Returning to Dubai from Pakistan? Expat shares experience

Estimated read time 10 min read

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Consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis.” byline=”Expat Media” caption=”Shehzad Anjum (inset) is a customer service advisor and trainer in Dubai.” credits=”SUPPLIED”]


DUBAI – After two UAE re-entry rejections and more than four months in Pakistan, UAE resident Shehzad Anjum was finally able to return to the emirates earlier this month.

The 39-year-old customer service advisor and trainer said it wasn’t an easy feat.

Anjum had flown to Pakistan on March 1 for vacation and couldn’t return due to travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

He ended up extending his holiday to four months and 15 days in his home country.

“I learnt many new things, including cooking new dishes. I spent most of my time helping my son with his online classes,” Anjum told

The Pakistani, a resident of Dubai in the last four years, said it took him two ICA rejections before he was permitted to return to the emirate.

ALSO READ: Filipino shares experience returning to Dubai after 4-month wait

UAE authorities only recently relaxed travel rules by scrapping entry permits for those landing in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, but prior to August 12, all expats returning to the UAE were required to secure an entry permit from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) or the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) for those with residence visas issued in Dubai. Currently, only expats returning to Dubai will need to secure an entry permit from the GDRFA.

ALSO READ: ‘Instant approval’ system to return to Dubai

“My ICA application was rejected twice. The rejections came four days after I applied. Finally, I received GDRFA approval after calling the Emirates airline call centre in Pakistan,” Anjum told

He said booking or rebooking flights was easy, with airlines opening more flights between Dubai and Pakistani cities.

Anjum said he didn’t face hassles arriving in Dubai, and that his Covid-19 PCR test at the airport turned out to be negative. “But my company still asked me to go on a 7-day quarantine as a precaution,” he said.

His advice to expats still waiting to return to the UAE? “Keep yourself updated with the latest news and read daily. No need to panic. Meanwhile, keep yourself healthy by eating the right food and boosting your immunity with Vitamin C-rich food. Stay focused, positive and always aim for your goal,” Anjum said. ICA/Expat Media

Step-by-step guide from Pakistan to Dubai

Anjum shares his step-by-step guide to returning to the emirates

1. Secure GDRFA approval if travelling to Dubai

2. If flying through Emirates airline to Dubai, you can contact the Emirates Call Centre to apply for your GDRFA approval. You need to give the following information:

– Visa number
– Email address
– Contact number in Pakistan
– Date of arrival in Pakistan
– Purpose of visit

3. Once GDRFA approval is received, book your airline ticket

4. Go for Covid-19 testing at an accredited laboratory no more than 72 hours before your flight.
Required documents at lab:

– Flight ticket copy
– Passport copy

5. If you have a negative test result, you can travel back to the UAE. If you test positive, you need to wait for 7 to 14 days to redo the test. You also need to rebook your flight.

6. Show up at the airport 4 hours before your scheduled flight

7. Before boarding at the airport, you need to show the following documents:

– Two copies of GDRFA approval
– Covid-19 test result
– Flight ticket

Arriving in Dubai

1. Upon arriving in Dubai, you will be given a Health Declaration Form to sign.

2. Download the Covid-19 DXB smart app.

3. Present the following documents for checking:

– Passport
– Emirates ID
– Boarding ticket

2. You will be given a plastic pack with a test tube for your PCR test.

3. Pass through the Immigration Desk and present your passport and Emirates ID.

4. Collect your luggage.

4. Fall in line for the PCR test. The test is free of cost.

5. Wait for your test result and follow further instructions. Test results will be provided within 12 hours via SMS.

Breakdown of expenses for return to Dubai

Anjum shared a breakdown of his expenses to return to Dubai

Airfare: 29,000 rupees (Dh600)
Covid-19 test: 7,510 rupees (Dh180)
Total: Dh780

List of accredited laboratory testing centres for Covid-19 in Pakistan

Abbottabad: Excel Labs Abbottabad, Abbottabad AB City General Hospital Gate 1 Small industrial chowk Mansehra

Attock: Islamabad Diagnostic Center Attock, Kamra Road, Opposite Asfandyar Bukhari Hospital, Attock

Bahawalpur: Excel Labs Bahawalpur, opposite BVH Near Mini park, Circular Road, Bahawalpur

Chakwal: Islamabad Diagnostic Center Chakwal, Pindi Road, House – 358 Block 4 Gulberg Town Street -1 Chakwal

DG Khan: Excel Labs D.G.Khan, Shop No. 42, Block 18, Balkh Sarwar City Market, Opp DHQ Hospital Gate no. 1

DI Khan: Excel Labs D.I.Khan, Jinnah Medical center near Hayat Medical center DHQ teaching Hospital Road DI Khan

Faisalabad: Excel Labs Faisalabad, 339B near Doctor Plaza, Satyana Road Faisalabad

Islamabad Diagnostic Center Faislabad, 563 B Satayana Rd, Peoples Colony No 1, Faisalabad, Punjab

Islamabad: Excel Labs Islamabad, Shop no 19, Executive Center, G-8 Markaz

Chughtai Lab Blue Area Center, Shop 05, 106 – West Royal Centre, Fazal-e-Haq Road, Blue Area

Islamabad Diagnostic Center G-8 Branch – Islamabad, Pakland Square, G-8 Markaz Islamabad

Islamabad Diagnostic Center PWD, Opposite Doctors Colony, Main PWD Road, Police Foundation Islamabad

Jehlum: Islamabad Diagnostic Center Jehlum, Jada Road, Opposite DHQ Hospital Jehulm

Karachi: Indus Hospital Shahrah Faisal Collection point 245/M/2 Block 6 PECHS Shahrah-e-Faisal Karachi 75400

Chughtai Lab Shaheed-e-Millat Center, Al-Khalij Tower Main Shaheed-e-Millat Road Bihar Muslim cop. Housing Society

Chughtai Lab Malir Center, Shop No 6 Darakhshan Society Malir Township Colony

Chughtai Lab FB Area Center, Abbas Square Ground Floor Plot P12/B ST-7/B Block-7 F.B Area

Chughtai Lab DHA Center, Shop 04 Floor Lane 4 Sehar Commercial Phase 7 DHA

Chughtai Lab Gulistan-e-Johar Center, Shop S-10 Ground Floor Usman garden Gulistan-e-Johar Block13

Kohat: Excel Labs Kohat, Near Kachery Chowk, Opp Company Bagh, Hangu Road Kohat

Lahore: Excel Labs Lahore, Saira Memorial Hospital 1-M,Civic Center, Model Town

Chughtai Lab Head Office, 7 Jail Road, Main Gulberg

Chughtai Lab DHA Center, Lalak Jan Chowk, Plaza No 09 CCA Sector T Phase II, DHA

Islamabad Diagnostic Center Lahore, Evercare Hospital, Plot no 1 Block D 1 Nespak Housing Scheme, Lahore Punjab

Mardan: Excel Labs Mardan, TMA plaza shop no. G23 Shamsi Road Mardan opp. DHQ

Multan: Excel Labs Multan, Mehr Center, Nishtar Road, Multan

Nowshera: Excel Labs Nowshera, DHQ Hospital Road, Opposite Shoukat Khanum Laboratory Collection Unit

Peshawar: Excel Labs Peshawar, Mall Tower, Mall Road, Saddar, Peshawar

Alliance Healthcare HMC Branch, Shalman Market Opposite Hayatabad Medical Complex Hayatabad Peshawar

Rawalpindi: Excel Labs Rawalpindi, SHOP P-1046-2, Saidpur Road Rawalpindi

Chughtai Lab Holy Family Hospital, F-879, Family Plaza Shop 2 Opposite Gate 3 Holy Family Hospital

Islamabad Diagnostic Center Muree Road, 82 C Benazir Bhutto Rd, Chandini Chowk, B Block Satellite Town, Rawalpindi, Punjab

Islamabad Diagnostic Center Mall Road, 1 The Mall Plaza Opposite AFIC, Mall Rd, Saddar, Rawalpindi

Sialkot: Excel Labs Sialkot, Near Islam Central Hospital, Commissioner Road

Swat: Excel Labs Swat, Marghazar Road, Saidu Sharif, near Akuh Lab, Murghuzair Road, Saidu Sharif

Taxila: Islamabad Diagnostic Center Taxila, Shop no 1- 3 Rajpoot Plaza, Faisal Shaheed Road opposite Christian Hospital Taxila

Wah Cantt: Islamabad Diagnostic Center Wah Cantt, 3-Quaid Avenue Aslam Uppal Square, Lalazar Wah Cantt

ICA/Expat Media


ICA permit not needed to return to Abu Dhabi, Sharjah

Expats returning to Dubai still need GDRFA permit

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