A girl pulls her sister at Dubai International Airport as Emirates resumed limited outbound passenger flights. Reuters
Expatriates living in the UAE were elated as their family members, colleagues, friends stuck in other countries are now able to return as the UAE has lifted restriction on incoming flights from Monday onwards.
According to the decision taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation (MoFAIC) and the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) about two weeks ago, UAE residents who were holding valid visas but got stuck outside the UAE were asked to register through a website “smartservices.ica.gov.ae” to obtain the entry permits.
The announcements had brought solace to many residents who were on a holiday or were travelling abroad when international flights were stopped. Many businessmen were also anxious as their employees were also outside the UAE.
Sadaf Jabeen, who heads Sapphire Real Estate in Dubai, said that she was waiting for the resumption of international flights as one of the most important members of her team got stuck in Pakistan.
"Adnan Ali is working with us for a long time. With him around, we were quite confident of day-to-day affairs at the office. He was on a short trip to Pakistan to see her ailing mother, but got stuck there due to sudden restrictions on international flights. As soon as the UAE authorities announced the procedure to return to the UAE, he registered through the dedicated website. Now, as both the countries, Pakistan and the UAE, have opened up their air space, I hope he will join us soon,” she said.
However, people got stuck in India are still unable to take advantage of the UAE government’s decision, as India has decided to further delay resumption of international flights.
Faizan, a resident of Sharjah, said his family was in India on vacation when coronavirus lockdown was announced. He was elated when the UAE government made the announcement. However, he was unable to take advantage of the UAE’s benevolence as India has continued restriction on international flights.
Domestic air travel resumed across India on May 25, two months after the coronavirus lockdown announced by the government.
On May 30, the government announced further relaxation in the country from June 1, but extended restriction on international flights for a month. It will consider restarting international flights at the end of June.
The ICA explained that the website "smartservices.ica.gov.ae" which has been allocated for issuing resident entry permits witnessed great pressure immediately after the announcement of the initiative from those who were willing to return to the UAE.
The initiative aims to enable residents who work in the private sector and wish to return to their home countries to do so during the period of precautionary measures undertaken in the UAE to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.
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