Many in Oman held back their plans of Dubai trips due to the closure of land borders once again with the rise in COVID-19 cases globally.
As directed by the Supreme Committee tasked with tackling developments resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Sunday, land borders of Oman will remain closed until further notice so as to control the spread of the pandemic.
Restrictions on trans-border movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic compelled Piya Pawani, a model from the sultanate, to skip an award ceremony in Dubai last month.
She was nominated for Filmfare Social Media Award that took place in a Dubai resort in January. She described the nomination as a ‘good break’ in her career.
“It was on short notice. I could not take a flight. I had to drop the plan of attending the event,” she said.
“Travelling to Dubai by road or flight was easy before the pandemic and I definitely made full use of it. My parents are based in Dubai and I used to travel every month, often twice, to visit them,” Piya said.
“The new year had brought a little hope. But with the borders being closed again, visiting Dubai is now difficult,” she added.
Tariq al Barwani, a noted IT expert and motivational speaker, often travels to Dubai for conferences and meetings. A popular face at expos, he was often seen in panel discussions.
Barwani, however, chose not to travel this time.
“I didn’t go to Dubai and I have put all my travels outside Oman on pause mode till post COVID-19 era. It’s not worth travelling either for business or pleasure,” he said.
Businesses have also been severely impacted due to the restrictions.
On weekends and during holidays, people used to visit Oman from Dubai and vice-versa by roads. Not only was it economical but also comfortable.
There were bus services that ran to and fro almost every couple of hours. Besides tourists, businessmen and students also travelled to Dubai.
Now with the land border restrictions, there are fewer passengers.
Surya Muduli, general manager of Royal Crown Hotel, said, “Many of our hotel bookings got cancelled from businessmen and tourists coming from Dubai, as road borders were closed. People avoid coming by air due to long waiting and lengthy procedures. Even for myself, I had to cancel my visit to Dubai for our business purposes.”
Many Omani residents also had got stuck on the other side of the border due to the border closure. While some had work, others were there to meet families.
“I was born and raised in Abu Dhabi and my parents live there. I had gone there for a short visit and was stuck with the prolonging border closure. I was desperate to come back and join office but everything was closed. I tried four borders in the UAE yet all denied me citing safety regulations,” said an Omani engineer who wished to remain anonymous.
“Finally, my office suggested I take a flight and come back in case the airports are also closed. I spent RO80 and came. That was the most reasonable ticket as others cost more than RO150.”
He said he had to spend two extra weeks in Abu Dhabi.
“I met many such people at the border who were denied return by roads.”
However, he added that “people are relieved as according to the new rule, Omanis can come back and be in home quarantine”.