#visitdubaiNEVER is the new hashtag Dubai should promote.
The lack of empathy and concern for what I was saying at Dubai Airport as I departed after my father’s passing away shocked me.
I arrived in Dubai on June 29 to visit my father who had been in the hospital for various serious ailments all month long, he finally was home the day I landed and so began his road to recovery. Being Canadian, upon landing I received a one month visa, and was told I will need to extend it if I planned to stay beyond the one month period. No information on how to do it was given, despite asking. No website or phone number either to consult.
On Wednesday July 26 two days prior to my visa running out my sister and I made a trip to Oman via Hatta, at the border we were again given various pieces of information. We paid the AED35 fee each to exit, my three kids and I and was directed to make a U-turn and enter UAE. At the UAE entry point we were told to return to Oman, get a visa with Oman’s entry and exit stamp and then return to enter UAE. We complied at the cost of AED200 each. The officer told us we could walk the 7 miles in Dubai’s July heat if we didn’t have a car. This to my kids aged 17, 12 and 10 and me.
After the Oman procedure, we were given the UAE entry stamp and I was assured by the UAE officer that I was good to stay in the UAE for another 40 days that would put me at September 3, 2017. I asked him once again to let me know if there was any other procedure I needed to complete as my father was ill and I wanted to stay the extra time – I was here for a visa change. He assured me I was good. I didn’t need to contact anyone or go to any other office.
My father passed away on August 6, 2017 and our family was obviously devastated. My kids and I were scheduled to leave, returning to Canada on August 23. With a heavy heart I bade my mother goodbye, and headed to the airport. At Dubai immigration I was told we had overstayed my visa by 16 days and my kids and I had to pay a fine of AED7360 in total in cash only.
I tried to calmly explain to the officer, showing him entry and exit stamps, but he rudely asked me to “go see that office for penalty’. At the penalty office the officer told me the amount of the fine and there was nothing he could do, and directed me to another office. Imagine having three kids in tow and running around Dubai Airport form office to office.
At the second office I pleaded my case, this is what the reply was, “We do not care if your father is sick or died, we do not care what you did, I do not want to see any stamp you must pay the AED 7360 and if you stay an extra day the penalty will increase. We take only cash.”
An officer in police uniform next to him tried to reason with him and got yelled at. I asked if I could pay by credit card since I had no other recourse, my 10yr old was in tears due to the officer’s loud reply.
I was directed to an ATM in the baggage check in area, when I went to use it, it wouldn’t accept my card as it didn’t have the interact system. My Credit card had a cash withdrawal limit so I couldn’t get all the cash. I had no phone.
#mydubai where I spent my childhood and teen years, where I grew up and where my heart still lies failed me at the most vulnerable time in my life – at the loss of my father. Fortunately a kind man lent me his phone so I called my uncle to send me cash so I could leave.
Why aren’t the rules clear? Why do the officers not tell us at immigration if we ask them how to do something? Why make it so inaccessible? Does Dubai really need the money by deceiving travelers?
I am appalled by the rudeness of the replies I received from ambassadors of a country that prides itself on hospitality and experience.