Emirati free zone boss donates Dh500,000 to free indebted prisoners


An Emirati businessman has donated more than half a million dirhams to free indebted prisoners.

Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive director of the DMCC free zone, donated Dh506,053 for people jailed for debt, the Dubai Police said.

Brigadier Marwan Abdulkareem, acting head of Correctional and Punitive Institutions, commended the contributions, saying individual acts foster social solidarity and development.

He expressed hope that the donation will inspire other organisations and persons to make contributions.

Banks in the UAE frequently file criminal cases against loan defaulters. The practice is criticised by lawyers who note punitive measures, like prison terms and fines, do not allow people to repay their debt. Often, prisoners cannot leave jail until they have paid debts or fines, even if they have completed their sentence.

A new personal insolvency law that came into effect this month gave people the option to manage and repay their debt in a court-approved system.

The new law aims to protect debtors from legal prosecution, decriminalise the financial obligations of insolvent persons and allows them to continue to work and clear debt over three years while supporting their families.

Steps to decriminalise debt have been widely lauded by lawyers, financial advisers and social workers.

Court-approved repayment plans are expected to have more relaxed terms, possibly by lowering interest rates.

There are about three million active borrowers in the UAE, according to November 2018 data from Al Etihad Credit Bureau.

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