Golden Visa holder: Doctor family travels in nearly empty aircraft to UAE
DUBAI: The 10-year Golden Visa proved to be a lifeline for a doctor of Pakistani origin who, along with his family of four, flew from Karachi to Dubai in a nearly empty 300-seater Boeing 777 Gulf Air aircraft just in time for the Eid-ul-Azha celebrations, Khaleej Times reported on Monday.
Dr Syed Nadir, medical director and head of internal medicine at Dubai’s Adam Vital Hospital, had rushed to Karachi to see his ailing mother in the first week of June, as she was due to undergo an urgent bypass surgery.
“The Golden Visa gave us the confidence to fly back to my native Pakistan, amid the flight suspension to see my ailing mother. Many of my doctor friends are stuck in Pakistan due to the restrictions, but without the Golden Visas, it is only a waiting game for them,” Dr Nadir said.
“Since I know of no other doctor who travelled from Karachi to Dubai using a Golden Visa, my wife and I were apprehensive if we should take the risk or not. Due to my mother’s operation, we decided to go ahead, and we are glad we did.”
Dr Nadir, along with his wife and three kids, were one of the first Golden Visa holders to fly back to the UAE from Karachi since the suspension on the incoming scheduled passenger flights from Pakistan went into effect in May.
He travelled in the business class of the Gulf Air plane, even though he had paid only for the economy class seats at Dh2,000/ticket for a one-way flight from Karachi to Dubai.
The flight also had two more healthcare workers apart from Dr Nadir’s family, bringing the total number of passengers to seven.
“We took the risk and it paid off, thanks to the privilege and honour granted to us by the UAE government in the form of Golden Visa,” said his wife Dr Rabbia Khan, a breast and general surgeon at Mediclinic City Hospital, who was accompanied by their three children aged three to six years.
Although the seven passengers were allowed to choose their seats in the 300-seater aircraft, they were not allowed to move around to other seats after the plane took off, Dr Nadir told the Khaleej Times.
The doctor’s family, who had flown to Karachi at the end of June, returned to Dubai on July 20 during the Eid break.
Calling it a lifetime experience, Dr Nadir said: “This amazing trip from Karachi to Dubai has shown how powerful [the] UAE authorities are and how privileged my family and I are to get VIP treatment due to our Golden Visa status.”
Explaining the challenging part of the trip, Dr Nadir said: “It was hard to get tickets from Pakistan to [the] UAE, as very few flights are operating due to the flight suspension. The second challenge was that since no passenger had flown from Karachi to Dubai after the restrictions came into effect on May 12, the Pakistani authorities were a bit unsure about the procedures. Even after all the online approvals, the final approval for us to board the flight had to be taken at the time of check-in at [the] Karachi international airport, so that kept us on tenterhooks.”
Dr Nadir said that at the check-in counter at the Karachi airport, the airline staff makes one final call to Dubai immigration authorities to reconfirm if the particular passenger was a Golden Visa holder and if he or she can be allowed to board the flight. Only after the final go-ahead from the UAE authorities, the passenger was allowed to board the flight.
How Golden Visa holders can book tickets from home country to UAE
Explaining the process of returning from a restricted country to the UAE using a Golden Visa, Dr Nadir said that to travel from a Covid red-list country to the UAE was difficult, but Golden Visas made the process easy.
“Since only a few flights are operating between Pakistan and [the] UAE, I first checked which airlines were available. I found that the Emirates, Gulf Air and PIA flights were available, so I wrote an email to all the three airlines with my Golden Visa details, passport details, along with the GDRFA approval that I took, and requested them to help me return back to the UAE.”
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