Immigration officer to the rescue of man stuck at UAE airport

Immigration officer to the rescue of man stuck at UAE airport

Dubai - He worked well past his shift, and even offered to pay for his tickets.


Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Published: Wed 13 Sep 2017, 1:29 PM

A UAE-based expat has expressed his gratitude to his "guardian and angel" -- an immigration officer who went above and beyond the call of duty -- to help him and his family return home in an emergency, working long past his shift and even offering money from his own pocket for the trip.

Indian national Mohammed Sadiqe's troubles began on August 14, as he was preparing to take a flight from RAK International Airport to Calicut, where his wife's grandmother lay in hospital.

After completing the check-in procedure and reaching the immigration desk, he was told that his daughter's visa was displaying as having been cancelled from February, with a Dh3,800 fine incurred for overstaying until August. The visa, however, said it was valid through July 2018.

"The lady at the counter was surprised and called for the manager in charge. A Mr. Fahad walked in, and even he was surprised, and concluded this could be a system error," he told Khaleej Times. "He called the immigration officer in Dubai and they said that the sponsor -- myself -- had to go to DXB and sort out the issue, as it could have been a system error during an upgrade process."

"The entire thought of meeting her (his wife's) grandmother was draining, and my wife was in tears, as we were not sure when we would be able to fly again due to this unexpected situation," he added.

After being told by officials that the family could not fly that day and that they needed to go to Dubai, Sadiqe headed to the airline counter to request a refund -- which the airline denied, since a boarding pass had already been issued.

"I rushed to DXB with my family, and it was completely unknown to us where or whom to approach to have this sorted," he said. "We were all tense and worried."

Sadiqe first went to the immigration office in Al Twar, where he was told he had to go to the main branch in Al Jaddaf the following morning.

Major Matar to the rescue

It was here that the immigration officer, Major Mohammed Ahmed Matar, came to the rescue.

"We were very much exhausted and I was calling my friends to see if someone could help," he said. "That is when a gentleman (Major Matar) passed by and the lady at reception pointed at him and asked me to check if he can help."

"As he was leaving for home after his shift, I stopped him. He was very patient and listened to me, despite the fact that his shift was finished," Sadiqe added. "He checked further, and saw that the visa was stamped and valid until 2018, but was shown as cancelled in the system."

According to Sadiqe, Major Matar went back into his office, logged into the system, and waited for over an hour as the issue was sorted. He then told Sadiqe that it would be fixed within 24 hours, after which time the family could proceed on their voyage.

"I did not have that much time, as my wife's grandmother was already hospitalised and we needed to reach there as soon as possible," Sadiqe recalled. "The other major issue was that I had no money to purchase a ticket for all three of us a second time."

It was then that Major Matar pulled out his wallet, and handed Sadiqe the amount he needed to purchase the tickets for his family.

"I ignored (the offer) at first, but he forced me to keep the money to buy the ticket," Sadiqe said. "This brought me to tears."

Some hours later, Major Matar called Sadiqe and told him to book the next available flight departing from Dubai, send him the ticket details, and meet another immigration officer before proceeding to the counter, who helped the family complete the immigration process.

"Mr Mohammed was awake until 2:30am in the morning, just to ensure things were sorted and that we departed safely home," Sadiqe noted. "My family can never forget that day, and we would like to convey our prayers and thanks from the depths of ours hearts to Mohammed and his family for all the help."

"A big salute to the leaders of this nation for carving a generation full of kindness and respect for others," he added.

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