Covid-19: Free air tickets for Indian passengers stranded in UAE



Dubai - The tickets would be issued on a ‘means-tested’ basis to those who cannot afford to buy them.

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Wed 17 Feb 2021, 10:26 PM

The Consulate-General of India in Dubai has offered to provide free repatriation tickets to Indian citizens who are stranded in the UAE.

They were supposed to fly to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait but got stuck in the country because of Covid travel restrictions.

The tickets would be issued on a ‘means-tested’ basis to those who cannot afford to buy them, a consulate official told Khaleej Times.

The tickets are sponsored under the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) and will be offered to individuals who do not have the means to return.

Indian community groups and budget carrier Air India Express are also offering special all-inclusive fares of Dh285 and Dh330, respectively.

The decision to provide free air tickets follows an advisory issued by the Indian missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, discouraging Indians from travelling to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait via the UAE. The mission also urged stranded citizens to return home.

“The current travel situation is highly dynamic and we have urged Indians to avoid planning travels until their destination countries clear the entry restrictions,” the official said.

Most of the stranded travellers were exoats who wanted to return to their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Prashant J, a passenger, said: “Going back is not an option for many passengers who are stuck here. They have spent a lot of money and resources to come here, stay in quarantine, and go to Saudi Arabia. Their jobs and livelihoods depend on them going back.” He was trying to fly to KSA to get back to his work in the hospitality industry.

Another passenger, B Moideen Kutty, said: “I spent over Dh5,000 to come here so I can go to Saudi Arabia. Right now, I have no other choice but go back, but what about the ones whose livelihoods depend on their jobs.”

Stranded passengers have received help in terms of accommodation and air tickets from community groups, such as the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), which sheltered over 350 passengers in December last year.

Puthur Rahman, president of the UAE national committee of Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), said the Indian government should take stringent measures to stop Saudi and Kuwait-bound Indians from travelling via the UAE.

Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan

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