Dubai: Two Indians, who were stranded in Nigeria for more than three months, have been reunited with their families in the UAE, thanks to the letters their daughters wrote to the Ruler of Dubai. The hand-written letters to His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, paved the way for their evacuation from Lagos, Binu John and Sooraj P.S told Gulf News on Wednesday.
The Keralite business partners of Seatech Marine Equipment Repairs LLC in Dubai were reunited with their families here on Tuesday morning after they were flown on an evacuation flight operated by Emirates.
The duo had been to Lagos on March 19 to complete their emergency work commitments related to luxury boat repairing services in Nigeria, they said.
“We got to know about the plans to suspend flights to Dubai only after leaving Dubai,” said Binu.
Sooraj said the duo tried to get back after booking tickets on an Etihad flight.
“But that was the last direct flight and only Emiratis were allowed to board. Our clients tried to help us by taking tickets from Lagos to Istanbul and from there to Dubai via London. But that didn’t work as we neither had a transit visa to Istanbul nor a visa to London.”
They were then left stranded inside the hotel room, with Lagos also imposing a lockdown soon. Their efforts to register for returning to the UAE did not yield results for three months.
Months of depression, anxiety
Though they didn’t have to struggle for food and accommodation, staying away for long during the COVID-19 pandemic made them and their families feel depressed and anxious, they said. Since the company had to be shut, the families were finding it difficult to manage rents, salaries and boat parking payments.
After days and weeks of anxiety and fear, their daughters who would often cry during the video calls with their fathers, decided to send hand-written letters to His Highness appealing to help for their evacuation.
Binu’s nine-year-old daughter Neha wrote about the growing concerns of herself, her mother and her younger brother about the absence of her father.
While seeking help for the evacuation of her father and his friend, she also highlighted that her mother had been feeling depressed and tensed and was always in bed.
Meanwhile, Sooraj’s daughter Abhinandana in her letter pointed out that the small company run by her father and friend was in a bad condition in their absence and the family was in a poor financial state.
“My mother and my brother are also very sad about this and we really miss him. So please help us to bring my father and his friend back to Dubai,” she added.
How a Gulf News report inspired them
The duo said Indian journalist Nissar Syed, who runs the online Malayalam news platform ‘Dubai Vartha’, advised them to write the letter after he saw a Gulf News report on how a seven-year-old boy’s mother was reunited with him after he wrote a letter to the RAK Ruler.
He also helped submit the necessary documents to the Dubai Ruler’s Court through social workers Naseer Vatanappally and Mohammad Ali Parakkadav, they said.
Thanks to all their efforts, Binu and Sooraj were informed on Monday that they would be able to fly back to Dubai.
The duo and families are now grateful to the Ruler and officials at the Ruler’s Court in Dubai whose benevolence helped them reunite amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
They have also thanked the efforts of the social workers and the journalist in bringing their case to the attention of the authorities.