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UAE flights: Visit visa holders take third-country route

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 23, 2021
Reuters file photo

Agents say the facility has been extended to visit visa and entry permit holders arriving in Dubai and Sharjah.


A handful of visit visa holders from restricted countries are staying in quarantine destinations for 14 days in order to enter the UAE, travel agents have said.

Important: How Indians, Pakistanis can enter Dubai with tourist visas

Passengers carrying passports issued by India, Pakistan, Nepal, Nigeria, Sri Lanka or Uganda are allowed to enter Dubai on tourist visas — provided that they had not been to these countries in the last 14 days, flydubai said on its website on Sunday.

Read on: Dubai extends expiry dates of residence visas for stranded expats, says flydubai

Agents say the facility has been extended to visit visa and entry permit holders arriving in Dubai and Sharjah. However, it is not immediately clear if tourist visa holders can land in Abu Dhabi.

“The facility is not new. It has been in place since the initial suspension of incoming passengers from restricted countries were announced. We have had at least 45 passengers who have flown into the UAE in this manner since April this year,” said Afi Ahmed, managing director of Smart Travels.

Dubai flights: GDRFA confirms extension of expired visas of some stranded expats

However, due to fast-changing travel protocols and high costs, the demand for this form of travel is limited to a handful of passengers, according to agents operating in the sector.

“Majority of the passengers prefer that direct travel be made possible for visit visa and entry permit holders,” Ahmed added.

Raheesh Babu, group COO of online travel agency Musafir.com, said his agency has assisted at least 15 visit visa holders who have quarantined in countries listed on the UAE’s green list.

Maldives and Uzbekistan are the most popular quarantine destination for tourist visa holders, the agents said.

“While Armenia is a popular third-country quarantine destination, it offers visa on arrival only to UAE residence visa holders. Instead, we are looking at nations that provide visas based on the travellers’ passport,” explained Babu.

Indian passport holders can travel easily to countries such as the Maldives and Uzbekistan.

“Now that Oman has also ended its travel suspensions, there is a possibility that passengers who are still stranded in restricted countries will quarantine in Muscat. Many UAE expatriates have relatives living in Muscat. We see this becoming a trend,” he added.

JP Nair, a traveller who travelled from Mumbai to Uzbekistan to Dubai on a visit visa in early July, said: “I was fired from an ad agency in Dubai in July-August last year. I had to cancel my residency visa and leave in September and I’ve been job hunting ever since. Finally, I landed a job in May this year and the lockdowns were in place. I had no other choice, except return this way as I desperately needed the job.”

Trip for one costs up to Dh8,000

While it is a viable travel option, travelling via third countries is an expensive affair.

“Travelling to the Maldives costs anything between Dh7,000 and Dh 8,000. The prices are the same for those wishing to travel to Tashkent,” said Raheesh Babu of Musafir.com.

Afi Ahmed of Smart Travels said only those who are desperate to travel into the UAE are booking such packages. “Job-seekers who have confirmed appointment letters are the most popular travellers.”

At another agency, Arooha Travellers, most enquiries were coming from expats who wanted to bring their families to the UAE. “For them, this option is very expensive. Instead, they would rather wait for when visit visa holders can directly travel into the UAE,” said Rashid Abbas, the firm’s managing director.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for over ten years. For Khaleej Times, she covers NRI affairs, civil aviation, and immigration issues among other things. She completed her BA in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008 and is currently pursuing her MA in Leadership and Innovation in Contemporary Media at the American University in Dubai. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves food, and is mom to an over-enthusiastic Labrador retriever. Tweet at her @shootsprintrite.





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