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UAE residents cry foul as Georgia denies visa on arrival

Kelly Clarke /Dubai
Filed on July 2, 2018 | Last updated on July 2, 2018 at 06.36 am
UAE residents cry foul as Georgia denies visa on arrival

(Alamy)

The ministry is following up the conditions of the UAE citizens in Georgia.

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) is investigating reports of alleged mistreatment of UAE citizens and residents at Georgia airports.

In a statement, the ministry said it is closely following up reports circulating on social media that a number of UAE nationals were subjected to ill-treatment at Georgia's airports, with many forced to turn back.

Ministry issues statement

"The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, along with the UAE Embassy in Tbilisi, are seriously monitoring the issue and giving it great consideration. The ministry is following up the conditions of the UAE citizens in Georgia and is working to provide them with all the care and services they need during their presence in Georgia," the statement read.

Despite official visa stipulations stating Emiratis and UAE expatriates (holding a legal UAE resident permit) receive a visa on arrival to Georgia, the reality for some travellers has been on the contrary.

Many claim they have been refused entry upon arrival to the popular holidaying destination.

Several UAE residents who reached out to Khaleej Times allege that they were turned away at Tbilisi International Airport, for "no valid reason".

On June 14, an Eid getaway for husband and wife, A. Begum and B. Mustafa, turned into a nightmare when they were deported by Georgia Immigration.

Working as an engineer and a banker in the UAE for 20 years, the couple - both in their 50s - said they were left "shocked" after being questioned by police and immigration officials for two hours.

"They separated us from other passengers and asked us to wait with some others, mostly Pakistan passport holders."

The couple had to explain the reason for their visit and Mustafa was interrogated about his occupation back in Dubai.

"After waiting more than two hours, we were escorted by a policeman to another place, and to our surprise, we were thrown back on a flight. We were deported without any explanation."

Not only did the couple lose thousands of dirhams on flights and hotel bookings, they described the ordeal as "physically and mentally humiliating". And Begum believes their nationality may have had something to do with it.

"My husband is a Palestinian holding Syrian travel documents and I am a Bangladeshi national. But we went through their visa requirement policy. It said a UAE resident with a valid residence permit does not need to obtain any prior visa, it is on arrival, so we fulfilled all the requirements through the travel agent."

Calling on the UAE government to look into the issue, she said she is still baffled by the way they were treated by Georgian authorities.

"We deserve an answer for this ruthless behaviour."

Sadly, this seems to be the plight of many travelling to the country.

Messi fan among those denied entry

For Indian national Clifin Francis, what was meant to be a dream journey from Sharjah to Russia vis his bicycle to see the World Cup, quickly turned sour when he reached Georgia's border via Azerbaijan.

"I heard several stories of issues that people faced trying to get into Georgia so I went to the Georgian Embassy in Baku first with all my paperwork.holiday insurance, hotel bookings, spending money etc, and they told me it would be fine."

But that was not the case. When he reached the border along with another fellow German cyclist, Francis was denied entry, as the German was let through.

"They just looked at my passport. They had no interest in seeing the paperwork I had. They were shouting at me in their language and they were very aggressive."

After being turned away with no valid reason as to why, he was stuck between the borders of Georgia and Azerbaijan for 24-hours, as he had to apply for an e-Visa to re-enter Azerbaijan.

"I felt like I was targeted because of my nationality. They gave no reason as to why I was turned away. I felt discriminated against. Why bother issuing e-visas for certain nationalities or asking for documented evidence if they are just going to refuse you entry?"

Despite several attempts, the Georgian Embassy in Kuwait did not comment or issue a statement.

Contact ministry in case of emergencies

Citizens and residents are urged to register in the 'Tawagudi' service on the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation's website to keep afresh of all travel instructions and advice. In cases of emergencies call +995595666466 or contact the ministry's call centre on 8004444.

Georgia visa requirements

>Emiratis: These passengers do not require a visa prior to travelling to Georgia. Visa is received on arrival to Georgia

>UAE expatriates: UAE emigrants who hold a legal resident permit of the UAE can also obtain a visa on arrival to Georgia

NANO EDIT

Make travel rules transparent

It is important for countries to place their entry/exit rules on record. Nothing can be more demoralising than being denied entry into a country after reaching the destination airport. Repetitive incidents do leave a negative mark on the port of entry with holiday-makers being apprehensive about planning a trip to that country.

kelly@khaleejtimes.com


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