UAE flights: Indian, Pakistani expats request end to rapid PCR testing

Incoming passengers from the countries must conduct the test at their airport of departure



By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Thu 11 Nov 2021, 4:40 PM

As India sent out a request to the UAE to end mandatory rapid PCR testing requirements for entry, Indian and Pakistani nationals reached out to Khaleej Times with the problems they faced while travelling from their countries.

Ananda Kumar, a resident of Dubai and a businessman, travels to Indian cities for business every month. He says the need for rapid testing greatly limits his time to purchase goods, as he needs to arrive early at the airport.

"It used to take only four hours from Ahmedabad to Dubai, but now it takes over eight hours as we have to arrive early at the airport," Kumar said.

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The textile merchant said that it was difficult for him to stay away from his office for over two days. The fact that a business trip now takes him about three days digs a hole in his pocket.

"My travel to India costs a lot more comparatively than earlier. Due to the soaring prices of commodities, I have to spend more on travelling within Indian cities. The rapid PCR test at the airports is also an additional cost which varies in different cities," Kumar said.

"Ending the rapid PCR test at the airport will bring relief to people travelling to the UAE."

Salim M, a Keralite who lives in Dubai, said: "It's a major hassle, especially for families with small children. We have to reach the airport six hours in advance to take the rapid test."

According to Salim, reining in his two young children, aged five and three years, was challenging.

"It was impossible to keep them still. We couldn't let them wander around the airport, and they had to remain masked all the time."

Ahmed Akram, a Pakistani national residing in the UAE, said that he had to travel to Pakistan to bring his parents on a visit to the country.

"It takes about six hours from my home town to get to the nearest international airport. We have to reach the airport at least five hours before the flight take-off time, and surely that was a tedious task to take care of my aging parents without sleep."

He added that the entire journey from his home town to Dubai, which used to take about eight to nine hours, took over 15 hours.

"I wish that this procedure ends soon as the Covid-19 positive cases in Pakistan is decreasing."

The UAE had banned incoming flights from India and Pakistan in April this year to curb the spread of Covid-19. However, the ban was lifted in August, and passengers are now able to fly into the country if they take a rapid PCR test at their airport of departure.

- ayaz@khaleejtimes.com


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