Women cannot open bank accounts for their children in the UAE

Women not allowed to open bank account for children urge government to take swift action

The UAE Central Bank building in Abu Dhabi
Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
The UAE Central Bank building in Abu Dhabi.
17 Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Women cannot open or manage bank accounts for their children under 18 years of age, according to Central Bank regulations even if they are the children’s sponsors or custodians.

Women who were met with a strong no from the bank urged the government to take swift action and equate men with women in this regard.

A high-profile expatriate working woman and the custodian of two children told Gulf News that the bank she has been dealing with for more than 15 years has refused to open an account for her two children — aged eight and six —aand asked her instead to bring her divorced husband to the bank do so.

“I can’t understand the logic behind it. It is an impossible demand. I am the one who will deposit the money in a bid to secure the education and the future of my children,“ the mother and famous news anchor at a pan Arab TV station in Dubai said.

She said when the government has allowed her to sponsor her two children it means that the government considers her capable of sponsoring her children. It contradicts the bank’s rule when they ask her to bring her ex-husband or one of his brothers to manage the account of her children. The bank hinted that the rule is in compliance with Islamic Sharia.

“I can’t believe that we are in the 21st century and treat women as illegitimate custodians of their own children. This is nothing to do with Sharia. It is a backward understanding of the Sharia which had never dealt with such a case. It is we who implement Sharia, “ she said.

A spokesperson for the Central Bank told Gulf News: “We apply the provisions of Islamic Sharia in this regard. Mothers are legal guardians and trustees and they are not custodians or natural guardians,”

“The UAE is a Muslim country. Only fathers can open bank accounts for their children as they are their natural guardians or custodians,” added the spokesperson.

“If the father is dead, the custodians are either the uncle, the grandfather or the brother from their father’s side. However, the guardian is the one who is designated by the custodian and should replace the custodian if he is absent through a power of attorney issued for this purpose,” Riyad Kirdasy, a consultant at the Ban Globe Advocates and Legal Consultancy, told Gulf News.

“As per Central Bank regulations, we open accounts only for individuals who have completed 21 years of age,” said W. Ahmad, of NBAD customer service.

“All individuals who are 18 years of age are permitted to open a savings account while those who are 18 years of age and employed with government or semi-government entities may also open a current account,” added Ahmad.

“Accounts for saving accounts for minors below 18 years of age may be opened provided that they are opened and operated by the minor’s natural guardian [father] or by the legal guardian [designated by the court],” he explained.

“The husband has to sign the papers in the bank and this is the Central Bank’s policy. Also, if the mother wants to have access to these savings accounts of her children, her husband has to sign a power of attorney for the account per se,” said Ahmad.

Commercial Bank of Abu Dhabi said: “ The father has to sign all documents pertaining to the account and he has also to sign all documents with regard to withdrawals in the future. The husband can give his wife who is a third party a power of attorney to operate the account.”


  • Maryam

    Jul 9, 2012 7:13

    That's the law - you are living in this country and that's that to it.

  • Melody

    Jul 9, 2012 5:59

    truly a bad news....I am recently divorced & i was just planning to open 2 new savings acct 1 for my baby girl and 1 for my son age 11yrs for their future, be it for education or for anything else. It is always better to save something for your children's future and I don't understand why this rule is being implemented with Central Bank. I highly respect Sharia Law, but sometimes u can't avoid questioning it why they just choose which Sharia Law to apply specially with banks..if they are really applying the Sharia Law in UAE being an Islamic country, why big interests in Bank Loans are approved where everyone knows Interest in Islam is not acceptable. Why only choose the part in Sharia Law where a Woman or a Mother cannot open for her own child & would need the ex/husband or any male relatives from the husband's side. Isn't it quite unfair? If Sharia Law will be implemented, then let it be for all not just pick which rule to follow.

  • Susan

    Jul 9, 2012 12:25

    Siraj from Hyderabad, Most mothers know better than Fathers what is good for their children. If the account is opened by a mother for the benefit of her children there is nothing wrong in this.

  • GB

    Jul 9, 2012 12:19

    Siraj this is just making it sound like women are uneducated, which they are not. Many women manage corporations, let alone a simple bank account. Women are equal to men in their rights and there are many cases where a woman would have no wish to allow an ex husband near her in any circumstance. To force her to have to contact them may result in an even bigger problem. By law, a woman is made the legal guardian when she divorces if she is given custody, so therefore legally she is their guardian and that means under Sharia she would be able to open the account in that position.

  • Omar Mohsen Mohammad

    Jul 9, 2012 11:46

    In front of Islamic Sharia nothing to do, but mother and child can open joint account so that in future child can takeover.

  • Rose

    Jul 9, 2012 11:45

    The mother should be given the right to operate the account as no mother will ever want to spend the amount saved in the interest of the child. It is her income that she is saving for the child so why should the father or uncle or any one else operate and handle? What happens is the father might remove all the cash and use it for his personal use. The mother has to keep on depositing for him to use. The purpose of saving for the child's future stands defeated. I find this quite unacceptable and hence would rather invest in other institutions - like bonds, securities, Insurance, etc. so that my hard earned money is not wasted and used by any one else other than my child, especially in cases where there are divorces.

  • Haris

    Jul 9, 2012 10:53

    Very convinient to say that this is because of Sharia compliancy. What happens if the uncle decides to take that money and run away? Is there any protection scheme for that?If the mother is taking care of the kids and managing their education, living, clothing - why not manage their accounts as well?

  • Vidur

    Jul 9, 2012 10:23

    I love almost everything about UAE and please kindly do not apply this kind of regulations that sound so medivial. Dear concerned authorities, i believe that nobody can be a true well wisher of a child other than his/her own parents. Uncles and aunties, they can exploit the situation. Let a mother, widowed, divorced, separated, have the right to open an account for her child. If a father/mother is so keen to do it, it means they have the best wishes for their child in their mind.

  • Abdul

    Jul 9, 2012 10:16

    I think that is better way according to Islamic. Islamic Sharia must be strong, all women who live in ther UAE must be under Islamic Sharia.

  • B John

    Jul 9, 2012 9:46

    What about if a woman is a widow? Her husband passed away and she is living here with her children?

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