I often have dreams that I miss a flight. It usually involves me running toward the airport.
“I’ll get one of arrival,” I said
He looked at his computer, and replied that Canada wasn’t one of the countries listed that could get a visa on arrival, and he wouldn’t be able to check me in for the flight unless I had a visa. Even though I remember reading online somewhere that I could get a visa on arrival, my heart dropped to the floor. My schedule couldn’t afford to be stuck in Hong Kong. Besides, Kenya Airways only operated to Hong Kong three times a week, so even if I could get a visa the next day, I’d still have to wait for the next flight in a few days’ time. Was that dream coming true?
I pulled out my phone and scrolled through the Internet trying to find anything that could bolster my case. I found a news article that reported that Canada and the UAE had patched up their diplomatic spat, and the UAE agreed to lift their visa restriction on Canadian citizens. The news piece didn’t matter much to the check-in agent, because he could only approve what his list said.
Then the airline’s station manager arrived, and with me still on the Internet, he started making calls on my behalf. By now, an hour had passed and the flight was scheduled to leave in an hour. It was like staring at an hour glass. Time was running out.
How could this be? I was sure I’d read that I could get a visa on arrival. Knowing that I would only be in Dubai just long enough for an overnight stay, I typed into my phone…Dubai transit visa on arrival. Reading the screen was like winning a game of bingo. I held up the screen of my phone, like I would have a bingo card, and told the agent that I could get a transit visa on arrival. He looked at the information on my phone then went back to his computer. I gave him my onward flight details and he gave me a boarding pass.
After a flight lasting more than eight hours, I arrived bleary eyed in Dubai at two o’clock in the morning. I was told I needed to go the Marhaba desk to obtain a transit visa. Ignored for a short time, a woman finally asked me what I needed. I told her that I would only be in Dubai for less than nine hours, as I had a flight to Qatar leaving at 1100, and I needed a transit visa.
“Go to the immigration office,” she said pointing to a door a short distance away.
I walked into a large room, where about seven young guys were seated, all wearing a Thawb, the long, white, traditional Arab garment worn my men.
“What do you want?” one asked without getting out of his chair.
“Who’s making all the money?” I questioned.
“We are,” they both responded smugly.
The woman looked at me and said, “You have a choice. You can either pay and get a visa or you can stay in the airport.”
|An expensive stamp|
It was now three in the morning, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I handed over my credit card. Once at my hotel, I put my head on the pillow at 4:00 am, having just set my phone to wake me four hours later.