Pakistan diplomats hopeful UAE flight ban lifts soon as thousands look to return

Officials are in talks and hope to see flights resume as early as next month

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Pakistani diplomats said they were hopeful a ban on flights to the UAE will be lifted soon.

The consulate general in Dubai said it is in talks with UAE officials to allow thousands of Pakistani expats to return to the Emirates.

Flights from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, were suspended earlier this month. Those countries have all reported cases of the Indian double variant.

A representative told The National the consulate was hopeful flights "would return to normal" soon.

My husband's job is on the line and we are stressed if our residency visas would expire by the time flights resume

Several Pakistani families who live in the UAE said they are worried that they could lose jobs if they were stranded for a prolonged period.

Hiba Jamal – a Dubai resident for the past seven years – travelled to Pakistan with her husband and four-year-old child for the Eid Al Fitr holidays.

They hope to return to their second home in the UAE, so Ms Jamal can deliver her baby and her husband can resume his job.

"We were all supposed to be back in the UAE before May 22," she told The National.

“My husband also came here to spend Eid with us, but now his job is on the line and we are stressed that our residency visas could expire by the time flights resume.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty and it’s such a traumatic situation. We couldn’t even celebrate Eid.”

Hiba Jamal with her husband and child, who went to Pakistan for the Eid Al Fitr holidays and are now stranded. Courtesy: Jamal family

Ms Jamal's husband lost his job in Dubai when the pandemic first started. Now the couple fears he will lose his new job as an accountant, because his employer requires him to work from the office.

Rafia Waseem is another resident who flew to Pakistan with her family to spend the Eid holidays there.

“My husband and I flew to Pakistan a few days ahead of Eid, but his boss has texted him to come back as soon as possible,” she said.

Farrah Ali, who has been living in Abu Dhabi for 11 years, travelled to Pakistan with her husband and two children on May 7, after her mother-in-law fell ill.

Her husband works as a banker and cannot work remotely.

“We can stay here, but my husband can’t, as he is the only breadwinner of our family,” Ms Ali said.

“We are trying to get a seat for him so he can go back to the UAE as soon as possible, but flights are suspended.”

More than a million Pakistanis live in the UAE and many went home to spend Eid with their families.

Pakistan, which has a population of more than 220 million, is battling a second wave of the virus. It reported 3,256 new cases and 104 deaths on Wednesday.

Strict measures were put in place across Pakistan ahead of Eid, including a temporary lockdown and reduction of inbound flights by 80 per cent.

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