For Sri Lankan expat Mohammed A., a job offer in Dubai was his escape from poverty and a chance to clear his debts from a failed business venture. He arrived in the UAE four months ago and took up a role as a cold caller. Recently, the UAE government has introduced stricter regulations on telemarketing, imposing fines of up to Dh150,000. Mohammed expressed concern but remains optimistic. "Since I began, I've been careful not to over-call clients," he noted. "So far, I haven't encountered rudeness. With the new rules, I'll be even more cautious. I hope to still meet my targets." Starting from mid-August 2024, violators will face progressive penalties, including warnings and fines up to Dh150,000, and more severe consequences like suspension of activities or loss of telecommunications services.

Many UAE residents have complained about cold calls at inconvenient times. Briton Emma Stewart was relieved by the new regulations. "I'm glad about the news," she said. "I've been persistently called about credit cards despite explaining I'm a stay-at-home mom. I've had to block numbers." Indian expat Aneesh, who runs a direct sales agency for three major banks, finds the new rules challenging. "Our call conversion rates have plummeted since our company name started showing up on caller IDs," he explained. The new rule mandates that marketing calls must come from phones registered under licensed telemarketing companies, forcing agencies to revert to traditional sales methods like face-to-face visits.

Mohammed is particularly concerned about not meeting his monthly target of five credit cards, with a base salary of Dh3,000 and a penalty of Dh500 for each unsold card. Originally a gemologist in Sri Lanka, his gemstone business collapsed due to fraud, leading him to Dubai to support his wife and daughter. Another agent, Judy, faces verbal abuse and inappropriate behavior during calls, despite adhering to call timings set by the government.