Women wearing face masks cross a road in Sharjah. Kamal Kassim/ Gulf Today
Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter
Pakistanis in the UAE have observed the Eid Al Fitr on a sombre note as the nation was coming to grips with a deadly plane crash in Karachi in which 97 people died and the pandemic of COVID-19 which so far has killed over 1,000 people across Pakistan.
A majority of the expatriate community in Dubai and Northern Emirates have observed the Eid on the directives of the UAE government in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and offered their Eid prayers at homes.
Many Pakistanis while talking to Gulf Today recalled the previous year’s traditional celebrations in which they observed the year’s biggest festivities with friends and families in the UAE.
Tahir Karim, a resident of Dubai, said that they used to offer the Eid prayers with the congregation at the Pakistan Mosque in Oudh Metha, Dubai where community members across the emirate gathered and met to exchange Eid greetings. “We all know that the coronavirus pandemic has changed everything for this year and the government has clearly laid down the instructions for safe Eid celebrations. We as responsible residents of the UAE are fully aware of our role in the control of the pandemic of COVID-19 and hope all will be good again soon,” he said.
Another resident of Rashidiya, Mohsin, told Gulf Today that “we are observing this Eid without any celebrations as just a couple of days ago we saw a tragic accident of a plane crash in Karachi which made us all deeply sad as our prayers are with the bereaved families.”
Kafeel, a resident of Ajman, said Eid was not as it used to be as “we are surrounded by multiple sad things around us. For the last over two months, a number of colleagues and friends have either lost their jobs or were forced to go on unpaid leave in the UAE as the COVID-19 caused massive layoffs. We are working to help such people with our limited resources to cope with these difficult times as there is no time or mood for any celebration of Eid festivities,” he said.
Fazal Quresh from Sharjah pointed that they were observing Eid Al Fitr solemnly due to the PIA plane crash in Karachi in which around 97 people killed and that left many families grieved.
“Such accidents are enough to shatter one’s mood as at the same time the whole world is fighting with the coronavirus pandemic with all available resources,” he added.
However, a number of expatriates from Pakistan have lost their jobs and are waiting in their accommodation to be repatriated through the special flights being started by the PIA from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These expatriates have no idea when they will get confirmation for their special fights as all are staying in the country without anything to do.
The Pakistan missions in the UAE have already been requesting the government of Pakistan to increase the frequency of special flights to repatriate more desperate community members already waiting for two months.
There are over 62,000 stranded Pakistanis registered with the consulate to be repatriated as so far around 11,000 passengers have been repatriated through over 34 special flights from Dubai.
The repatriation process of stranded Pakistanis in Dubai and Northern Emirates is smoothly going on through the country’s national carrier as to date approximately 7,100 passengers flew through 34 special flights from Dubai International Airport. There are 10 more special flights scheduled between May 26 to 31 for different cities of Pakistan.
This was stated by Ahmed Amjad Ali, Consul General of Pakistan in Dubai and Northern Emirates, while talking to Gulf Today on Saturday.
“The special flights operations have started since April 18 on the directive of the Government of Pakistan to repatriate desperate community members from the UAE including thousands stranded after they lost jobs and others were stuck after their visa expired. So far we have facilitated 34 special flights of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from Dubai to various stations in Pakistan,” he said.
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