India-Dubai travel: Stranded expats seek clarity on new Covid safety rules

Dubai - UAE residents stuck in India are cautious before booking their return flights.



(Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/Khaleej Times)
(Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/Khaleej Times)
by

Suneeti Ahuja Kohli

Published: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 3:27 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 3:33 PM

Stranded UAE residents from India, Nigeria, and South Africa have welcomed the news of the easing of travel restrictions, but await more clarity on several policy decisions before they rush to book their return flights.

Khaleej Times spoke with a few UAE residents who are stranded in India.

Non-vaccinated UAE residents

Jaffer Khan, an Indian expatriate who had travelled to Bangalore in January, has been unable to return since then.

“My company sent me on a furlough leave for three months. I was to return to the UAE and resume work in May, but the flights were suspended from April 24 onwards. I didn’t get vaccinated because I wasn’t aware of the UAE’s eligibility norms. I’ve taken an appointment for Monday (June 21). However, I’m uncertain about the second shot," he says.

"Will I be allowed to enter the UAE after I get my first shot? Or do I have to wait for another 84 days to get my second shot and then be allowed to return? Can I take the first dose in India and fly to the UAE and then maybe return to India for my second dose later?"

"I hope I get some clarity on these issues soon. I’m the only breadwinner of my family. I hope to be back in the UAE at the earliest,” said an anxious Khan.

There are also residents who took their first dose of the vaccine in the UAE before travelling to India.

“I took my first dose of AstraZeneca in Dubai; can I travel back to the UAE? Or should I take the second dose of AstraZeneca (Covishield) in India? Will that be accepted?” asked Abdul Wassim, a resident of Dubai.

Many stranded expats in India are also frantically searching for a list of rapid PCR test centres.

The new travel advisory requires taking a rapid PCR test four hours prior to boarding a flight to the UAE at airports, even though many of them do not have the facility.

Expired visas

Expats are also confused about the validity of their residence visas.

“My wife and daughter are UAE residents. They had travelled to India in March and were supposed to return in April. However, because of the suspension of flights they’re stranded in India," said Dipesh Shah, an engineer based in Dubai. Shah’s wife is vaccinated.

While my wife’s visa is still valid, my daughter’s visa has expired. I’m not sure if she will be able to travel on the current visa. I’m confused, but so eager to see them back here.”

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers

A number of stranded UAE residents are either pregnant or breastfeeding mothers who have not taken the vaccine yet.

Expat Indians quarantine abroad to return to UAE

“I'm the mother of a two-month-old baby and haven’t received the jab yet. I came to India on my maternity leave and have to resume work in July," said Chitra Vasudevan from her hometown in the north Indian state of Haryana.

"I’m happy about the news of easing travel restrictions, but I’m unsure if I am eligible to fly to the UAE with my baby. I don’t want to lose my job because of extended absence from work.”


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