A Dubai-based couple who were away from their two-year-old baby after being stuck in South Africa over a month, flew back to Dubai on Wednesday night thanks to the special arrangements made by the UAE Government.
Although they can reunite with their daughter at their Dubai home only after undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a hotel, the couple are already relaxed after reaching the UAE.
"It is nice to be back home. Dubai is my home and my children's home," Mark Hill, a British national, who has been living in the city for two decades, told Emirates News Agency, WAM, after landing at Dubai International Airport.
He and his Italian wife Chiara Maion, a Dubai resident for 17 years, came back to the city after over a month-long desperate wait to reunite with their baby girl named Skye.
"We were counting each second during the past one month. She must be sleeping now. The first thing tomorrow morning we will do a video call with her [from the hotel]," Hill said.
The couple went on a short vacation in Cape Town last month but unexpected border closures due to the new coronavirus, COVID-19, jeopardised their plans.
They had decided not to take the baby along on the long-haul flight, as she was born prematurely, hence, left her in the care of a nanny and house help at home, who had the support of other family members and close friends living in Dubai.
The couple left for Cape Town on 12th March and planned to come back on 21st March but the global air travel started disrupting due to coronavirus fears soon after they landed in South Africa.
Their attempts to come back to Dubai did not succeed until 18th March because of non-availability of flight tickets. Finally, they got the flight tickets to fly back to Dubai on 19th March.
However, it did not work because on the same day (19th March) the UAE suspended the entry of all its valid residence visa holders who were out of the country, as part of the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The couple took up their case with the UAE Government's official channels and the UAE embassy in South Africa.
Finally, the UAE Government made the arrangements for the couple to fly back and they landed in Dubai in the intervening night between Wednesday and Thursday.
"We are so happy and so very grateful to the UAE Government and the respective Italian embassies and consulates," Chiara Maion, the mother, said after landing in Dubai.
Hill said he was astonished to see that various authorities of the UAE government efficiently coordinated their efforts to help them come back home.
"We don't have words to express our gratitude to the UAE Government and Italian diplomats who helped us," he noted.
Being away from the baby was a tough time for the couple. They made several video calls to her every day. "She is a clever, little adaptable child. Children are amazing," he said.
"We were singing in the evening [to cheer her up] and tried to be with her [on video calls] during the bedtime. We created such a routine to make her comfortable," Hill explained.