Most Read Contributor in United Arab Emirates, January 2017
A Tanzanian mother of two Emirati daughters is destitute and
unable to send her girls to school after their father abandoned
Layla Yousif, a mother of four and five-year-old girls, is
afraid of approaching authorities for help as she has no residency
visa, which has also meant that charities are unable to help
The 32-year-old and her girls, Mariam and Mahra, live with her
brother in his two-bedroom flat with his wife, daughter, their
mother and another sister and brother.
She said that her life went from bad to worse after marrying
Mohammed Al Naqbi in 2007.
Initially, Ms Yousif was put up in a home by her now ex-husband,
but she said he continually put off sponsoring her until he
eventually refused, saying that being married to a foreigner would
lead to him being fired from his Armed Forces job.
Now, Mr Al Naqbi's mother said he is in jail for unknown
offences, though Ms Yousif disputes this.
Ms Yousif only has copies of her girls' passports and IDs,
meaning she cannot register them at school.
"We got married in 2007 in my country and he brought me
here through a visit visa. His friend who has a shop sponsored me
because Mohammed worked in the Armed Forces and he didn't want
them to know that he married an expat in case they fired him,"
"After that, he started avoiding getting me a residency
visa. In 2010, I delivered my first daughter and he told me,
'when she becomes a one-year-old, I will do you [an Emirati]
passport', and then I got pregnant with my second one, and when
my visa finished, he told me, 'I won't sponsor
After six years she opened a court case to get herself a
residency visa and passports for her daughters. "Since 2013
until now my case is in the court [her residency visa request]. I
asked for a divorce and I got it in 2015, and my daughters got
their Emirati passports, IDs and health cards but the originals are
with him, he just gave me a copy," Ms Yousif said.
According to the court documents, Mr Al Naqbi, 35, was told to
pay Dh5,000 per month to his ex-wife and daughters but he said he
could not pay as he lost his job because of his marriage to her, he
has debts and he spends money on his son from his first wife.
He said he could pay Dh3,000 per month but he gave a one-off of
Dh30,000 and then the money ran out.
Ahmed Mohammed Al Khadim, of the Ministry of Social Affairs,
said that charities need to see a valid residency visa before they
can assist in cases.
"The system requires having a valid visa, it is one of the
clauses to get the support. Through the visa, the cases can been
studied to know if the person is divorced, sick or having a
difficult life. Those who don't have a visa? The charity
can't study their case," he said.
The mother of Mr Al Naqbi said that he provided his ex-wife with
a house, maid and expenses during their marriage but he could no
longer do so as he was jobless.
"Because he worked in the army, he can't marry an expat
and, when they knew, they fired him, so he can't pay her
because he doesn't have money," she said.
Hassan Elhais, legal consultant at Al Rowaad Advocates &
Legal Consultants, said that the father, as the children's
guardian, has the right to hold their passports but that
guardianship is taken away from father if "he is sentenced to
punishment in a felony crime or intended misdemeanour that he did
on the child" or "if he has been sentenced to serve a
Ms Yousif said she is working on getting a residency visa. Her
overstaying fines have been waived and now she needs to deal with
paperwork before applying for the visa.
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Question: My husband is planning to divorce me on a very petty issue. Do you think Dubai Courts would allow a divorce on these grounds, even though it's a matter that could have been resolved between us?
Chief justice and Bar Association have endorsed legislative proposal that would clarify outdated and confused concepts such as child custody, care and control, but government inertia may hold up its enactment
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