MANGALURU: With Saudi Arabia imposing a temporary suspension on air travel from 20 countries, the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi has asked Indians stuck in Dubai to consider returning and make their travel plans once the curbs are lifted.
Saudi Arabia, on February 2, had imposed a temporary suspension on the entry of citizens from 20 countries, including India, in order to curb the rise in COVID-19 cases. People quarantining in Dubai and those who were en route to Saudi were left in the lurch because of this sudden announcement, and decided to stay put in the hope that the curbs on the travel will be lifted soon.
However, the recent advisory issued by the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi has come as a rude shock to them as it states that it is not possible for Indian nationals to transit via Dubai and Abu Dhabi to travel to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. "All Indian nationals are therefore advised to kindly ascertain the latest covid related travel guidelines of their final destination country before embarking on an outward journey from India. They are also advised to carry enough personal provisions and funds to cater to any emergency requirements. All those Indian nationals who are already in UAE en route to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, are advised to consider returning to India and make their further travel plans only after the restrictions in the final destination countries are lifted.”
PA Hameed, a Riyadh-based activist, expressed disappointment over the Indian government's response. Hameed, who had written to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to bail out Indians said, "India could do more than this. A majority of those who are stranded in UAE are blue-collar workers who had returned to India several months ago after they were rendered jobless due to the pandemic. Now, they are risking their livelihoods to resume jobs and are in deep trouble because of this unexpected travel suspension. While some are coming to Saudi on visiting visas, there are several others who are dependent on their work visas that are likely to expire within a few weeks."
Hameed further stated that returning back to India is not a cakewalk, especially for blue-collared workers. "Problems for such people are piling on and on. They have spent every last penny, time, energy to get here in the middle of a pandemic by complying with the COVID-19 rules and regulations. I am hereby requesting the Indian government to initiate the process of diplomatic talks with their Saudi counterparts and at least help out those who are stranded in Dubai and allow them to enter Saudi Arabia. This will definitely bring a great amount of relief to close to 1000 NRIs and their families. In the worst case scenario, the Indian government should make repatriation arrangements for them," he requested.