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Coronavirus: Stranded in Kazakhstan, two medical students desperate to return to Dubai

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on August 4, 2020 | Last updated on August 4, 2020 at 05.32 pm
Stranded, Kazakhstan, two, medical students, desperate, return, Dubai

(Supplied photo)

The young women - Aisha Ajmal, 21, and Sabah Tariq, 22 - both born and raised in Dubai, have been all alone in their hostel since the end of June.

Stranded at a private hostel since March 20, two medical students in Kazakhstan have appealed for help in returning home to their families in Dubai.

The young women - Aisha Ajmal, 21, and Sabah Tariq, 22 - both born and raised in Dubai, have been all alone in their hostel since the end of June.

While both students have received the necessary pre-travel approvals from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), as well as UAE-approved Covid-19 test results, no flights are operating to bring them home from Kazakhstan to the UAE.

"Since we are the only ones left in the building, the hostel has also stopped providing us food. We have to go out to nearby shops to purchase supplies," Aisha, an Indian national, said via video-call from their hostel in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan.

"As part of the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM), all the Indians in our hostel returned home by the end of June. Since then, we have been alone in the hostel. I did not go back to India because my entire family is in the UAE," she told Khaleej Times.

Moreover, her flatmate Sabah, a Pakistani passport-holder, would've been left alone if she travelled on a VBM flight. The two young women are taking up Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at the Astana Medical University.

'Living on bread, packed noodles'

Buying food has been a struggle, the duo said, so much so that they have started living on a diet of bread and packed noodles.

"A lot of the shops where we usually buy food are very far from us, and the number of Covid-19 cases in the city are increasing drastically. We try not to venture out too far away from our hostel," said Sabah.

There are about 92,662 Covid-19 cases in Kazakhstan with 1,058 deaths, according to global trackers. By the end of June, the women approached the UAE Embassy in Nur-Sultan. Though the diplomatic mission has been helpful, they are still unable to return because of the lack of flights from Astana International Airport to Dubai.

'All hopes pinned on one flight'

Aisha's father Mohammed Ajmal, a longtime employee of Dubai Aluminium Company (DAC), said: "All my kids were born and raised in Dubai. Sabah's father, Tareq Al Mazimi, is my colleague at DAC. We want our daughters to return to the UAE, which is their home."

Mohammed added: "We have booked seats on a flydubai flight from Nur-Sultan since March-end. But the flight keeps getting cancelled. We were very hopeful the girls would return before Eid Al Adha, but when that did not happen, our entire family got mentally distressed."

One flight will be operating from Nur-Sultan on August 12, according to the airline's website. "All our hopes are pinned on that flight," said Mohammed.

Tareq Al Mazimi, Sabah's father, added: "We just want them to come back. We are trying our best, and we knocked on every door possible to get them back. It is very difficult and mentally stressful for the girls." 


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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