• Radha Stirling

Stirling warns investors to leave Dubai or face jail after Arabtec liquidation

UAE government owned construction giant Arabtec’s liquidation has put thousands of expats at risk of imprisonment and Interpol red notices, warns Detained in Dubai CEO Radha Stirling.



Stirling warned investors to leave Dubai in a Facebook live broadcast today, issuing the following statement:


“Whenever a UAE construction entity goes bust, expats go to jail. This is exactly what happened in 2009, and exactly what we will see now. UAE government owned Arabtec has voted to liquidate, leaving $18 billion worth of projects under construction, a disaster for the perhaps thousands of expats who had deals with Arabtec.


“Arabtec will be completely protected from consequences with bankruptcy laws providing protection as well as, of course, the government itself. When the banks get into financial trouble, they are bailed out and it is the same with government owned construction companies. Given the UAE’s economic meltdown this year, one would hope that the same safetynet Arabtec enjoys, would also be provided down the chain of companies who rely on Arabtec.


“As Arabtec sinks, it will fail to pay companies and individuals who rely upon the income for their survival. In turn, they will default on their obligations, but none of them will be able to seek protection under the UAE’s bankruptcy laws because frankly, they are a joke. Instead, when they default, they will be criminally prosecuted and jailed then later, sued in the civil courts and forced to remain in the UAE until the judgment is paid. They will not be allowed to work though because their passports will be confiscated and their visas cancelled. They will simply be stuck, forever.


“Expats, workers and entrepreneurs who may be put in a position where they can’t meet all of their obligations, should not hesitate to leave the UAE as soon as possible or consider they could be making a lifetime choice to be stuck in the country indefinitely. You can not reason with the courts, you can not justify or explain your circumstances. If you can not pay a supplier, a staff member, a bank or even a landlord, you face a lifetime sentence in the unforgiving Emirates.


“Those who do leave their Dubai lives behind, have not won. They have lost their dream, their hard work and investment and are at great risk of being listed on Interpol’s Red Notice database which has long been misused as a debt collection tool by the Gulf state. At least though, they will have their freedom.


“We saw a mass exodus of expats in 2009, with luxury homes and cars abandoned at airports. These were the individuals who knew Dubai criminalised defaulters, no matter the circumstances, even where directly caused by the UAE government itself. This is still the case.


The real victims of Arabtec’s insolvency will be heard for years to come. The UAE remains one of the riskiest places in the world to do business where someone else’s mistake, can land you in jail.”




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