The United Arab Emirates is one of richest countries in the Middle East. Despite the recent financial crisis and the falling price of oil, the country’s economy still remains strong. However, like any other modern country, the UAE has its fair share of problems. These problems range from the typical (poverty, high price of living) to the truly bizarre.
Under Sharia law which is observed across the Middle East, non-payment of debt is a criminal offence. As the UAE has no bankruptcy laws, there is no protection for those slipping into debt, even accidentally.
There have been cases of foreigners being prevented from leaving the Emirates after being blacklisted for simply missing a credit card payment or bouncing a cheque.
But the spate of abandoned luxury cars – of which more than 3,000 were discovered in 2008 – is not an exclusive tactic of expats on the run.
Once a vehicle is suspected of being abandoned, local government inspectors will issue a warning notice. If the owner fails to respond within 15 days the car will be taken to a police scrapyard where it can still be reclaimed for a small fee.
Most impounded vehicles however are never reclaimed, with hundreds of cars auctioned off each year.