Indian citizens queue at Kuwait International Airport before boarding a repatriation flight to India, in Kuwait City, on May 9, 2020. Now, with all commercial flights between India and Kuwait suspended until further notice, Indian expats are wondering when they will be able to go home.
Image Credit: AFP

Kuwait City: With all commercial flights between India and Kuwait suspended until further notice, Indian expats are wondering when they will be able to go home.

India is currently witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases and has an average of 300,000 new infections a day.

Many Indian expats are worried about when they will be able to travel, while others are stuck in limbo as they await to return to Kuwait.

“When I heard the news I got really upset because that means I can not travel for maybe another six to seven months. We don’t know when we can travel to India and see our family,” Anil Alva, a 45-year old accountant from Mangalore, told Gulf News.

Ravi, a 35-year old manager from Punjab, has been stuck in India since December 2020. He said, “It was very sad when I heard the news and the situation is not improving, so I am not sure when I can come back to Kuwait.”

The circular mentioned that all passengers traveling from India are only allowed to enter Kuwait if they quarantine in another country for 14-days prior to their arrival.

Imad Barakat, General Manager of Barakat Travel Agency, pointed out, “we are unsure where people traveling from India should quarantine since all the Gulf countries have banned flights from India and other options are too expensive.”

Situation made worse

Once the decision went into effect, Barakat explained that around 7,000 to 8,000 tickets booked from Kuwait to India between April 24 and May 31 were suspended.

While many people were caught off guard with the decision, many Indians in Kuwait did not travel home over the fear that they will not be able to come back due to travel restrictions.

Alva pointed out that he hasn’t travelled to India since December 2019 and hasn’t seen his parents in so long, but “at least my wife and kids are here so we did not want to take the risk and travel. Unlike many other bachelors that wanted to travel to see their families but were scared because they might be unable to come back and might lose their job.”

Since March 13, 2020, Indians have been unable to travel directly to Kuwait via commercial airlines as several travel restrictions were put in place, including the travel ban on 35 “high risk countries” which India was included in.

Those looking to return to Kuwait from the banned countries were required to quarantine in a non-banned country for 14 days But then on February 7, Kuwait imposed a ban barring all non-Kuwaitis from entering Kuwait until further notice.

Ravi travelled in December to see his family but was then stuck in transit as decisions kept changing. He was one of the many that traveled to a neighboring Gulf country to quarantine for 14-days but a few days before his due to return to Kuwait the ban was imposed. “I then stayed an extra two weeks [total one month in Dubai] thinking the ban would end but then I decided to go back to India because the expense started to become too much and we were unsure how long it was going to last.”

Domestic workers

While most Indians in Kuwait were barred from travelling directly to Kuwait, domestic workers, those that are under Article 20, were given the green light to enter Kuwait as of December 2020.

By the end of January 2021, around 9,500 domestic workers were registered on the BaSalamah application awaiting to return to Kuwait.

Then as of Saturday, even domestic workers were barred from travelling to Kuwait until further notice.