Dubai - Hundreds of travellers continue to be stranded at DXB as authorities enforce entry requirements
Over 200 stranded tourist visa holders from India and Pakistan, who were unable to meet the minimum entry criteria set by the UAE Immigration authorities, had to fly back home on Thursday.
A total of 545 tourist visa holders from Pakistan and over 100 Indian nationals, predominantly jobseekers, have been stranded at Dubai International Airport since Wednesday.
Sources at the Pakistani and Indian diplomatic missions in Dubai, stranded passengers and travel companies in Dubai confirmed the reports. As of Thursday 1pm, over 200 passengers from India and Pakistan have already returned to their home countries.
Sources at the airport have also confirmed that travellers from some other South Asian and African countries are also stranded in a similar predicament.
The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai confirmed that the travellers were denied entry at DXB over non-compliance with entry requirements for tourist visa-holders. The UAE immigration rules mandate that passengers must carry a valid hotel reservation or a relative's reference, and a return ticket booking.
The authority also said that a vast majority of passengers who comply with visa rules face no delays upon their arrival at DXB.
Mission supports stranded Pakistanis
On Thursday, the Consulate-General of Pakistan said a total of 545 Pakistani nationals on visit visas, who arrived in Dubai on PIA, Air Blue, flydubai and Emirates, were denied entry into the UAE for not complying with certain entry conditions set by the UAE immigration authorities.
"Around 169 people have been repatriated since yesterday. We are sending back people stranded at the airport as and when seats are available on the aircraft. This is an ongoing process," said Ahmed Amjad Ali, Consul-General of Pakistan in Dubai.
A statement from the mission read: "With the Consulate-General's efforts, UAE authorities gave entry to some Pakistani nationals who met minimum requirements. The consulate made sure that food is provided to all Pakistani passengers. A team led by the Consul-General himself is at the airport to facilitate the passengers."
Over 57 Indian passengers stranded
Several Indian passengers arrived on GoAir flights from Kannur and Mumbai on Wednesday, said travel agents.
Neeraj Agarwal, Consul - Press, Information, and Culture at the Consulate General of India in Dubai, said at least 57 Indian passengers have been stranded at the airport since Wednesday night. "The consulate was notified of their status through our helpline. Our sources say at least 14 were allowed entry into Dubai, however the remaining have been stuck there since last night. Unconfirmed sources have said at least 50 been denied entry and they have returned to India," said Agarwal.
Consulate staff have come forward to extend their support to the stranded passengers, and provide them with food, water, and other amenities if required, said the official.
"We fully respect the local immigration laws and these rules have been in place for a long time. However, the passengers should've ideally been given a notification before boarding the flights. To my knowledge, these rules were not strictly enforced," added the diplomat.
Sudheesh TP, general manager of Deira Travels, said: "Several passengers from India are travelling to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait via Dubai, especially blue-collared workers. These categories of travellers will not meet these requirements."
He added: "Given the circumstances, it has also come to our understanding that airlines are now not allowing passengers who do not meet the basic criteria to board the flights from India."
'We would've cancelled our tickets'
On Thursday morning, airport authorities provided the passengers with food coupons. Amal Dev, a stranded passenger who arrived on the GoAir flight from Kannur at 9 pm, said: "This is my third visit to Dubai. I just completed a merchant navy course and my cousin found me a job in a yacht as a cadet in Dubai. I was hoping to get here and shift to employment visa."
Dev added: "Immigration authorities asked me if I had Dh2,000 and a hotel reservation with me, to which I replied no. I, along with 27 other Malayalee passengers were transferred to Terminal 3 where we have been stranded since last night."
The 23-year-old is worried he may be asked to return to India. "My father passed away seven months ago. He used to work here and I came here seeking a livelihood to support my family."
Another passenger said: "If we were informed at the airport before boarding the flight, we would've cancelled our tickets and made different arrangements."