Dubai: Following the announcement by the UAE that as of June 1, stranded expats could return home, Indian expat Mohammed Azad is one excited father. His daughter Albira Khan will arrive home on the first flight carrying stranded UAE expats back to the emirates.
Albira is booked on the Emirates flight from London on June 1. A second year student in University of Kent, UK, Albira was scheduled to fly to the UAE on March 19, the day the UAE suspended passenger flights.
“The last two and half months was very stressful since most of her friends and college mates had left the university,” said her father. “But all’s well that ends well and we are just glad she is coming back.”
Another UAE expat and student, Gautam Agarwal, 19, a third year under-graduate in physics from Imperial College, London is scheduled to fly home on June 7. He too like Albira has got an approval from the ICA to return to UAE.
“After 70 days of despair, innumerable applications for his return, calls to authorities, we finally got ICA approval on May 31 morning,” his mother Monika said.
“We are glad we are past the first hurdle now and overjoyed, quite literally. In fact, we wanted to scream from the rooftop! He was taking care of himself but at the end of day, he is just another 19-year old kid, living on his own, away from family and in the middle of a pandemic. The uncertainty about returning was the hardest to manage,” she said.
Dhanrudh Venkat, a second year student in the University of Washington Seattle, is also coming next week. A former student of Cambridge High School Abu Dhabi, Dhanrudh is due to return on June 4 on Emirates flight to Dubai. Speaking to Gulf News, his father Venkataraman Durairaja who has lived in Dubai since 2003 said the family is elated their child is coming home.
“My wife spent many a sleepless nights worrying about the safety of our son. Now she is relaxed and happy. We have booked his flight from Chicago on June 4. He will fly from Seattle to Chicago in order to catch his flight to Dubai,” said Venkataraman.
While these parents are lucky to get their children back home some others aren’t so lucky. In fact, over 420 parents, long-term residents of UAE, have come together to help each other to help bring their children studying abroad back home.
Sheethal Vaidya who started the group has compiled a list of students living away from UAE and sharing the same with government authorities to bring their children home.
Dr. Abbas Khosravi, Iranian ICU specialist and team leader of COVID-19 treatment at a private hospital in Dubai said he and his wife are anxious to get their daughter back home. His daughter Zahra is a first year medical student in Ireland. “My daughter’s residency visa was valid until 2021 but I cancelled it after I joined a new hospital. Unfortunately I could not get her new residence visa done owing to the pandemic situation in the country. Now like other students, she too is without a residency visa.”
Pakistani mother Snober Salim is also pleading for her daughter Ayesha Azhar who is studying in London to return soon. “I am a single mother, raised in the UAE. My daughter’s visa was cancelled due to technical reasons as there was a sponsorship change in my residency permit. My daughter has been in isolation and has been struggling with it.” “Her friends, room-mates have all left. I am afraid she is falling into depression and becoming very irritable.”