Dubai, Jan 05, 2021: At least 40 Indians stranded in the UAE, awaiting travel to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have finally flown to the KSA after both countries resumed international flights on Sunday. However, hundreds still await safe passage, Khaleej Times has learnt.
Nearly 600 Indian expatriates were left stranded in the UAE during the end of December after Kuwait and Saudi Arabia closed their borders amid concerns about the new Covid-19 strain that has spread throughout Europe.
Neeraj Agarwal, Consul (press, information and culture) at the Consulate General of India in Dubai, confirmed that at least 40 passengers have left for Saudi since the borders re-opened. “In collaboration with the community groups that have come forward to support these stranded passengers, we are now considering the feasibility to arrange transport buses to drive them to Riyadh,” said Agarwal.
“The flights to Saudi are very few and far between and passengers are finding it hard to re-book their tickets. However, the cost of living here is also increasing,” he added. According to Agarwal, only 10 to 15 per cent of the total stranded passengers wish to fly to Kuwait.
Luckily for these stranded passengers, the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), UAE, provided free shelter to more than 200 passengers in Ajman. Similarly, nearly 300 expatriates were provided accommodation, thanks to Markaz Dubai.
Puttur Rahman, president of the UAE Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre’s (KMCC) National Committee, said: “We are working in collaboration with the Consulate and planning bus tours. However, this is still under discussion. For now, the stranded passengers are provided good accommodation.” Rahman added flight tickets to Saudi are available only after January 7 or 10. “We are also working with transport groups,” he said.
Advocate Ibrahim Khaleel, acting general secretary at KMCC, pointed out: “Two hotels were arranged for the stranded travellers at Dh40 per day, per passenger. The remaining was provided by KMCC. It is a bit difficult to get the tickets rescheduled and the available dates are available only after January 10.”