The last flights before a ban on travel between Saudi Arabia and the UAE comes into effect were set to take off on Sunday night.
Tourists and workers who are in the Emirates were expected to make up the bulk of passengers on Emirates and flydubai services to Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman from Dubai International Airport.
Saudi Arabia will prohibit passengers from Ethiopia, UAE, Vietnam and Afghanistan from 11pm on Sunday. Saudia told state-owned broadcaster Al Ekhbariya it had scheduled 23 flights between UAE and Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
In addition, Emirates’ website lists the final three flights it will be running before the ban: Dubai‑Jeddah‑Dubai – EK2805 / EK2806, Dubai‑Riyadh‑Dubai – EK2817/ EK 2818 and Dubai‑Dammam‑Dubai – EK2821/ EK2822
Seats were still being advertised on some booking sites on Sunday - but many passengers found planes were full when they phoned up to book.
“Customers with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as their final destination, arriving on/after 05 July 2021, will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin,” the Emirates website said .
Saudi Arabia had previously lifted travel restrictions on 11 countries, including the UAE, in May.
Etihad said it was "working closely with impacted guests to notify them of the changes to their itineraries,” the airline said.
“This is an evolving situation and we will update guests as more information becomes available.”
Flydubai's website states the last flight to Dammam takes off from Dubai from 9pm on Sunday, with “no flights available” for the rest of the week.
Grounded a day before move to Saudi Arabia
Donna Anthony, 39, was due to move to Riyadh on Monday, July 5, and was spending her last night in Dubai in a hotel after moving out of her home last week.
When her company tried to bring her flight forward by a day, they were told all seats were full.
“I have nowhere to live at the minute because I packed up my belongings and moved out of my villa in Jumeirah One last week,” Ms Anthony told The National.
“I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen now as it could be months again before the Saudi border opens up again.”
Ms Anthony, from Wales, has worked remotely as a commercial manager for her new employer, a development firm in Riyadh, since March and was eagerly looking forward to finally meeting her new colleagues in person.
Her husband also began working remotely last week with a company based in Saudi Arabia.
“I might have to go back to the UK and quarantine in a hotel for 10 days and then travel to Saudi Arabia,” said Ms Anthony.
“My employers have been flexible about it as they have been hiring people from all over the world and accept it’s a difficult time for everyone.”