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Abu Dhabi

Dh100,000 fine waived for woman living in car in UAE

Anjana Sankar /Abu Dhabi Filed on June 28, 2018 | Last updated on June 28, 2018 at 07.39 am
Dh100,000 fine waived for woman living in car in UAE

(Ryan Lim/KT)

For two years, she has been spending her days in the prayer rooms of shopping malls and sleeping in the car at nights.

A debt-ridden woman in Abu Dhabi who has been living in a car for more than two years is hoping her ordeal will soon come to an end.

Rachida, the 43-year-old French woman, got a sigh of relief after authorities waived off her overstay fine of more than Dh100,000 this week. 

"I don't have anything except a rental car I am driving. I am surviving on dole from friends and acquaintances. But I still feel I am blessed as my fines got waived and I can finally go home and see my mother," Rachida told Khaleej Times. 

The single woman said she approached the immigration authorities and they referred her to Al Ain court on June 24.

Court papers verified by Khaleej Times confirmed she was fined Dh2,500 and have been ordered to exit the country before July 7.

Unexpected turn

But Rachida's trouble is far from over.

"I have a bank loan of Dh120,000. I also have a hefty bill of Dh24,000 on my rental car in which I am currently living. I want to keep my dignity and don't want to run away from my responsibilities," she said.

Rachida who was working as a leasing administration manager in a shopping mall in Abu Dhabi since 2012, said bad days fell on her after she lost her job in December 2014.

"I was earning Dh15,000 and had a decent apartment in the Al Bateen Area. But my life took an unexpected turn when I got laid off," said Rachida.

After vacating her apartment in March 2016, she said she started living in her rental car as the last option in front of her. 

Living in the car

During the last two years, Rachida said she has been spending her days in the prayer rooms of shopping malls and sleeping in the car at nights.

"I park my car in the basement of shopping malls during day time. In the night, I find open areas to park and sleep in the car. I use public toilets or showers on the beach to freshen up. "I used to survive on a packet of chips or a glass of yoghurt. When friends occasionally give me money or food, I eat. Then I discovered the charity fridges in Dubai, and that is a big relief.

"But the most difficult part of life is that I am unable to see my mother. I keep telling her that I cannot come because I have started my own company," said Rachida who has three brothers living in France. "My father died in 2012," she added.

But even when life was hell, Rachida said she did not give up hope 

Rachida said she is still alive because she was in the UAE. "I am thankful to the generosity and kindness of random strangers who bought me food and offered help occasionally. "I am a survivor. Life has taught me many lessons during the last two years. I am still trying to find a job to start afresh.


Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a journalist by profession and a humanist by passion. Her cluttered desk is not indicative of her state of mind.

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