Edgar Sanchez is among the Filipino frontliners in the UAE who has been serving the country for over 14 years in the field. However, when he went home for a vacation last March 9, he did not expect that he would be stranded in the Philippines after his initial March 31 flight had been cancelled.
“Dismayado po ako at kinabahan noong nalaman ko na hindi po pala ako makakalipad pabalik ng UAE. Mula noon inabangan ko ang developments ng UAE para malaman kung kailan ako makakabalik,” said Sanchez.
During his stay in the Philippines, Sanchez was in constant communication with his manager who asked when he will be returning for work. But due to the updates on flight cancellations, he was forced to stay in the Philippines for the meantime.
“Tinanong ako ng manager ko kung kailan ako makakabalik sa UAE. Nagpapasalamat ako kasi buo ang suporta nya lalo na sa pagtulong sa akin para ipaliwanag sa HR ang sitwasyon ko para ilagay ako sa extended at crisis leave nitong mga nagdaang araw,” recalled Sanchez.
When Sanchez learned that the UAE had begun to accept back resident visa holders, he immediately joined thousands of residents from all over the world who applied to get their permits through the online portal of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA).
However, he too faced several rejections – but this didn’t hinder him from reapplying several times.
“Una kong apply sa ICA was returned back to me. Yung pangalawa after five days it was rejected. Tapos yung pangatlo ko nung May 19, nakatanggap ako ng email na yung application ko was under process matapos ang ilang araw… nung May 25. Sinabi doon na maghintay daw ako ng 10 working days para malaman ang resulta,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez received his ICA approval last June 13 and immediately booked a ticket back to UAE at the earliest possible date, which was June 19. He arrived back in the UAE the following day, June 20.
Return to UAE
Sanchez landed in Dubai on the wee hours of June 20 at 4:05 am. He, along with his fellow passengers, went for the mandatory swab test and filled out several forms before they headed to the immigration counter.
He was then asked to download the COVID-19 DXB Smart app to get his test results and for monitoring as well.
“Matapos yung mga papeles at swab test, dinala kami ng taxi sa isang hotel free of charge at doon kami nag quarantine. Nung lumabas na yung resulta after 24 hours, pinayagan na kaming makabalik sa aming bahay,” said Sanchez.
As a resident from Al Ain, Sanchez had to fork out AED 275 to get a taxi that took him from his quarantine area all the way to Al Ain. He advises residents to have their results and flight tickets at the ready near the border to be allowed entry to Abu Dhabi.
“Ihanda po ninyo na ipakita ang inyong test result pati na ang inyong ticket pag nag-cross na kayo ng border ng Dubai papuntang Abu Dhabi. Mainam din na siguraduhing naka suot kayo ng protective gear habang nasa sasakyan,” suggested Sanchez.
Sanchez thanks the UAE government not just for helping him return to the country, he also commended their efforts to ensure the recovery of those who have contracted the disease.
“The UAE government fought the right battle with adequate and responsive measures against the coronavirus. While cases were high, they also have a high number of recovered COVID-19 patients and are strict in penalizing violators of preventive measures,” said Sanchez.