Dubai: Around 250 families based in the UAE, whose children are stranded in different parts of the world, are urging the authorities to prioritise their return once visit visas open up, as they claim they are helpless and desperate to come home.
Flight suspensions apart, many of these children, who are studying or working abroad are in a bizarre situation as they are neither resident visa holders nor tourists, but consider the UAE home and continue to be dependent on their parents based here. Their parents said such children should be accorded preference while issuing visas so they can travel on the first inbound flights, instead of being clubbed with general visitors or tourists.
The families, belonging to multiple nationalities, said with regular university classes unlikely to resume before September in most countries, their children have been asked to vacate campuses and are struggling with limited resources and supplies as they wait to join their parents.
“We want to request the authorities to give our children priority once visit visas open up, as they are not tourists but kids of parents with valid UAE visas. They all had a UAE visa until recently, but not anymore. He is anxious to come home as he has finished his exams and needs to move of his accommodation. We hope during this holy month of Ramadan, our kids can reunite with us,” said Dr Shital Vaidya, an Indian doctor whose 19-year-old son Aman, a psychology student, is stuck in the UK.
Little comfort, support outside
Bianca, a French-English mum who can’t wait to see her daughter Marina Dolman, 20, studying in Sussex, UK, said, “Our children are members of a resident family and are not tourists. They have been isolated from their families during this unfortunate situation and have little comfort or support outside. The children’s home base is the UAE and their place during this crisis is at home with their family. Please prioritise the return of our children as they are not tourists or casual visitors, and they have already endured significant hardship.”
Egyptian mum Ghada Shahin said, “I am an Egyptian mother living and working in Dubai for 13 years, my elder son is 19 years and is studying in Scotland. He spent most of his life in Dubai which he considers home. In these uncertain times, we would like to have him back home with us.”
As Wasif Ahmed, father of Armaan, 23, studying in Chicago, US, explained, “We live and work in the UAE, our kids grew up and studied here and this for them is their only home. They might have crossed the age to be eligible for resident visas as dependents here, but they are still dependent on us. So we humbly request the UAE authorities to treat them on a par with resident visa holders under the current circumstances and help bring them back to their parents.”
An anxious lot
The parents said their children are anxious as all classes had either gone online or cancelled, with examinations done. Most of them have to leave their campus accommodations or contend with leases that expire anytime now.
Mary Ghobrial, a UAE-based expat from the US, said, “My son Tony, 20, came to Dubai when he was a year old till and was here till he graduated. Now he is studying in Los Angeles and is facing scarcity of food and medical supplies. His childhood, his nursery, school, friends are all here. We have been living here for the past 20 years and we have no other home. My son is alone now and really wants to come home. Please help reunite our family! We need it.”
Another Indian parent Praveen Dham said his son Ashwin, 22, born and brought up here in Dubai, was currently in Sydney. “My son is all alone. Dubai is home for him and he has nowhere else to go. My sincere request to the UAE authorities is to allow such cases access to the Twajudi portal and provide visa support so that they can fly to the UAE at the earliest.”
Irish passport holder Parag Phawde, living in Abu Dhabi for the last 15 years, said, “Our son Manas, 19, holds an Irish passport and studies in the US. his only home is Abu Dhabi. I would humbly request the authorities to kindly make some arrangements to bring our kids back as a special case as they need to be with the family.”