Covid: Pakistani expat goes on 'quarantine vacation' in Egypt to return to Dubai
Covid: Pakistani expat goes on 'quarantine vacation' in Egypt to return to DubaiHe decided taking the long route back to the UAE was his best bet, given the ongoing travel curbs.
Desperate to return to the UAE after an emergency trip to Karachi, a Pakistani expat went on a 14-day trip to Egypt to meet quarantine requirements — and, at the same time, enjoy a bit of a vacation.
Due to the Covid-related suspension of flights from Pakistan that went into effect in the UAE on May 13, Syed Muhammad Mudassir decided taking the long route back to his 'home away from home' in Dubai was his best bet under the circumstances.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, he said, “Initially, I planned to reach Dubai via Turkey, but realised Egypt would be a better option as it allows one to be on vacation rather than in quarantine,” he said.
Many UAE residents from South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal are currently stranded in their native countries due to Covid-related flight suspensions. And desperation is causing many of them to explore alternative routes back to Dubai — including via countries like Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Egypt, where they need to spend a mandatory 14 days first.
“I was considering many options but found Egypt to be a viable option because of the reasonable cost of living,” said Mudassir, who is a sales manager at Al Bloushi Travels.
"I was able to visit most of the scenic and tourist places in Egypt," he added.
Karachi to Cairo
Mudassir flew from Karachi to Cairo via Istanbul on June 13.
“I had the option to fly from either Doha or Turkey to Cairo. The layover duration at Doha Airport was higher, so I opted for Turkish Airlines with an eight-hour layover at the Istanbul Airport" he explained.
The one-way, 14-hour stopover flight to Cairo cost him Dh2,080. “I had all the valid documents handy. Visa for the arrival country and PCR test is mandatory at the airport,” he said.
Mudassir applied for an Egyptian visa through his travel agency by paying Dh100 at the Egyptian Consulate in Dubai. He said that the visa can be obtained from any travel agent, although the fees may differ. He had to produce a visa copy, a PCR test report, an air ticket to Dubai, and hotel booking details at all the airports.
He noted that visitors to Egypt can move around freely if they have a negative PCR certificate. “I was allowed to carry on with my tour in Egypt after testing negative for Covid-19. I spent about Dh3,000 in Egypt during my two-week stay,” he said.
A local mobile number can be obtained from the airport, and most places in Egypt offer Internet connectivity. Plenty of accommodation options are available across the country, he said.
“I booked a hotel for Dh 2,000 for 14 days. However, there are many options that cater to backpackers for Dh250-500 for the same time frame,” he added.
Cairo to Dubai
A flight ticket from Cairo to Dubai, with 40kg luggage allowance, cost Mudassir around Dh500 on Etihad — and he was able to fly into Abu Dhabi on June 28.
“Etihad Airways does not accept PCR test results from any random lab. The presence of Pure Health laboratories in Egypt makes it easy to get the PCR test done,” he said
“Residents who wish to get to Dubai should book their tickets accordingly if travelling by Etihad. The concerned team from the airline will drop you at Sheikh Zayed Road. If the ticket is booked for Abu Dhabi, one has to quarantine for 14 days in Abu Dhabi.”
Mudassir pointed out that stay in Egypt is quarantine for UAE, a UAE resident from a South Asian nation should request for an entry permit from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) online to arrive in Dubai or the Federal Identity and Citizen and Citizenship (ICA) to fly back to Abu Dhabi.