The president of the United Arab Emirates has instructed authorities to aid nearly 7,000 citizens who defaulted on personal debts to the tune of $545 million, WAM state news agency said Wednesday.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, who is also the ruler of Abu Dhabi, has given orders to "deal with and settle all (court) cases of citizens defaulting on personal loans" whose debt does not exceed one million dirhams ($272,479), WAM said.
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A special fund with a capital of 10 billion dirhams ($2.72 billion) set up to help citizens who default on loans would repay part of the debt, while the rest of the loan would be restructured with no interest.
The report said the measure would lead to the release of citizens imprisoned for being unable to repay their debts.
Emirati nationals represent only about 11 percent of oil-rich Gulf state's population which surged to around 8.26 million people by 2010, according to official statistics.
The UAE government provides its citizens with a cradle-to-grave welfare system.