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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Charities renew efforts to help Qatar residents in legal trouble over debts

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Building on past efforts that have raised millions of riyals and kept dozens of residents out of jail in recent years, several local charities and the government have launched a new campaign to help individuals in hot water over unpaid debts.

The Qatar Authority for Charity Work (QACW), a government body that regulates and oversees charities, held the inaugural meeting of the new effort with several other organizations yesterday.

The six-month campaign, which also includes the Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services (RAF), Qatar Charity and the Sheikh Eid Charity Association, marks the first time that the government and multiple charities have collaborated on this cause.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The campaign is aimed at helping both Qatari nationals and expats who lack the means to pay off their debts. Priority cases will be those serving jail time or facing criminal charges, as well as women and families.

Like many other Gulf states, Qatar’s judicial system comes down hard on those who fail to pay their debts, imposing stiff penalties for fraud and for failing to repay loans. Expats often face the added sanction of being deported after serving their sentence.

The punishment for just one bounced check ranges from a jail term of three months to three years, and/or a fine of around QR3,000 ($824) – cases that take up a considerable amount of court time in Qatar.

Charitable campaigns

The charities involved in the new effort have helped residents in debt with individual campaigns over the past few years. While some exclusively targeted Qatari nationals, others also helped expats as well.

Many of these campaigns are renewed and expanded during Ramadan, a time of heightened charity and altruism.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Since 2011, RAF stated that it managed to collect around QR30 million ($8,239,157) in donations. That was used to pay off the debts of 120 Qataris, including 70 who were either in prison or were facing possible jail time. They also succeeded in convincing lenders to forgive some of the money they were owed.

Earlier this week, before the joint campaign was launched, the charity collected more than QR6 million ($1,647,848) in donations in just a couple of hours during a local radio show hosted by RAF during Ramadan.

The money was enough to pay off the debt of eleven Qataris in legal trouble over their debts, according to RAF’s website.

While the identities of the debtors remain confidential, certain details – such as their age as well as the size and circumstances of their debt – are are often released so people can donate to their case of choice.

Qatar Charity for example posted information on its website on case number “13180” who has been out of work since 2011, has a family and could go to jail if he fails to pay off the debt.

By Wednesday afternoon, the case had collected QR95,100 ($26,118) in donations, but he needs more to pay off his debt of QR128,260 ($35,225).

Individuals receiving help must meet certain conditions. That includes being a first-time offender as well as providing proof of their inability to pay off their debt, which must have arisen due to “legitimate” reasons. Someone who incurred gambling losses, for example, would be ineligible.

Those who wish to make a donation can do so through the websites of the respective charities.

Debt in context

In addition to raising money, the newly launched campaign will also examine why people fall into debt and what can be done to prevent it from happening in the future.

For illustrative purposes only.
For illustrative purposes only.

It’s also a theme that was recently discussed by Muslim clerics in Qatar, who advised worshippers during Friday prayers last month not to take out bank loans to fund extravagant vacations as it could cause them to fall into crushing debt.

However, an RAF spokesperson told Doha News that most of the cases it sees are either young Qatari nationals with failed business ventures or expats struggling to keep up with car loans, school fees and constantly increasing rents.

The 2011 National Development Strategy found that three out of every four Qatari households are in debt, owing an average of QR250,000.

In 2012, the country’s courts were registering an average of 46 cases of bounced cheques daily, down from an average of 64 a year earlier.

Qatar’s neighbors face similar challenges. In 2013, the UAE registered a record number of bounced cheques cases – almost 80,000, amounting to an overall bad debt of QR9.4 billion.

Thoughts?

22 COMMENTS

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MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

I’m surprised no one mentions the reckless lending by banks especially to expats as all their loans are unsecured. In fact the amount of money they can get depends on their salary as the only “security” and when the employee loses their job in a downturn they often have no way to pay the remaining, so the bank inform the police and they get arrested and jailed.

Individuals are also to blame, many do not take out a loan for 3 years and pay it back. Every six months they top it up to the maximum so whenever they have to leave they have to pay it all back and many cant. They know jobs are not forever in Qatar yet they do this to themselves and their families.

You need a loan to buy a house back home? Simple. Get a loan in your own country and when you lose your job you’ll be able to leave Qatar.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Totally agree, But given that debt is a criminal offence in Qatar, the emphasis should be on the prudence of the banks to counter the stupidity or ignorance of the applicant.

Doodz
Doodz
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Totally agree with you!!!

Amber
Amber
6 years ago

I think the banks need to be held responsible. They give out loans like candy. There needs to be an established credit system. There should be credit checks before taking out any kind of loan.

Also people should be careful with taking out loans. Live within your means and don’t try to live the life of a millionaire when you aren’t one. A good friend of mine has been stuck in Qatar for the past 4 years because she took out loans to buy desinger clothing,trips to various destinations and hosting giant parties at her house. She lost her job and since then hasn’t been able to keep a steady job so her loans aren’t being paid regularly and the interest keeps building up. She can’t even get a exit visa to visit her family.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

Sorry she is an idiot. She deserves what happened to her, and she should be happy she still works because others who did the same are in jail now.

Amber
Amber
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

I wasn’t defending her. She is in that situation because of her own fault. That was my point.

I think a lot expats come here and see how Qataris live and want a piece of that life. But people wind up living above their means.

Bornrich
Bornrich
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

But it looks like Qataris are falling into the same trap. As the article says: Three out of four Qatari households are in debt and the average debt is QR250,000.

It’s not just the loans that trip people up. Easy overdrafts and tempting credit card offers with free iPads, smartphones and holidays or flights could add another QR100,000 to an individual’s debt pile.

Amber
Amber
6 years ago
Reply to  Bornrich

But they get their loans forgiven every couple of years. Expats aren’t so fortunate.

Blue
Blue
6 years ago

Perhaps the RAF should invest some of their QAR 30M in educating the public on managing their personal finances….

Secondly, how does one pay off their debt if they are put in jail? Surely they should consider some debt restructuring on default – that’s way the financial institution will not need to write off (they would have to surely do so if the debtor is in Jail!!!!)

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago

Well for a start they could start by helping and providing tickets to some of this poor and framed up maids and workers and help them to get home. Most of them are in jail on false charges or for being framed up with absconding charges by their sponsors. This workers who have been languishing in jail for even minor charges should be made the first priority for this help.

Smile
Smile
6 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

Spot On Johnny.

Elkhorn
Elkhorn
6 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

Good one.

٩(͡๏̯͡๏)۶
٩(͡๏̯͡๏)۶
6 years ago

Fantastic initiative, striking at the root of the problem. A real win for the fiscally irresponsible.

Gareth Walters
Gareth Walters
6 years ago

I have to say I think this is absolutely disgraceful! Charity is a noble and wonderful thing, to be able to give money to a worthy cause can be a rewarding and satisfying experience, knowing that your donation is going to those who are in desperate need of help. at a time where mosques are being blown up in Kuwait and all of the other suffering that is happening in the region i find it sickening that the major charitable organisations are focusing the attention on Qataris who can afford to pay for their car, who needed a first class ticket to hit the shops in Paris – or even mismanaged their business into the ground.
I for one would never donate to these charities and always make a point to explain to friends and family that this is the type of cause that their money could be donated to should they choose to donate to Qatar Charities.
This is very sad and not representative of what charity should be

Expat
Expat
6 years ago
Reply to  Gareth Walters

I agree with most of what you said. But the program the article tackles does donate to a lot of other noble causes like you mentioned. A few days ago they were gathering donations to dig up and build 20 fresh water wells in Somalia each well would benefit around 3,000 families (not individuals). The cost of each well was around QR 17K, in 30 minutes they secured donations to build 25 wells and the donations were still coming.

Again, yes donating to people who are in prison because of “fancy debt” for me is disgraceful as well!

Gareth Walters
Gareth Walters
6 years ago
Reply to  Expat

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will donate entire $32bn fortune to charity

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/saudi-prince-alwaleed-bin-talal-will-donate-entire-32bn-fortune-to-charity-10358806.html

Now that is truly amazing!!!

Rane de Beer
Rane de Beer
6 years ago
Reply to  Gareth Walters

Yes, it is. And sounds like he has good ideas. A shame though about his last point: “The Prince will continue to retain his publicly-listed investment business, Kingdom Holding. He stressed that there was no deadline for donating all of the funds.” No deadline sounds familiar? Inshallah

Expat
Expat
6 years ago
Reply to  Rane de Beer

I think it’s better than dumping $35B in the bank account of some charity! Chaos will ensue! Plus this cautious approach will ensure corruption is controlled and much needed projects are undertaken!

Rane de Beer
Rane de Beer
6 years ago
Reply to  Expat

Agreed. As long as it is not just a fancy announcement by him, and he actually does what he promises. And please, no money to any people with self-created debt problems, but to the most needy and vulnerable.

Expat
Expat
6 years ago
Reply to  Gareth Walters

Yep it is! If only every wealthy human realizes that in the end you only take your good deeds with you!

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Gareth Walters

an RAF spokesperson told Doha Newsthat most of the cases it sees are either young Qatari nationals with failed business ventures or expats struggling to keep up with car loans, school fees and constantly increasing rents.

Peaches
Peaches
6 years ago

Isn’t charity supposed to be about giving to people less fortunate or in need of something like food, medical care etc. Why would I give money for this type of charity? Helping people who have simply spent beyond their means…I don’t think so.

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