Stranded Indians, Egyptians in Dubai rescued by volunteers, ministry

Dubai - Markaz Dubai deployed its volunteer wing to assist the distressed


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 25 Dec 2020, 3:27 PM

Last updated: Fri 25 Dec 2020, 8:17 PM

A group of volunteers from a Dubai-based centre have come to the rescue of nearly 300 Indian expats, who found themselves stranded after Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait shut their borders over fears about a new coronavirus strain.

The passengers had flown in to the UAE from different Indian states as part of a ‘Dubai package’, which included a 14-day quarantine at a hotel, and onward travel to different Gulf countries. However, the unexpected suspension of commercial flights by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman affected their travel plans.

Markaz Dubai, a religious and cultural centre, deployed its volunteer wing of Indian Cultural Foundation to provide the distressed with free food and accommodation. An official from Markaz Dubai said the entire relief operation was carried out under the guidance and directions of India’s Grand Mufti and Markaz patron Sheikh Aboobacker Ahmed ‘Kanthapuram’.

Dr Salam Saqafi, Markaz Dubai PR Manager, said: “We are taking care of our people. They were bound to travel to Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait from Dubai. They got stuck here because of a precautionary decision to suspend flight service by the three countries. They were here on a travel package and needed to vacate their hotel rooms. So, the Markaz Dubai and ICF volunteers stepped in to offer support.”

A dedicated team of volunteers charted out a logistics plan of facilitating their transportation, food and accommodation all for free.

“People have been provided all kinds of facilities like gym, free internet and more. Our volunteers are there around the clock,” said Luqman Mangad, ICF volunteer captain.

Timely support saves the day

The stranded passengers, who mostly hail from the Indian state of Kerala, are all praise for the timely support from the volunteer groups in Dubai.

Vijeesh, an expat from Kerala, was in a spot when his hotel informed him that the ‘travel package’ was expiring on December 24. Thankfully, help wasn’t far away.

“We didn’t know what to do and where to go. Markaz Dubai ICF came as saviour. I laud Ustad Kanthapuram for this kind gesture. We are enjoying high-quality facilities. We hope to fly to Saudi Arabia soon.”

Thomas, another Malayali, is grateful to the volunteers for their timely assistance, especially during the festive week. “I had taken a package to travel to Saudi Arabia via Dubai, including a 14-day quarantine at a hotel. My flight to Saudi Arabia was for today (December 25).”

For an expat from Dehradun, Uttarakhand state, a huddle together with different religions and castes is an eye opener.

“I was supposed to fly from New Delhi to Saudi Arabia, but since the direct flight got cancelled, I flew down to Dubai. I got stuck here. But, luckily, I received help from Markaz. They have even arranged north Indian food for me. People of all religions and castes are together here. I thank them.”

Shaukat Ali, an expat, added: “This is a great gesture of kindness from Markaz as we were clueless. Allah will bless them for this service.”

Egyptians stranded in the UAE

Many Egyptians are also stranded in the UAE, an Egyptian minister said.

Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriates Affairs Nabila Makram Abd El Shaheed said that more than 1,480 citizens were stranded in countries across the region.

“Most of them are in the UAE, then Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Sudan and Turkey,” the minister said.

Stranded nationals have registered with the ministry seeking assistance.

“The ministry is coordinating with concerned authorities to provide all forms of support to the stranded Egyptian community.”

The minister has appealed to all Egyptians to avoid travelling to ‘transit’ countries until there is clarity regarding the suspension of flight services.

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