As part of The Debt Panel, The National published an article on the debt woes of a Dubai nurse whose debts spiraled up after she took her first loan a decade ago. Souqalmal Founder and CEO Ambareen Musa discusses how the issue can be tackled.

I am a Filipino nurse and I have been working in Dubai for 11 years. In 2006, when I was new here, many of my colleagues took out loans and I was encouraged to do the same to build a house for my family and help my cousin move over here. I was not financially literate at that time and nobody offered any advice on being careful when signing up for credit. To cut a long story short, the initial loan I took out piled up and then another bank bought out the first loan. But the new six-year loan caused me a lot of trouble as I took advantage of the postponement facility a number of times during that period. Today I still have Dh147,000 remaining on the loan and an overdraft of Dh20,000. I also have a loan with another bank, which I cannot repay and five credit cards.

Here is what Ambareen Musa, one of the debt panellist and founder and CEO of had to say.

While you may not be able to consolidate all your debt due to the DBR (Debt Burden Ratio) restriction, you can definitely approach banks to consolidate at least 80 per cent of it. You should aim to consolidate all your credit cards and the loan with the highest interest rate, to avoid draining your income in massive interest payments.

If banks continue to turn you away, you can enlist the services of a legal representative to help negotiate the terms of your existing debt. One option is to get in touch with the Pro Bono Clinic run by the DIFC Academy of Law. This Pro Bono programme can be accessed by those who cannot afford legal assistance. Both Dubai Courts and the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, also offer free legal advice to individuals who cannot afford legal and judicial fees.

For full article go to The National