UAE Government Operation Brings More than 1,000 Home to UAE
ABU DHABI (31 March 2020) – More than 400 UAE nationals were returned to the UAE Saturday and Sunday on special charter flights in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The flights were part of an urgent UAE Government operation that safely repatriated almost half of the 4,200 Emiratis in the United States over the past week.
Emiratis who were spread across the US as students, medical patients and tourists were flown or driven to Washington, DC over the last few days for the special flights.
The flights also transported UAE residents – including Americans and other nationalities – who were stranded in the US after scheduled flights were suspended.
The inbound special Etihad Airways charter flights also carried US citizens from the UAE to Washington, DC. Through close collaboration with the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, 25 Americans were returned to the US as part of the operation.
Some Emirati patients receiving critical care remain in the United States. Medical conditions such as weakened immune systems or required therapeutic treatments restrict their travel.
“As UAE diplomats, our first priority is the health and well-being of UAE nationals,” said Shaima Gargash, Deputy Chief of Mission at the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC. “As the scope of the pandemic became clearer, UAE leadership called for the return of all Emirati nationals. At the direction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Embassy, Attachés and Consulates were mobilized rapidly to contact, assist and bring home more than 1,000 Emiratis as quickly as possible.”
The two Etihad Airways charter flights facilitated by the UAE Government left Washington, DC Dulles International Airport for Abu Dhabi on Saturday and Sunday. Hundreds of other Emiratis and residents were returned earlier on scheduled flights.
“UAE diplomats, led by Deputy Chief of Mission Shaima Gargash, have worked tirelessly to ensure the safe return of our citizens and residents to the UAE, and to support those who remain in the US,” said UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba. “I am deeply grateful for their dedication.”
Embassy diplomats coordinated with citizens and residents traveling on the repatriation flights to ensure adherence to appropriate public health measures. A medical team performed examinations to confirm that it was safe for all passengers to travel. Seating on the planes was organized to uphold proper social distancing. Upon return to the UAE, travelers will be tested for the virus and observe a precautionary 14-day self-isolation period.