A UAE-based Indian expatriate has become the latest passenger to fly solo from back home to Dubai.
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S.P. Singh Oberoi, a businessman and a philanthropist, who holds a 10-year golden visa, flew from Amritsar in the north Indian state of Punjab to Dubai via Air India flight (AI929) on Wednesday (June 23).
Incidentally, Wednesday was when the flight operations, which have been suspended between India and the UAE for the public since April 24 due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in the second and a lethal wave of the contagion, were supposed to resume, but have not started, despite the Dubai authorities’ announcement last Saturday (June 19).
Singh had a gala time on the flight, as he paid only Dh740 to cherish a lifetime experience.
"I was measuring the length of the plane by my steps," Singh quipped.
He told Khaleej Times that the pilot greeted him and gave him a royal treatment amid incessant clicking of his pictures on the empty flight.
Singh vividly recalled the moment he arrived at the Dubai International Airport (DXB).
“I underwent a PCR test at the airport. The airport staff asked me about my co-passengers, and they’re surprised to know that I was the only one on the flight,” he added.
Singh praised the immigration system that has been put in place for the golden visa holders.
"Earlier, I was told by my family members and friends and that I won’t be allowed to travel. But I ticked all the boxes and had all the valid documents to enter the UAE. Surely, there are many benefits of holding a golden visa,” he said.
Singh, 66, who is a prominent social worker and hails from Patiala, an erstwhile princely state in Punjab, had played an active role in repatriation of Indian labourers and other compatriots during the Covid-19-enforced lockdown restrictions last year.
Initially, he had come to Dubai to work as a mechanic. He worked for four years and returned to his native Punjab to start his own company that supplied construction and building materials.
Later, he returned to Dubai in 1993 and started his own General Trading Company and Dubai Grand Hotel in 1998. Singh also started Oberoi Properties & Investments LLC in 2004.
The UAE authorities are allowing diplomats, golden visa holders, and Emiratis to travel from India amid the travel ban since April 24.
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