High air fares have forced several expatriate workers, including Indians, wanting to leave the UAE under an amnesty announced by the government, to take the risky sea route by traveling in boats.
Crew members of 'dhows', which are berthed along the Dubai and Sharjah creek, said eight to 10 labourers, mostly from India and Pakistan, come to them every day asking if they can take them to their home countries.
While some labourers have offered to perform chores on board in return for home passage, others are ready to pay Dh200 to Dh300, the
Indian carriers like Air India and Indian (Airlines) have announced special fares for the amnesty seekers. Tickets are available at a minimum of Dh500 (Rs 5,496).
Amnesty seekers who have got outpasses, cannot sail by dhow on their own since it is illegal. Their names will not be on the dhow's manifest and they could be presumed missing if they cannot be traced in the UAE, said the daily.
Raju Adiyacha, who hails from Gujarat's Kutch and works as a boatman on the Buhaira corniche in Sharjah, said: "A common question asked is how many days it takes to sail to India and Pakistan on a dhow."
An Iranian sailor who could speak broken Hindi, said: "I feel sad about their desperation. Who doesn't want to save money? Taking a risk to travel illegally by sea is not an intelligent thing to do. It is impossible to sneak anyone on board as there is very strict vigilance on dhows in every port, be it the UAE or elsewhere."
Meanwhile, the Indian Consulate in Dubai has received 25,000 applications for Emergency Certificates. It has printed 12,150 certificates.
Out of the 32,000 passports it received from the immigration authorities, about 10,000 have been distributed to Indian nationals.