India-UAE travel: Stranded expats jubilant as Dubai eases travel restrictions

Dubai - Residents express immense happiness after Dubai updated rules for inbound travellers.

By Dhanusha Gokulan/Syed Ayaz Basha

Published: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 3:28 AM

Last updated: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 11:08 AM

Scores of Indian residents, who've been stranded in their home country since April 24, have expressed immense happiness after the Government of Dubai updated its rules for inbound travellers.

Rules issued by the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management in Dubai allows fully vaccinated travellers to return to their homes in the UAE, effective Wednesday, June 23, the Dubai Media Office said on Saturday.

Listen to this story and more on the 8@8 with David Light podcast

The UAE suspended inbound passenger entry from India on April 24 amid an unusually severe second wave of Covid-19 infections. Since then, thousands of residents, including several hundred healthcare workers, have been stranded in India.

Many have been separated from their jobs, faced pay cuts, and are facing woes such as expired residency visas, Khaleej Times has learnt.

Healthcare workers have been appealing to UAE authorities to make an exception in their case as medical facilities were struggling due to a shortage of staff. Annamma John, a registered nurse with Medcare Hospital in Sharjah, said, "I arrived in India on April 13 on an emergency leave, and I've been stuck here since." She added, "I am thrilled and have been glued to the TV and websites after I heard this news. I have taken both the doses of Sinopharm vaccine. I plan to return to Dubai as soon as possible."

Dr Abdul Majeed, a doctor with Aster Hospital in Makhool, said, "I travelled to India as my brother was infected with Covid-19. I've been here for a month. I have taken both doses of the vaccination, and this news comes as a huge relief."

In an earlier interview with Khaleej Times, Fara Siddiqi, the group chief HR officer at Aster DM Healthcare, had said, "We have over 300 employees who are stuck in India due to the travel ban, with the majority of them being healthcare staff. Some of our employees were on vacation in their home country when the UAE announced flight cancellations."

Shahbaz Ali, the managing director of Reliance Aluminium and Glass LLC, said, "This was the news we have been waiting for. I took the vaccination in February – March. We faced a lot of problems as we are in the construction industry. I'm responsible for signing cheques, getting approvals and engineering-related meetings. So I need to be physically present for these things."

However, Ali had to perform a lot of this work over video conferencing. "Due to this, sales had taken a hit as I am also heading that department. Also, being the managing director of the company, the signatory things were getting delayed."

Zeba Naaz, the manager of Koncept Kreation LLC, said, "Since our company is into aluminium, our Business mostly deals on post-dated cheques and letter of credit payments. So it was a big task to make sure the orders are produced and delivered on time along with the procedure and collection of payments."

She added, "Business like ours needs monitoring and advance orders when it comes to sales. It was a task to manage it all without physically being present there. I got my vaccination in the UAE, and I've been in India for about six months. I'm ecstatic the rules have been relaxed."

Azeez Akrami, a 32-year-old businessman, said, "This is indeed great news for everyone. I have been in India for seven months, and I've been trying multiple ways to get back into Dubai. I am fully vaccinated, and I have already reached out to my travel agent for an air ticket."


More news from coronavirus