UAE halts all passenger flights for 2 weeks over corona scare

News Network
March 23, 2020

Dubai, Mar 23: All inbound, outbound and transit passenger flights to and from the United Arab Emirates – home to one of the world’s busiest hubs – are to be suspended for two weeks.

The UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) and General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has announced that passenger flights to, from and through the country will be suspended from 25 March for a period of two weeks, in order to “curb the spread of the Covid-19”.

Freight and emergency evacuation flights will still be permitted to operate.

The suspension affects major global hubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Dubai-based Emirates has already announced that it will suspend most of its passenger flights from 25 March.

“Additional examination and isolation arrangements will be taken later should flights resume, in order to ensure the safety of passengers, air crews and airport personnel and their protection from infection risks,” state the NCEMA and the GCAA.

Dubai International Airport was the third-busiest airport in the world in 2018, handling 89 million passengers.

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News Network
September 13,2020

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Riyadh, Sept 13: Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday that it would lift totally the restrictions on citizens for leaving and returning to the Kingdom, with opening all land, sea and airports starting from Jan. 1, 2021 in line with the coronavirus-related precautionary measures and protocols.

Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council states as well as expatriates and their dependents on valid visa will be allowed to enter the Kingdom effective from Sept. 15.

They include expatriates who have valid exit and reentry visa, work visa, residency permit (iqama) and visit visas provided that they fulfill all the coronavirus related precautionary measures and protocols and a coronavirus negative test result carried out 48 hours before the entry of the Kingdom.

The decision was taken on the basis of the reports presented by the competent authorities regarding the latest developments in combating the pandemic in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported quoting an official source at the Ministry of Interior.

The report highlighted the continuing high rates of the epidemic spread in a number of countries, some of which are currently facing a second wave of the pandemic.

The decision is also out of the government’s keenness on the safety and health of citizens in light of the possibility of not having a safe and effective vaccine to prevent this disease before the end of 2020, the spokesman said.

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News Network
September 10,2020

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Beirut, Sept 10: Over a month after a powerful blast rocked the port of Lebanese capital, a massive fire is raging at the Beirut port.

There has been no immediate information about what caused Thursday's fire, which sent a large column of black smoke into the sky, reported Al Jazeera.

The report citing the Lebanese army said the blaze was at a warehouse where oil and tires are placed in the port's duty-free zone.

Army helicopters were taking part in efforts to extinguish the fire, the agency said in its report.

The powerful blast in the port of the Lebanese capital that took place last month claimed the lives of at least 190 people while over 6,000 were injured.

The explosion, which caused massive damages and prompted the country's government to resign, was blamed on the improper storage of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate by the port authorities.

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News Network
September 23,2020

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Sharjah, Sep 23: An Indian expatriate cannot believe that he can finally go home after 20 years, with Dh750,000 of fine waived off by Sharjah authorities.

What's in a name? Even a letter matters, says Thanavel Mathiazhaagan, an Indian worker in the UAE who is set to return home after being granted a waiver of nearly Dh750,000 in overstay fines, reports Gulf News.

The man from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu claims that he could not avail amnesty opportunities in the UAE in the last 20 years as his identity verification was not cleared from India due to a mismatch in his father's name in documents back home and that shown in his passport. As it turns out, there was a spelling error in his father's name in the documents in India.

Mathiazhaagan, 56, said he himself realised this (the reason for not getting the clearance) only after his latest request for repatriation was taken up by two social workers in the UAE after he sought their help to return home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He told media that he had landed in the UAE in 2000 after paying Rs 120,000 (Dh6,048) to a recruitment agent for a job in Abu Dhabi. This could be verified from the stamp on his employment visa entry permit -- the only document that Mathiazhaagan has preserved, apart from a copy of the last page of his passport.

He said the agent had taken his original passport, claiming that his residence visa would be stamped in the passport once he gets the medical fitness certificate issued.

"I took the medical test and waited for my employment visa. But, the agent kept delaying it and later I got to know that the company, which was supposed to hire me, had shut down." Eventually, he said, the agent stopped answering his calls and could not be traced at all later.

"I stayed in a room with some people from my native place. I lived there for eight months with no job. After that I came to Sharjah and started doing odd jobs."

Mathiazhaagan said he illegally stayed in the UAE to feed his family by doing part-time jobs for various households and companies.

He claimed that he did try for returning home during the previous visa amnesty offers in the UAE and lost more than Dh10,000 to people who promised to help him with clearance of his documents that never came through.

Prior to the fine waiver announced till November 17 this year for people with expired visas or who had their visas cancelled before March 1 during the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE government had granted visa amnesties in 2003, 2007, 2012 and 2018.

Gulf News could not independently verify if Mathiazhaagan had indeed applied for an emergency certificate (EC), a one-way travel document issued to Indians without a valid passport, in order to facilitate their return home, during the earlier instances of amnesty.

However, A. K. Mahadevan and Chandra Prakash. P, who helped Mathiazhaagan get an EC through the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said he had failed to get identity clearance from India during the pandemic. They said they found out the reason behind the rejection only after Mathiazhaagan met Mahadevan, seeking help to return home.

"His name is Thanavel Mathiazhaagan as per the copy of the last page of his lost passport and the UAE entry permit," said Prakash, the Vice-President of Indian People's Forum, a community organisation that also pitched to get a travel clearance for Mathiazhaagan.

"Unfortunately, the documents sent by Trichy Regional Passport Office to the Senthurai Police Station for his identity verification showed his father's name as Thangavel whereas his father's actual name is Thanavel -- according to all other records. The additional letter 'g' in the name created the problem," said Prakash.

The duo said they approached the Indian Embassy and the local departments in Mathiazhaagan's village to rectify the mistake and process his documents. "Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor took special interest in solving this case after the issue was taken up with him," said Prakash.

Mahadevan said he was happy that Mathiazhaagan would be flying home soon and meeting his youngest daughter, who had not even been born when he left India for the UAE.

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