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For Indians in Qatar, it’s business as usual

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 09, 2017

There is no panic among the Indians in Qatar, and the political stand-off is expected to be resolved soon   -  Shutterstock.com

But the trip back home for summer seems elusive

For the almost five lakh Keralites in the diplomatically isolated West Asian state of Qatar, it is business as usual, according to multiple sources interacting with BusinessLine from different destinations in the Arabian Gulf.

They need to worry, if at all, on two counts only — the tickets booked months in advance for the trip home during the holiday season; and the fear of Big Brother scanning the social media for ‘politically sensitive’ comments.

For this reason, these sources were not willing to be quoted for this story. The fear was contagious in nature, and prevented another source based in the UAE also from going on record.

One of the sources recounted the experience of a fellow Keralite working with a bank in Doha who could not fly home to attend the cremation of his father who passed away a couple of days ago.

Cancelled flights

He could not fly out since Qatar Airways is not allowed to fly over UAE airspace. The flight did not get permission to fly over Iran either.

Explaining the prevailing state of affairs, he said, for now, all the popular airlines from the Gulf — Emirates, Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Etihad and Gulf Air — have all suspended operations to Qatar.

Qatar Airways is not allowed to fly into the UAE either. Meanwhile, the airline has started reimbursing the unused tickets. Qatar’s land borders are closed. Exchange houses have stopped accepting Qatari Riyal.

Anybody posting any material on social media supporting Qatar’s cause will attract fines in the UAE. The source there said that UAE-based companies fear an adverse impact on business due to suspended relations with Qatar.

However, the expats in Qatar haven’t shown any sign of panic just yet. Business is as usual everywhere.

Much at stake

Another source speaking from Dubai said that the diaspora there expects the whole issue to be sorted out sooner than later. Qatar cannot afford to prolong the uncertainty for longer since is is preparing to host World Cup Football in 2022.

The Indian Embassy has offered any help in case of need. But there is no panic situation of any kind to trigger requests of any kind. In the initial days of the controversy, people had started stocking up food and essentials, fearing scarcity. Now the worries have eased.

Published on June 09, 2017
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