Monday, September 28, 2009

Mistakes and Passports Don't Mix!

The following are the stories that both Q and I have gotten tired of repeating over the past month or so. Our mission was to get me a replacement UAE residency visa since my passport got stolen while traveling in China. Now that I typed it all up, I can see how tricky the situation was and that it would take a miracle for any UAE immigration office to understand, not to mention helping us.

The Story of Four Passports

Every single immigration counter we went - and trust me, there are many of them - we had to explain that my passports #1 and #2 were stolen in China, while holding a mint #4 backed up by a certified copy of #3.

#1: Regular Canadian passport issued in Toronto. I moved to Abu Dhabi with it in 2007, so it has my residency visa. It had to be replaced back in April this year because it ran out of blank pages for visa stamps, but I still kept it for the residency visa page.

#2: Regular Canadian passport issued in Abu Dhabi. It was a replacement for Passport #1. It had my Chinese tourist visa and was what I used to enter China.

#3: Temporary Canadian passport issued in Shanghai after #1 and #2 were stolen. It was issued and given to me in Shanghai on 26 August - ahh, what a glorious day! It also contained the replacement tourist visa for China – it was "zero entry" as I only needed it for leaving the country. This is the passport I entered UAE with.

#4: Regular Canadian passport issued in Shanghai but picked up in Abu Dhabi. I had to return #3 in order to get #4. For some odd reason, we were not allowed to keep temporary passports. I had a certified photocopy of #3 including the UAE entry stamp. It was essentially blank and this is where the replacement UAE residency visa should go. The problem is…

The Story of One Mistake

When I left China with Passport #3, I got an exit stamp of “31 August 2009”. It was all good until I entered UAE after the overnight flight. Instead of “1 Sept 2009” the stamp I got “1 August 2009”! Unfortunately I didn't notice the error until several days later when staring at a certified copy of #3.

Of course this whole thing didn’t make sense and we all thought it was obvious to the UAE Custom that they made the mistake, but I was so wrong. Essentially it appeared that I was in UAE without any paper record - in anther word, illegal.

The Story of Two Residence Visas

In order to make my Edinburgh and Italy trip, we had to pull a last-minute Mission-Impossible stunts on the day of my flight. It was pure drama and I only wish we weren't doing it. Doing one of those door-to-door car switches at highway pit stop and zooming down highway at lightening speed definitely pushed our adrenaline to a new high.

In the end we had to cancel my old residence visa on passport #1, so I could leave UAE at all. While I was in Italy, Q worked with his company to get me a new residence visa, so now #4 is on its way to be completed with a visa sticker.

As we learnt from this experience, one of the fastest ways to learn the local government culture is to lose your passport. If you don’t believe us, try it. :)

To reward those of you brave souls who reached this point of the posting, here are some photos from our trips in China, Edinburgh and Italy. Enjoy - we certainly did! And do let us know how you are doing. We miss all of our family and friends dearly. Love from Abu Dhabi!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A breath of fresh air…

…well, relatively speaking, of course :)

This morning at 6 am, when I left work after my graveyard shift, it was a very amiable 27 degrees (81 Fahrenheit for you non-metric lot). It felt like a draw of fresh air!

It means the height of the summer is over and in a few weeks temperatures should be down enough during the day to be able to venture outside without being scorched to a crisp!


The visa saga continues meanwhile. Having spent another 4 1/2 hours at the immigration department, the new resident visa is on its way and I should have it tomorrow. That means Shu would be able to enter the country legally again! The rest of the work is mostly hers, getting all the tests required for a residence visa. But we’ll do that when she’s back next week.

The two accompanying photos have been shot at Sheikh Zayed Mosque here in Abu Dhabi. I guess the last photo sums up two important aspects in Abu Dhabi life quite well, religion and commercialism…

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Shu has left the country...

That's actually a good thing! We had a lot of issues trying to replace her residence visa when she got back from China. The visa was in the passport that got stolen in Shanghai. It's not resolved yet, but the situation was such that she also couldn't leave the country without it either! We managed to resolve the issue temporarily, but we'll have to work on the rest when she gets back... I'm sure Shu will inform you later on about the whole procedure (to give you a slight hint what we've been through, so far I've spent a good 15 hours at the Immigration Department....).

She's off to attend a wedding in Edinburgh before flying to Italy to tour over there together with a friend from Toronto! This was the message she sent me yesterday:

'I found the Mound and the Prince Street Garden, and sat on the grass, and walked on the grass in zigzag. I loved and missed how nice it felt. :)'

The Princes Street Gardens

The Princes Street Gardens, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Or as a friend put it: 'having actual weather again is interesting!', when commenting on her move to The Netherlands after having lived in the Middle East for several years.

Other than that all is well. We're experiencing full on Ramadan, and will end in just over a week from now. We went to an iftar celebration in the posh Emirates Palace . The food was hidiously expensive, but also very good. Still only did it for the occasion...

Later this month, one of my best friends arrives for a few days before we set of to fly to South Africa, where we'll rent to motorbikes and tour the country for two weeks!

Let us know how you're doing!