Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's getting harder to trust living in a place that clearly does not trust me

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.

13 comments:

samuraisam said...

Etisalat post paid deposit used to be 5000 dhs; my advice is just buy a crappy 200 dhs phone here, get a sim card on arrival in australia and buy a cheap calling card or something.

Etisalat roaming for international calls will send your bill through the roof (unless its reimbursed or something).

ThirdCat said...

I feel your pain...I can't believe the number of pieces of paper I've had to shuffle (and will have to shuffle) to get settled. (And, like you say, being settled is relative).

And on the phone, what samuraisam said, I just use a sim card in Australia and buy credit as I need it (actually, I've been doing prepaid here too, because it was just the easiest solution)

Gaia said...

I'm having commitment issues about settling here long-term :P... keep blogging!

Anonymous said...

And I am on the other end...leaving. Haven't resigned yet, but on the way. Does anyone know where I can find info about what will be required when I finally go to the airport with the company rep to get the big EXIT FOR GOOD stamp on my visa?

For the purposes of this post my email address is passnhuck@yahoo.com.

Thanks

CG said...

Agree with Sam, in Oz get a Vodafone card and sometimes when you top up you can get mega amounts of free text messages too.

Unfortunately there are plenty of folk who might not return to the UAE and run up massive bills.

rosh said...

A reason; we, in the UAE, do not have a credit reporting bureau! Everything is cash - deposit and more cash basis. It does cause havoc. Plus, unfortunately tons of folks low in ethics, use up services, and leave without paying.

Graeme Baker said...

buy a vodaphone prepay at the airport in australia - 30 bucks. stick it in the phone you have now, buy an international phonecard.

Graeme Baker said...

Anon, don't do it by the book like I did. If you resign they freeze your pay and you have to fight like a bastard from another country to get anything back.

Your employer will also demand your passport to have your residency stamped void, but will then send someone with you to the airport to make sure you've left.

If you leave the day after pay day and after clearing out your bank account, the only thing they can do is refuse you entry if you ever want to return.

Which I doubt you'll want to do.

Anonymous said...

Great post and good comment from Graeme. Sadly, a situation has been created where you are almost forced to abscond. Not a way I like to behave, but you are left no option. I've heard story after story of people being screwed because they did the right thing and resigned in an honourable way.

Graeme Baker said...

Yep. The mofos even took me for my furniture allowance. Don't forget to take all your lieu days and holiday in advance of departure!

Ann Marie McQueen said...

In fairness on that one though, you did live in a hotel the entire time.

Graeme Baker said...

Pah! Not through wanting to.

Grady said...

Excellent post on vehicle car seat covers.