Covid-19: Dubai firm to cover pre-travel PCR test costs of staff

He employs a total of 34 staff across all branches of Smart Travels



Indian businessman and managing director of Smart Travels Afi Ahmed with employees of Smart Travels. (Photo: Supplied)
Indian businessman and managing director of Smart Travels Afi Ahmed with employees of Smart Travels. (Photo: Supplied)
by

Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Mon 22 Nov 2021, 7:10 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 Nov 2021, 7:20 PM

To make his employees feel better appreciated, a Dubai-based travel agency has agreed to cover the pre-travel RT-PCR costs of his employees.

Indian businessman and managing director of Smart Travels Afi Ahmed has promised to pay for his employees' mandatory pre-travel RT-PCR tests.

"I will pay for the tests as long as pre-travel Covid-19 tests are mandatory," said Ahmed. He employs a total of 34 staff across all branches of Smart Travels.

The company will also pay for the return tests, to be taken 48 hours before their journey, and the rapid RT-PCR tests that must be taken at the airport before return.

"Most of my staff are from the sub-continent. All travellers from the region have to undergo at least five RT-PCR tests to travel from Dubai and back. The entire cost comes up to approx. Dh 250 per traveller," said Ahmed.

He explained, "I recently travelled to India and while returning, one of our employees was travelling with me. When he had to pay for the rapid tests at the airport, I realised he was finding it hard to pay for it. That's when I decided to pay for him and made up my mind to pay for all other employees' tests."

While the pre-travel test from private testing centres cost approximately Dh80, rapid PCR tests at the airport cost anything between INR2500 to INR4,000 from India, depending on the destination.

Ahmed said, "He (the employee) was so happy when I volunteered to pay for the test. Regular white-collared workers can afford to pay for the test easily. It does not mean it is the same for all range of workers."

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Ahmed hopes he can inspire other companies to follow his example.

"Pre-pandemic, I had about 93 employees. I had to close down six of my agency branches. It was a very tough time [for the company]. It was more challenging for my employees. I am hoping that in three months' time, I can bring back the staff strength to 60," he added.

This is not the first time Ahmed launched welfare initiatives for his employees.

In June this year, he decided to pay salaries to his employees' mothers back home. "Since then, all the mothers' of my staff have been getting a stipend of INR5000 (Dh250). This was one of the best decisions of my life," he said.

Ahmed plans to bring all the mothers to Dubai on visit to check out Dubai Expo 2020 early next year.

The company also provides a yearly ticket to all its employees.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com


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