Pakistani residents of the United Arab Emirates who since March have not been able to return to their homes in the Gulf country, have lauded its government’s decision to allow them entry despite airspace closure.
Foreign residents with valid visas will now be allowed to return to the UAE starting from June 1, the UAE government announced late Monday.
Stranded UAE residents, including Pakistani nationals, who raised the issue on social media with the hashtag #bringbackUAEresidents, said they were elated to hear the news.
The UAE closed its airspace on March 21 to contain the spread of coronavirus, and while it has been repatriating its citizens from abroad, there is a large number of non-citizen residents who have settled down in the country and consider it home.
Many of them were abroad when international travel was halted and have been separated from their families in the UAE ever since, unable to return to their workplaces.
While the Gulf country opened its airspace for special repatriation flights to Pakistan on April 24, only a handful of Pakistani residents registered with the Twajudi service of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs received approval to return, promoting a group of some 1,000 of them to appeal to UAE authorities to allow them back home on humanitarian grounds.
Farheen Amjad, who has recently moved to the UAE after getting married but had to travel back to Islamabad to complete the last semester of studies for her bachelor’s degree, said her prayers had been answered.
“I am really happy about the update and you can say it is an Eid gift before Eid,” Farheen told Arab News on Tuesday. “I cannot wait to travel and join my husband and in-laws whom I haven’t seen for the past two months,” she said.
Ayesha Saad, a mother who is currently in Karachi and has been separated from her Dubai-based daughters and husband for the past two months, told Arab News that her family was super excited over the news.
“I have three daughters aged between two years to eight years. I had to bring my youngest to Karachi for a surgery after which I got stuck here. My other kids are now studying from home and my husband is managing, but it is very difficult for me to be away from them,” Ayesha told Arab News on Tuesday. “I am hoping to get the Twajudi approval as soon as possible,” she added.