What is Happening: Hundreds of Pakistanis stranded have been stranded at Dubai airport over the past few days due to non-compliance with new travel norms. Indian and Pakistani airlines have started flying back Dubai tourists who were stranded at the Dubai International Airport after being denied entry for not following immigration requirements. The Consul General of Pakistan in Dubai confirmed over 500 people were stranded in Dubai airport
Why it’s Happening: Despite having a valid tourist visa for the United Arab Emirates, many tourists are still being denied entry into the country. The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs sent out a circular stating that tourists arriving would need to show proof of 2000 United Arab Emirates Dirhams (AED). A second requirement for entry is a hotel booking or reservation for the duration of the stay in the country as well as a confirmed return ticket.
As most Pakistani and Indians entering UAE on tourist visas are labourers, they are unable to meet the requirements. Many do not possess return tickets as they have come in search of employment opportunities in the UAE. Some are also looking to travel further to other ‘Gulf Cooperation Council’ (GCC) countries as passenger entry into those countries directly from Pakistan isn’t allowed.
First Hand Experience: One of our writers at ProperGaanda recently traveled to Dubai over the weekend. He has said that the stranded passengers dilemma is an issue created due to the lack of communication between the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai with Pakistani airlines and travel agents. “The policy regarding 2000 AED required which many travelers are aware of comes with terms and conditions” he said. The 2000 AED, is the minimum needed to travel, but for those staying over 20 days, will need to increase their cash on hand. “The policy did not mention anything in regards to the 100 AED a day spending rule and none of the travelers knew of this. The immigration officers in Dubai ask you to show 100 AED a day for everyday one plans on staying in the UAE following the 20 day mark. ”
Our correspondent noted chaos at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal airport itself, where many Pakistanis were already denied a chance to board as they failed to meet the 2000 AED, hotel reservation and return ticket criterias and due not having a negative COVID-19 test completed within 96 hours of departure.
Upon reaching Dubai Airport, he noted airports assistants and workers from South Asian backgrounds desperately prepping non-English speaking blue collar Pakistanis and Indians on what to say during their interviews with immigration officers, including devising strategies to go one by one having collected money from other travelers if they failed to meet the monetary requirements.
“As soon as I reached the immigration counter and handed over my passport, the immigration officer noting I was a Pakistani, told me to head straight to the immigration office”. He recalled, “At the immigration office, while waiting for my turn I saw all the Pakistani ahead of me have their entry rejected. During my meeting I showed my cash on hand, and told the officer that I was born in the country and frequently traveled here, as could be seen on my passport and he stamped my entry into UAE.”
Many of those attempting to enter UAE do not have the luxury of being born there and of speaking in English or Arabic. There is a general disregard for what’s known as the ‘labour class’ due to the general insinuation that they are only entering for employment opportunities.
Our writer wants to stress the importance of the need for Pakistani mainstream media to better communicate with Pakistanis the shifting policies of travel into the GCC countries to avoid further grievances to Pakistani travelers.