his employer needed proof that he had it turned off, yet he still needed to live in the flat for several days.
I can't imagine paying a deposit to use the phone I bought, or putting up the same amount of cash I owe on my car or being laid off, in a mad panic trying to leave the UAE and figuring out where the %$#& to go, and wandering around the city trying to collect deposits and pay bills I was not aware I owed.
I can't help thinking all these mini-barriers added up, while understandable as a protectionary measure, serve to encourage trepidation by people with commitment issues about living in this country, thus discouraging any real investment by them.