RIYADH (RAHNUMA) : The UAE has authorized special flights to repatriate hundreds of Emiratis back to the country, as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, state-run WAM has reported.
The first group – Emiratis either studying or receiving medical treatment in the UK – was flown back to the UAE on April 5, 2020. Another group will be repatriated on April 7.
The UAE Ambassador to the UK, Mansoor Abulhoul, said: “The welfare of our citizens is our highest priority. That is why our government took strict measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus within the UAE. Such a firm obligation also means getting our citizens home safe and sound at this difficult time.”
At least 43 flights were being organized to bring back 1,783 Emiratis stuck overseas after countries banned international travel to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, 345 British citizens flew to the UK on a special flight on April 5, 2020 as part of the repatriation efforts.
The British embassy had earlier said it was working with the UAE government to allow chartered flights for its citizens who wish to return to the UK. Carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways had announced they were to operate such flights.
“The Ministry continues to organize clearances for flights to repatriate foreign nationals. At all times we have sought to minimize disruption to travelers’ lives, while limiting the spread of the COVID-19 in the UAE,” Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti Al-Maktoum, Director of the Dubai office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said.
Lebanese expats earlier on Sunday began their return to the country after the government reopened Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport to receive flights carrying nationals stranded overseas.