Arrivals at Dubai Airport on Sunday as first flights from India since March 19 arrive
Arrivals at Dubai Airport on Sunday as first flights from India since March 19 arrive Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan, Gulf News

Dubai: Flights from India to the UAE returned for the first time since March 19 on Sunday with a 10.30am arrival of a Delhi flight into Sharjah marking the first landing in a 15-day agreement between the two countries from July 12-26. 

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Kamini Kannan leaves India for the UAE Image Credit: Supplied

Kamini Kannan who spearheaded a WhatsApp group of stranded Indians from the city of Bengaluru in the Indian state of Karnataka said, “I am so excited to come home to the UAE. My husband has been stuck in Dubai without me all these months and I can’t wait to see him. 

“I came to India on March 14 to see my daughter and attend to a personal emergency. A week later the UAE suspended its passenger flights. Initially I thought it would be for a couple of weeks, I did not think it would drag for so many months.” 

“A few days after the suspension was announced, I came across a Facebook page called UAE Expats Stuck Abroad and realised that there were many like me around the world stuck in India and all over the world,” she said. 

Discovering the Facebook group prompted her to join a WhatsApp support group for those stuck in India. “At that time we must have been just about 100 people in the group,” she said. “I started getting involved with members and we started growing in number.” 

Kannan finally took the Emirates flight EK 531 from Kochi to Dubai on Sunday. The flight departed at 9.45am UAE time. 

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Chetan Sharma prepares to leave for the UAE Image Credit: Supplied

Chetan Shah, 44, from Nagpur said he had been stuck in Mumbai, India since March 9.

Shah who works as regional operations manager said he went to India for his father’s bypass surgery and was stuck in the country as a result. 

“My wife and eight-year-old daughter were left in Dubai. So my journey which was meant to be for a week ended up lasting for four months. It has been a rollercoaster ride for me the last few months trying to manage three things at a time. My remote family in Dubai, remote office work and medical emergency for my father. The biggest saving grace has been my company in Dubai.” 

Shah is taking the Emirates flight EK 507 from Mumbai and is expected to arrive on Sunday evening. Shah said he has been trying to get the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) approval to travel back home since the time it was open for application in April, but faced multiple rejections. Finally, I managed to get GDRFA approval which came through really fast.” 

HR assistant Rakshitha Ravishankar, 27, has been stranded for four months in Bengaluru. Luckily her company was supportive of the situation.

“I came to Bangalore on March 11 as my father was in ICU for a while as he is suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome (GB) - a rare disorder that affects the body’s immune system, attacking the nerves. “I cannot wait to see my husband after four months,” she said.

Ravishankar said she was a bit concerned about travelling in a pandemic situation. “But I have prepared myself well. My PPE kit is in place. My residency visa is in place and I have all the necessary approvals to travel home to the UAE. I’m so glad I’m finally returning.”

Another Indian expat, Jibran Nizamuddin Mungi, 31, hailing from Mumbai, said he is hoping to get his job back after he arrives in the UAE. Mungi who was stuck in India for four months said it was a task getting the ICA approval. “I am on an employment visa. I cannot wait to be back in the UAE.”