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India-Dubai travel: Frontliners keen to return home to the UAE amid new Covid safety rules

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on June 20, 2021

The recently announced change in protocols will go into effect on Wednesday, June 23.

UAE-based healthcare workers are hailing the government’s decision to allow stranded residence visa holders in India, who have received two doses of a UAE-approved vaccine, to travel to Dubai starting Wednesday, June 23.

This comes after the Emirate’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management updated travel protocols for inbound passengers from India, South Africa, and Nigeria on June 19.

Many Indian healthcare professionals who are desperate to return to the Gulf told Khaleej Times of their eagerness to return, ever since the country announced a suspension in flights on April 24.

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Bency Sobin, a registered nurse at Medcare Hospital, Sharjah said, “I came to Kerala for my annual holidays on April 10. I was to return in a month’s time, when the flight suspension was announced. Last year too, I got stuck in India for three months due to the lockdown and I had to return on a chartered flight. This year, again, I got stranded with my two boys."

Since the news of relaxed restrictions was announced, Sobin's husband, who is in Abu Dhabi, has been trying to book their return tickets to the UAE. However, she said, the website still shows bookings as being available only from July 6, as was announced earlier.

“I miss my life back in the UAE, my husband, my team members and the patients. I want to return home at the earliest as I am fully vaccinated,” she said.

Dr Fazle Ilahi, a general practitioner at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, had flown home to Bangalore with his wife and son in February to see his ailing parents. The sudden suspension of flights in April was just the start of an unexpected turn of events that led to a rollercoaster ride for the family.

“I came to India for my parents," said the doctor, who has called the UAE Capital home for the past 16 years. "My father had a stroke and my mother was diagnosed with Covid, post which she developed multiple health problems. She even suffered a heart attack not too long after. Meanwhile, my father-in-law passed away due to Covid-19 and my mother-in-law has also been unwell. We’ve been through a very difficult time. Apart from all this, the travel restrictions have also been a bit worrying. But there is a silver lining in the clouds now, as inoculated residents are allowed to return.”

Dr Om Prakash, Orthopedic Surgeon, who is now stuck in New Delhi, had gone to see his brother-in-law, as the latter had fallen critically ill.

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“I really appreciate the fact the Dubai government is thinking about its people. Many of us are fully vaccinated and we've been waiting to hear this good news. I came to India on emergency leave. My son has been taking online classes from Delhi. We will now start searching for the return tickets, as we see a glimmer of hope in being able to finally return to our life and work in the UAE,” said Dr Prakash, who works at the LLH Hospital, Abu Dhabi.

The three frontliners are just a few among several Indian healthcare professionals from the UAE who are fully vaccinated and currently stuck in India.

Their travel plans and stay in India were impacted due to the entry restrictions — but now, the only thought on their minds is planning a smooth trip back to their resident country.

Dr Shetal Gandhi, Specialist Anesthetist, Aster Hospital – Mankhool, opined, “The easing of travel restrictions for inbound passengers from India is truly a great respite. I am so thankful to the authorities in Dubai. I had originally planned to get back around the first week of June. I have been in India since December for some personal reasons. Now, I am not just relieved — I'm ecstatic.”





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