Despite Dubai opening to tourists, foreign workers remain in limbo

Dubai – Eudinson Uy and his pregnant wife planned to return to their home in the United Arab Emirates after a vacation in Armenia, but due to a subsequent lockdown of the Gulf country over the coronavirus pandemic, she ended up giving birth there.

Four months later, the Filipino couple and their baby boy are still stuck in Armenia, like thousands of others now trying to return to the UAE, which relies on a vast foreign workforce.

“I have called the UAE Embassy here in Armenia, immigration in Dubai, and all the hotlines and emergency hotlines given by the UAE, but all of them said they cannot help us even if my wife is pregnant,” Uy said.

Before the lockdown, foreign workers who had planned work trips or holidays, or to give birth near family back home, flew out of the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven emirates home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. They left behind jobs, families, homes and other responsibilities, to which they had always planned to return.

In this family photograph, Eudinson Uy, right, poses for a photograph with his wife, Allaina Pelayo, and their infant son Benjamin Timoteo, in Yerevan, Armenia.

Some members of a Facebook group for foreign workers stranded outside said they applied and got rejected over 10 times. One woman said she applied 21 times.

The rules remain particularly unclear when it comes to newborns. Many new mothers who traveled outside the Emirates to give birth found themselves unable to bring back their children. All UAE residents – including children – require a national ID number to return.

Recommended For You