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This was my first ever holiday outside of Europe. I was living in the UK for about 2 years at that point (I moved from Poland) when my English friends invited me to visit them in Dubai. To be honest, I didn’t even know where Dubai actually was or know anything about this country apart from what my friends told me. They were young professionals living and working there for a few years. Lots of my other British friends visited them before and they said is amazing so I was super excited to go. I booked my flight for April. I was going with my other English friend.
We flew to Dubai with Royal Brunei. It was a different world to me, especially before I only flew with Ryanair. When we got on the plane, we got offered a hot towel to refresh ourselves, drink and a little bag with all the essentials we might need during our flight.
Arriving at Dubai Airport
After 6 hours we arrived at Dubai airport. I was glad I was with my friend at the airport was so huge I would most probably get lost. We got to the passport control. My friend went through with no problem. Shortly after it was my turn to show my passport and this is where it all started…. the border official asked me about my visa. I thought it was like in Turkey, where you need to go to a little kiosk and pay £10 for permission to enter the country. I politely asked him where I can get one? He called someone over and give him my passport. I then got escorted to a different room. Bear in mind, my friend was on the other side of the passport control waiting for me. I sat patiently with many others. By that point, I didn’t really know what was going on but I wasn’t worried. I started worrying after 3 hours of not hearing anything, not having my passport and not knowing what was going on as no one would give me any information. My friend asked if she can come back to see me. They agreed. After a few hours of waiting around mixed with tiredness, I broke down into tears. The Emirati officials sat with me telling me that everything will be ok but still not giving me any substantial info about what was going on. I was very close to just asking for my passport back so I can fly back to the UK. After about 6 hours and an interview, they told me that because I wasn’t staying in a hotel I needed to apply for a visa and that might take 5-14 day! Say what?! They let me see my friend who was waiting for us at the airport. We decided that as it was evening it’s best if I stay at the airport hotel. Have some sleep and he will apply for my visa in the morning.
I booked myself into one of the airport hotels. The rooms were charged by the hour. It cost me £300 for 6 hours. By that point, I didn’t even care. All I wanted was to have a hot shower and go to sleep.
The next day in Dubai
The next morning my friend started my visa process. He lied to the officials that I was his cousin visiting him after years of not seeing each other. He even pretended to cry. Somehow after this little performance and paying a deposit of £2000, I was granted a visa. But that wasn’t the end. I had to have my fingerprints taken and my eyes scanned for security reason. My friend would get his deposit back after I left the country. Even the border security officers were surprised that I got granted my visa so quickly. One of them even came over to say goodbye to me saying ” I told you everything will be ok”
We went through passport control again. This time I went first. My friend went second. And… now they stopped her. Are you kidding me??? When they scanned her passport the warning came out that her visa was cancelled the day earlier. I was thinking not this again! But luckily they realised that her visa was cancelled because she came back to the airport to see me. I can tell you that I could not run from this airport quickly enough. Just in case they changed their mind haha
We had an amazing time in Dubai but I definitely learnt my lesson. Now, every time I go somewhere, I triple check if I need a visa. I also realised how lucky I was to have such a nice border security official helping me. Especially after reading so many stories on how easy you can get arrested in Dubai and how difficult is to leave if you have been stopped. Since then I visited Dubai a couple more times and every time I’m dreading going through passport control.
If you fancy reading more about my holiday nightmares check this out!