Emotions ran high, tears of joy rolled down when many expats returned to the sultanate on Wednesday after months of being stuck in their home countries.
Families and friends arrived in droves at the Muscat International Airport and waited for their friends and loved ones.
Sunil Guddappa along with his wife and two children came from Chennai and their flight touched down in Muscat in the afternoon. While waiting for a friend to pick them up, he said, “I work in the government sector and we were stuck in India for five months. As soon as the announcement of airways opening was made we booked the very first flight. It feels nice to be back in Muscat once again.”
Guddappa said that he was fortunate to have a company accommodation. “I know some of my friends who had to pay rent for all these months even in their absence – some even not getting their salaries.”
Aslam Mohammad KP was waiting for his colleague Ranjith B to return. They both work in the same company as foremen.
Mohammad said, “I have been waiting forever for my friend’s return. We come from the same locality in Kerala.”
Ranjith on his arrival said, “I came down in AI0907 that took off at 11am from Chennai. It was a long journey from my home in Cochin via Chennai to be back here. The airfare was really very high.” He said he did not want to postpone his return any further as “the times are uncertain and if I waited any longer my livelihood would have been in danger”.
As more and more flights came down, one could see people from various nationalities emerging.
Waqas Qammar working as an engineer was stuck in Pakistan since April.
“I had gone for a vacation and soon the COVID-19 cases went up and everything got closed. It was a very tough time for me. I had almost lost hope,” he said.
“I have a decent job here. It feels great to be back. Oman has always been my second home and I spend quite a good amount of my life here.”
The airport is expected to be busy in the coming days.
Khalid Balushi, an airport taxi driver, said, “It is a return of good times for all of us. We welcome all the brothers and sisters who were stuck in their countries for long. Times were bad for all of us; but now we are hopeful that things will be ok again.”
Sami Sarang, a businessman who is arriving by Salam Air on Thursday at 4am from Karachi, has been stuck in Pakistan since he went for Ramadan.
“I didn’t expect a travel ban and I didn’t plan for a long stay. Because of this my business has been effected; I also had to send money for my house rent every month. I am also a model and I missed many projects. But now I am happy to be back. Once again I look forward to a fruitful stay here,” he said over phone.
Text and photos by Anirban Ray