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British expats living in the UAE are hoping for a happy reunion with their families back home. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: British expats living in the UAE are hoping for a happy reunion with their families back home, following the United Kingdom lifting quarantine measures for UAE travellers to the country. The air corridor between the two countries had already opened although Britain was still under lockdown.

Many had cancelled their travel plans — whether business or personal — or put them on hold due to the two-week quarantine. Now that this restriction has been lifted, there is a renewed interest among British expats in the UAE to spend Christmas with their families back home.

Take the case of Haroon Ali, for example. He was due to travel in the first week of November on a business trip. “I travel every four weeks to the UK for business and pleasure. I am usually in and out four to five days. The quarantine restrictions, however, discouraged travel as it meant being stuck in the UK for two weeks [of quarantine] for a trip that ideally required me to be in the country for not more than a week! It just did not make sense,” explained Ali who works as an investment consultant in the UAE.

‘Bitter-sweet news’

Alexandra Saikkonen-Williams

Another British citizen living in UAE, Alexandra Saikkonen-Williams, 35, CEO for a marketing agency called A Communications, said it was a bit of a bitter-sweet news. “I am so delighted we are off the list, though the UK is still in lockdown. So it’s a bitter-sweet news really. The bitter part being that there’s not much point in travelling to the UK yet as once you get there you can’t leave your accommodation. The sweet part is that this now means that the UAE is considered ‘safe’.”

She, however, is seriously considering travelling back home for Christmas. “We will still self-quarantine because we will be seeing my grandfather a lot and he is 96. As a precautionary measure, we will do the needful to be safe for ourselves and others.”

Hayley Clements

Hayley Clements, 32, general manager for a private company, said while she was happy that the restrictions had been lifted, she was concerned about how people back home did not adhere to social distancing. “I think it is a great thing that we can now travel to see our family. However, we are slightly concerned about the UK with people not adhering to social distancing.”

‘Now we will travel’

“I had put off the idea of travel to the UK because of the quarantine restrictions. Unfortunately, the full time spent at home would have been in quarantine so it seemed a little pointless. Now we will travel.”

Kayleigh Lockhart, 33, senior marketing manager, said: “From a personal perspective, I get to go home and see my family without restrictions. It is a great thing for business too. It was high time business relations between the countries improved and the lifting of quarantine will go a long way at that.

Kayleigh Lockhart

"I booked my flights long time back, in June, in preparation for the restrictions to be hopefully lifted. Now that they have, I am so relieved. I booked my flights, but that meant it would have been a pointless operation to go home. I have planned my travel to go home from December 16 until January 3.”

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Will Foster, 42, global sales director for a company, is also heading home for Christmas and New Year. “I have not seen my extended family for a long time.”