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Passengers arriving at Terminal 3, Dubai International Airport, on Wednesday as Dubai reopens to tourists Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: Hugs, warm embraces, tears of joy – these are normal scenes at the airport. But during pandemic times, when loved ones haven’t met for a long period, the emotions are at a heightened level as families and friends are reunited after a long time.

Canadian national Kayla, 26, immediately broke into tears and tightly embraced her parents and younger sister after seeing them at the arrivals area of Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 on Wednesday night.

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Tourist arrivals at DXB on Wednesday Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Originally from Nova Scotia, Kayla was one of the first tourists who arrived in Dubai after the city has opened to international visitors on July 7.

“I was supposed to come and visit my family in March but Covid happened,” Kayla told Gulf News. “I had to wait for three months before flights resumed, but finally I’m here in Dubai,” she added.

Kayla said the timing of her visit could not have come at a better time as her sister, Abby, will be celebrating her 17th birthday on Saturday. And Abby said it was the best gift having the family complete on her birthday.

Like Kayla, Egyptian student Mohamad El Gamal, 19, was on the same Emirates flight (EK242) from Toronto to Dubai.

Originally scheduled to come to Dubai on April 26, Mohamad, a business management student at Simon Fraser University, was stuck for three months in Vancouver.

“But it took us only three hours to get his (Mohamad) travel documents ready and approved after the government announced visitors can now come to Dubai,” Yasser, Mohamad’s father, told Gulf News.

Mohamad, who traveled for over 26 hours from Vancouver to Toronto and Dubai, also shared the process was fast at the immigration.

He got his negative test result a couple of days before flying to Dubai. He also filled out a health declaration form, stating he is healthy and he has insurance that can cover the cost of any COVID-19 treatment should he become ill. And he downloaded the Al Hosn (coronavirus) tracing app.

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All passengers underwent thermal screening and those who did carry a negative Covid result were tested on site.

Mohamad’s PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or nasal swab test was validated and he showed no symptoms. No further test was required and he did not have to be quarantined.

After settling at home, Mohamad is ready to have a busy and exciting weekend ahead. On top of his list, he said, is to visit malls and water parks in Dubai.

More students arrive

Earlier, Kapil Lamba, whose son Pranay arrived on July 7 night from New York, said, “I called Emirates and arranged his tourist visa through the airlines.”

Pranay is a final year mechanical engineering student at the Florida Institute of Technology in Orlando. He said his journey was seamless and smooth.

Dr Sateesh Rao, general practitioner with a private clinic in Dubai, said he was grateful Dubai Airports had opened for visitors. His son Adithya, who is a medical student at the American University of Antigua, was initially supposed to return to UAE on March 17, but was stranded due to the suspension of UAE flights. He finally made it on July 7 from New York. “My wife and I are part of a group of parents who have been trying to get our children back to the UAE. We were extremely worried as they did not have UAE visas. We thought they would be stuck endlessly. All this has come to an end. The group was supportive, helpful and proved to be invaluable.”

Aryan Malik, who also came on a tourist visa from new York on the same flight, reunited with his parents. The second year student at UC San Diego studying computer science and Maths was happy to be home. “It was great to come back and see my parents. The whole journey was smooth. There were no issues whatsoever. Regarding COVID-19 tests, students were given the option of doing it 96 hours before departure or take the PCR test on arrival in Dubai. I did both. I am still awaiting my US test results, but the one take in Dubai airport came negative.”