Dubai: Stranded UAE residents exempted to return from six countries today were jubilant after the government allowed them to return by taking necessary approvals and following testing and quarantine requirements. The easing of entry restrictions was announced for UAE residence visa holders from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda.
Vaccinated residents and other exempted categories of people, such as professionals from medical and educational sectors, thanked the UAE government for the permission granted to them to return to the UAE from August 5.
Delighted about return of family, friends
Raja Amjad Kabir, 39, an operations manager from Pakistan, was delighted that he can now bring his family back to the UAE. “My wife and three sons have been stranded in Islamabad since May, and I was actually considering alternative routes to bring them here. It would have cost me a lot more, but my children were really eager to return. That is why I am really glad to hear about today’s decision to allow certain categories of stranded expatriates to return,” said Kabir.
President of the community support group Chinar Wing — PAD, Kabir himself had planned to travel to Pakistan, but had returned from the airport after hearing about the flight restrictions to UAE.
Nigerian expatriate Onyekachukwu Nwaobi was happy for his friends who were stranded back home. “It’s a real good news. Now, Nigerian expats who are fully vaccinated can return to the UAE. They just need to show vaccination certificates from official health authorities and they will be good to travel. Some of my friends have been waiting for the opportunity to return,” Nwaobi said.
Khuram Iqbal, a 43-year-old entrepreneur, had been stuck in Pakistan since April 26. “I was scheduled to return to the UAE on May 24, but have been stuck due to the flight ban.” Iqbal, who has been living in Dubai since 2005, said this has been the longest duration of his stay away from the UAE. “I can’t wait to return home,” he said.
He has booked his travel to UAE on August 12 and hopes that he can get the necessary approvals by then.
No need to look for alternative routes
Dr Fatima Nazir, general practitioner at Aster Clinic in Discovery Gardens, was also delighted to hear about the start of return flights to the UAE. “We came to Pakistan in the beginning of July to celebrate Eid, fully expecting that return flights would soon resume. But as time went by, we got worried. My five-year-old daughter is due to start school at the end of this month, so my husband and I were considering alternative options on returning to the UAE. This decision now is a big relief,” she said.
Hoping to deliver in Dubai
Nidhi Kashyap, another Dubai resident who had flown home to India by the end of April, was also relieved to hear the news. “This news has got us all ecstatic,” said Kashyap, speaking over the phone from New Delhi. “At last, we see hope and it means we will finally be able to head home. We will be arranging for all the necessary documents and flying home very soon,” she said.
“We had come to India as my father-in-law was in a critical condition. Two days after we landed, we lost him and since then it has been a real fight. I have a six-year-old son and I am seven months pregnant. My health insurance is valid only in the UAE and I was also expected to return to work from August 22. I was concerned if I would be able to return on time and if my delivery would take place in Dubai.”
Big relief for school community
Shajahan K. Mohammed, principal of New Indian Model School in Sharjah, had travelled for his mother’s heart surgery. He was concerned that he would not be able to return on time as no definite date was announced for the resumption of flights from India. “I had planned to return by August 10 as I needed to be back early to ensure smooth operations before the school reopened,” he said from Kerala. This is a big relief, especially for the school community as the government has allowed teachers and students who are not vaccinated to also return from August 5,” he added.
The happy news for the school community came just hours after Gulf News published a report highlighting their concerns.
Shehara Rizly, Sri Lankan expat and a travel magazine editor, said allowing vaccinated Sri Lankans to fly back to the UAE was really exciting news.
“It’s also a blessing for those who are waiting to meet their loved ones again after almost three months of border closures. The Sri Lankan government is managing the COVID-19 situation very well and the vaccination drive has picked up once again,” Rizly said.
“We always applaud the UAE government for their smart strategies that have kept us safe over the past 18 months or so,” she added.
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Residents relieved to fly home
Some residents, who have been waiting to fly home once the entry restrictions are lifted, were also elated about today’s announcement.
Hira Devi Gauchan, 58, was relieved that the flight ban to and from Nepal had been lifted. She had been eagerly waiting to travel home as she had lost her son-in-law two months ago. Her travel to Nepal was essential as a few years ago, she had lost her daughter to cancer. With her grandchildren orphaned, it was critical for her to travel home to see them.
An emotional Gauchan said: “I did not get a chance to bid goodbye to my son-in-law. At least now I can go home to see my grandchildren who are eagerly waiting to see me. I just want to reach Kathmandu and hold my grandchildren in my arms and cry my heart out.”