Combating coronavirus: Families in UAE excited as loved ones stranded abroad return  06/01/2020 22:01:00  2  Saman Haziq/Dubai
Combating, covid29, coronavirus, Families, UAE, excited, loved ones, stranded, abroad, return

Expats in the UAE - whose loved ones are stranded abroad due to Covid-19-triggered travel restrictions - finally have reason to celebrate. Starting Monday, residence visa holders started coming back to the country on special and regular flights operated by UAE carriers.

Students pursuing higher education abroad are among the expats who got stranded away from their families after countries around the world imposed travel bans to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Excited mother Nitu Maitra, whose daughter would be arriving to Dubai from the UK on June 2, she has a "deep sense of gratitude" to the UAE.

"It feels like I just got up from what I may call every parent's worst nightmare as I had almost lost hope. Just when I was on the verge of giving up, the UAE authorities gave us such a pleasant surprise in the form of the Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship (ICA) approval my daughter needed to book a ticket back to the UAE.

"My daughter was supposed to fly back on March 19. It has been a long wait, but when the approval came, it took all our pain away. We are thankful to the UAE authorities and its visionary leaders for reuniting us with our families," said Maitra.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the ICA announced on May 18 that residents with valid visas stranded outside the country can return from June 1. The UAE carriers are scheduled to operate flights to around 36 destinations this month.

Earlier, residents had to register on a Ministry of Foreign Affairs service called Twajudi, which fast-tracked the return of humanitarian or special cases.

'Brave girl'

Calling her daughter Shubani "a brave girl", Maitra said the final year law student was the only one left in her university building as the rest of the students had gone back to their home countries. "Despite grocery shortages, power cuts and the pandemic scare, I am amazed that she kept our spirits high with the faith she showed in the UAE. It's amazing how the UAE lends its spirit of positivity to all its residents.

"We have been in the UAE for over 25 years and this is our home."

Special flights even before June 1

Another grateful family is that of Deepa Rai Singhania, whose daughter Anusha landed from Toronto at the Dubai airport on May 24.

Happy about the royal treatment meted out to all passengers on these special flights, Singhania said: "We were so happy to just see our daughter wave at us from a distance at the airport. We were not allowed to take her home as all passengers were taken to five-star isolation facilities for a 14-day mandatory quarantine. I speak to her daily on Zoom and she is very happy with the services provided to them."

Twins Ashali and Adheesh Kataria were also among the few who landed on May 24 from Toronto. Their mother Meetu Kataria was relieved to see them just a month before their 19th birthday on June 25.

Kataria said her son and daughter study in different universities in Vancouver. She had booked them on the same flight on March 19, which was cancelled due to border closures. "Surprisingly when I applied for their Twajudi approval, my son's approval came in two days but we didn't want him to leave his sister alone. Her approval came almost a month later.

"It was a very emotional moment for us to see our kids. We are greatly indebted to the UAE authorities for reassuring us and keeping our kids in excellent quarantine facilities. We should be able to see them as soon as they complete their 14 days at the facility."

« Go back