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In Dubai, Can the hotel seize your passport and documents for being unable to pay your bill fully? I have a friend currently in dubai and ran out of money and the hotel seized her passport and other documents. She has a money voucher but their bank said they can't cash it due to their economy and not being able to cash that much of a voucher. What is she able to do?

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    IANAL, but it might be worth going the extra mile to clear the debt promptly. Nonpayment of debt is criminalized in some countries so it may not just be a civil matter, and once the authorities get involved it may get complicated and expensive fast. Bouncing a cheque can land you in jail in UAE, for example. – Spehro Pefhany Jul 19 '15 at 3:21
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    Speak to your friend by phone. There is a common scam whereby a fake email is sent to everyone in someone's address book purporting to be stuck in a foreign country and asking for money to be wired. Occasionally the friend happens to actually be abroad, and people get taken in. – abligh Jul 19 '15 at 10:55
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    Is it just me or does "She has a money voucher but their bank said they can't cash it due to their economy and not being able to cash that much of a voucher." sound very weird? – Andrew Lazarus Jul 19 '15 at 22:21
  • Echoing abligh and Andrew, it sounds like this question was indeed prompted by email scam, especially considering MastaBaba's answer below. – Lilienthal Jul 28 '15 at 14:39
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No. Not legally.

Passport retention is against the law in UAE. Your passport is usually the property of the government that issued it (as mentioned in the small print in your passport, which usually contains words to that effect), and each passport holder is responsible for its safekeeping.

Source

(I'm aware that the source's page title refers to employers, but the quoted text states unequivocally that it is illegal to retain passports in the UAE.)

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