Covid-19 restrictions have left some Dubai residents stranded outside the country after they travelled abroad for Christmas and the New Year.
Staying beyond their planned holiday time, sometimes without being able to leave, means the festive period has ended in frustration for many.
The National spoke to residents who are wondering when they will be able to return to the UAE after contracting the coronavirus while visiting family and loved ones abroad.
One resident, a software developer from Ireland, has been in isolation in a government facility in Poland since December 27, after testing positive at the airport on a layover for a connecting flight back to Dubai.
“Christmas was great at home and it was lovely to see the family. I did my PCR test on schedule and it came back negative. I even did a lateral flow test as I was leaving the house which was also negative,” said Dean Kane, 30, from County Down.
“The first leg of my journey was from Belfast to London. I landed and went straight to an airport hotel and slept as there was a seven-hour wait.
“The next morning there was a flight with a three-hour layover in Katowice, Poland. I was told I needed another PCR test even though I read online the one test for Dubai from Ireland would be enough.”
When the test came back positive, Mr Kane was taken in an ambulance to accommodation about a 30-minute drive from the airport.
“I am locked in from the outside and get three meals a day. I have a small television with only one channel that works, which is in Polish, and the staff don’t speak English.”
Mr Kane said he's hopeful he does not get a recurring positive test result so he can return to Dubai.
“I have to boil tap water from the bathroom for drinking water,” said Mr Kane.
“I had a couple of bottles but they have long run out.
“As it’s over the holidays there have been no staff on to go to the supermarket.”
Mr Kane said he was unsure if he would have to foot the bill for his stay in isolation, adding that the cost was not mentioned to him.
Another Dubai resident was due to fly back from Ireland on December 28 but tested positive despite having no symptoms.
“I am worried about the impact it’s going to have on my business,” said Catherine O’Farrell, who runs her own company that provides employment opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“I can work remotely but I also work very closely with a lot of schools and while there’s only a four-hour difference, it makes a big difference as things get done very early in the day with education.
“I have several projects that have had to be put on hold until I can get back to Dubai.”
One Dubai resident has spent several weeks out of the country after being in South Africa, visiting family with her husband when the country was placed on the UAE's red list.
“We were told we had to spend 14 days outside of South Africa then because it was on the red list,” said Julie, from London, who asked for her surname not to be used.
“Then we went to Zanzibar and were four days away from being able to travel back to the UAE when it was added to the red list as well.
“We have now gone to Muscat while we wait for the 14 days outside a red list country to pass but we have spent an absolute fortune on hotel bills and other costs.”