When I started writing the On Your Side column for The National newspaper nearly six years ago I never imagined that we’d still be going strong 300 columns later. 300 feels like a milestone and in that time I have answered over a thousand queries in print, solved numerous problems for readers and received thousands of emails.
The column is part of the Personal Finance section that was launched a few months after the launch of the paper itself in November 2009 with a few letters to the Editor, but it only took a couple of weeks before we received the first emails and they have never stopped.
As the economy of the UAE ebbs and flows, so do the nature of enquiries. Over the past year the number of queries regarding rental issues has been huge, something that we didn’t see so much previously, and we have been able to reassure readers that rental laws, in Dubai at least, are there to protect tenants and clarify their rights. Emails regarding UAE Labour Law are a constant and these include regular queries on end of service gratuities, breaking contracts and everything from maternity leave to retirement ages, as well as general financial planning and tax issues.
Over the years I have built up contacts with the main banks and they are usually very helpful in solving problems for readers and a few other companies could certainly learn from them in the way complaints are handled. Sadly there have been a few companies who have ignored all our enquiries and refused to assist and this is always a disappointment. I was asked what were my ‘greatest triumphs’ and thinking back it has to be two cases concerning banks. One where I managed to get someone quickly out of a police station where they had been incorrectly detained for debt and another where the threat of a police case was lifted and arrangements were made to pay off a loan over time.
I am very proud of the work we do and endeavour to reply to most of the emails received, although many never get to print due to the volume of enquiries. My thanks to the editors I have worked with over the years, James Brock, Felicity Glover, Mustafa Alrawi and Alice Haine for all their support.
This link is for the ‘greatest hits’ column that was published on Saturday 9th August.
I hope the column has helped many people over the years and am delighted with the feedback from readers. Long may we remain On Your Side.