Dubai: It’s turning out to be a case of ‘Paradise Lost’ for several UAE residents, who went on a holiday to the idyllic Seychelles, but have been stranded there for over three months.
Desperate to return home, the residents, some of whom are pregnant women, told Gulf News from the now coronavirus-free island that they urgently want to come back to their jobs and families in the UAE as each passing day is costing them dear.
Serbian couple Ivana and Jovan Antonovic said, “Yes, we chose a super expensive destination for vacation, but we planned it for only a week not knowing it would turn into a 70-day ordeal. We are bleeding financially.”
Jovan said, “I am on unpaid leave as I was not able to return from my annual leave and we are worried if my job will be secure. We can no longer afford to keep paying for loans, apartment rents and utility bills in both countries. To top it all, we don’t have valid medical insurance.”
Ivana said they are ending up spending 50-60 Euros every day for basic accommodation and food. “This is in addition to the rents and phone and utility bills back in the UAE which we have to pay. It is becoming impossible to bear the expenses as each day passes,” she said, adding, “We are in a beautiful place no doubt, but enough is enough.”
As many as 25 UAE residents are currently said to be stranded on an island in. Pleading to the UAE Government to facilitate their travel by approving their return permits, the residents said they believe they are not a threat in any way to the health and safety of the others in the UAE because Seychelles is a safe zone with zero COVID-19 cases.
“We are happy to take all the necessary precautions when we come back as per the government rules and regulations towards quarantine and tests,” wrote an Indian IT consultant from Dubai.
Gordana Aleksic, another Serbian resident, said, “I came to the Seychelles with my husband for a short break that is turning out to be our worst nightmare. Even though we are stranded in a beautiful place, the reality of our being here is a different story.”
Four months pregnant and stuck on the island for two-and-half months, Gordana said she cannot afford the health check-ups . “At this point, we don’t know what is happening with our baby, we are waiting to come back to the UAE to find out. We are struggling with food, rent...everything. We wake up every morning praying to hear some good news about going back to the UAE.”
Another pregnant woman, who is due to deliver in mid-September, said if she didn’t make it back to the UAE in the next couple of weeks, she would have to deliver there with no medical insurance and help. “The thought and anxiety of all this gives me sleepless nights. Every day I just keep crying and praying hard for some miracle to happen. Our life and our hearts are in the UAE! Please bring us back.”
The Seychelles, which is an archipelago of around 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa, is a huge draw among holidayers from the UAE as it has many beaches, nature reserves and coral reefs. Flights to Seychelles from Dubai take around four-and-half hours, making it a convenient getaway for residents.