Wednesday, September 22, 2021
NRIConfusion looms over Gulf travel rules

Confusion looms over Gulf travel rules

Published: 24th Jul 2021 6:52 pm

Jeddah: Stranded NRI community back home in India has been struggling to get information on visa on arrival rules in Qatar and Maldives.

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Several NRIs, a large number of them from Telangana, have taken to social media platforms to bring awareness about incorrect and half information about procedures of visa on arrival in these countries.

Travel agents who lack credentials, and in some cases, even physical addresses are using social media platforms to lure desperate Gulf passengers. There have been instances where they vanish after collecting money through digital platforms. With the UAE, Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf countries banning all incoming flights from India, desperate NRIs who are forced to travel via a third country are the worst hit as their travel plans have gone awry in the absence of any proper information.

Stranded NRIs were overwhelmed by Qatar’s announcement of visa on arrival for Indians. They also welcomed the move by Maldives to revoke suspension of tourist visas for Indians as the two countries are closer home than countries in Europe.

The latest incident of 17 NRIs denied entry since they did not have credit or debit cards, sending them back to India and 10-day mandatory hotel quarantine has left many flummoxed.

NRIs who registered through Ehteraz, the official portal of Qatar, received a mail stating that 10-day hotel quarantine was mandatory which contradicted the earlier announcement of waiver for those who had taken vaccines approved by Qatar.

The 17 NRIs, all of them from Kerala, arrived by Air India Express flight from Kozhikode, holding valid Saudi visas and fully vaccinated but were denied visa upon their arrival at Doha in Qatar and were repatriated back home from the airport for not fulfilling the finance criteria.

They failed to prove having cash or credit/debit cards with 5,000 Qatari Riyals in a random check upon their arrival. They were sent back to India following a 10-hour ordeal at the airport, according to sources.

Several travel agencies in Hyderabad have been offering Qatar packages for Saudi and UAE-bound NRIs. Besides approved vaccination, the visitor must have at least 5,000 Qatari Riyals, equivalent to Rs 1 lakh, or credit or debit card with the same available balance to avail visa on arrival in Qatar for Indians, but this is being ignored.

Some travel agents in India misguide travelers about the cost of packages for Maldives. There are different rates for staying in hinterland islands and inhabited islands. Maldives consists of 1,190 islands, with only 185 of them inhabited.

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