The authorities in Dubai have issued an explanation after thousands of arriving tourist visa holders were denied entry since October 13 from five countries.
According to Brig. Talal Ahmed AlShanqeti, director-general of the airport staff affairs sector at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA), the tourist visa holders were denied entry as they ‘unqualified’ jobseekers carrying dummy return tickets and hotel reservations, and don’t have the means to pay for their living.
They were not allowed to pass through the airport after they were investigated by the immigration authorities at the arrivals terminal.
“The stranded passengers were not genuine tourists. They were unqualified job seekers who arrived with no means to fend for themselves. They did not have any money for transportation. Moreover, many could not even read the immigration forms,” AlShanqeti told Khaleej Times.
Meanwhile, those who were able to present proper documentation were allowed to enter the emirate.
“All passengers were interviewed at the arrivals terminal by immigration authorities. Many claimed they are tourists who have come to see Dubai and visit their relatives. After our investigation, we found that their hotel reservations were either fake or canceled. Our officers called the hotels to check–the bookings were fake,” he added.
According to earlier reports, more than 1,300 Pakistan and nearly 250 Indians were denied entry into Dubai since October 13 for not complying with pre-travel requirements.
He also debunked reports that they have ‘tightened’ the visa rules from five countries.
“More than 50 percent of the incoming tourists arrive from a few South Asian countries. They are all genuine tourists. The passengers who are being denied entry are less than one percent of the total incoming tourists from these five countries that the media mentioned. The situation with these passengers was concluded after our investigation at the counters,” he said.
Al Shanqeti said that the visa rules apply to all passengers who are on tourist or visit visas.
“If we are not convinced they are genuine tourists, then they cannot enter the UAE. These policies are not limited to Dubai; these are international travel practices. Many of them end up becoming destitute here. Since the pandemic, even toilets in all mosques have been closed. Where will they go?” the official further said.
Meanwhile, those ‘genuine tourists’ who have relatives in the country were allowed to enter as long as they showed proof and have visited Dubai before.
“There are also some reports that the issue only took place at Terminal 3 of Dubai Airport, which is false. We had some passengers who were stranded at Terminal 2 as well,” he added.