Opening and operating a bank account in the UAE is much the same as opening a bank account in most other countries. You will be required to provide details of your employer, your visa status and remuneration, and the length of your contract. The bank will probably expect to see previous bank statements and details of your credit history or possibly utility bills.
Choosing a bank
Many international banks have a presence here in the UAE and offer good, clearly set out websites (in English) informing you of their services and the types of accounts they offer. However, do not overlook the local banks that are well-regulated institutions. The UAE's Central Bank keeps a close eye on all financial dealings and has strict codes of compliance that all banks are required to adhere to. Your choice of bank may be decided by something as simple as your company suggesting a particular bank, as there are sometimes extra incentives for you to choose this bank.
Opening an account
Most bank websites offer facilities for you to apply for an account online. This usually means supplying your name, the type of account you are interested in, the likely average monthly balance you will be keeping and a phone number. A follow up call from a representative of the bank then offers an opportunity to discuss the finer details such as interest rates, overdrafts, fees, loans, credit cards and international transfers. You will then be required to go into your branch to present the relevant documents which will most probably include a copy of your passport, resident visa and Letter of No Objection (NOC) from your employer. An NOC can be required for a number of things, like spouses who are on your Residency Visa taking paid employment or getting a loan to buy a car. The NOC should also state your monthly salary. Some banks are satisfied with a salary certificate from the HR department where you work. You may also be asked for a copy of your residence tenancy agreement and passport photos.
Once you have opened an account you will receive an ATM/debit card usually delivered to you by courier. You will also be offered a credit card by the bank. Even though it is more convenient to have a credit card with you own bank, it is advisable to shop around as there is a fair amount of competition for credit card business and another bank may offer better enticements. You will also be issued with a cheque book. If you have to pay for your own accommodation, the annual rent is most commonly paid by giving the owner or real estate agent four post-dated cheques, each for 25% of the annual rent. These will be presented at three monthly intervals and it is up to you to make sure the funds are in your account. It is very important to get this right as a bounced cheque is regarded as serious fraud in the UAE. Your bank will also be able to help you with a car loan, arrange to pay your utility bills, top up your mobile phone account and you can even pay the Salik road toll fees via online banking.