Crossing the Border to UAEFebruary 2, 2021 in Saudi Arabia ⋅ ☁️ 4 °C
I was at Al Uquair beach when we received the message the borders are open again and I had to leave Saudi as the visa had long expired. After getting the PCR test done in Al Khobar/Dammam we left Al Uquair separately in the morning. As I drove down the road along to coast, the traffic got scarcer and scarcer, a sign told me the road would end soon. Well, that’s no news with a highway, the map indicated a road…, the four-laned highway turned into a two-laned road, which after a while turned into a one-laned road, which lead into a track and then I was in the middle of a road-building project, driving in between excavators, huge trucks and anything else that is needed to construct a highway. I quickly turned off the safety advisor voice in my head, telling me I cannot possibly think, I could drive through there, and continued on, asking construction workers for the way, if there was a choice of more than one track. I tried to get in touch with the Boeggers, who had warned me about this mud bit, but hadn’t heard from them since. And somewhat muddy it got, and slippery, but not so bad that it would justify a warning I thought. After a while, following my GPS I found out through this maze of construction tracks. This was another occasion, where a 80km track turns out to take several hours to complete.
But no trace of my friends. I left them a message that I had made it to the road and sent them my location and then I just waited for them. And I waited and waited. It was already getting late when they finally arrived. Totally exhausted. They had gotten lost in the maze of construction tracks, gotten stuck in deep mud, where they only could be rescued by some excavation machine, then in deep and soft sand…. But in the end, they made it. I was very relieved that we hadn’t travelled in convoy.
We arrived at the border at 1900hrs. I would normally avoid border crossings during the night at any cost, but we ran the risk of the border closing again, so we decided to pass.
And at the Saudi custom’s gate already a problem: the number plate of Boeger’s car was not recognized and it took about ½ hour to get to the bottom of the issue. I passed this one without a hitch.
Next stop passport control: Oh, the visa has expired nine months ago? We explain the issue, that due to corona the borders were closed and our visas extended without any formal documentation. I showed the conversations we had via email with “Visit Saudi”, the department for tourism. The friendly Customs Officer (CO in the following) tried to find information about our situation, without success. By now it was 2100hrs and nobody knew what to do. Finally, I had the far-fetched idea to call that Officer at “Visit Saudi”, knowing by now, Saudis work the strangest hours, and low and behold, somebody answered the phone. I don’t know what they discussed, we just waited and waited and 2 hours later we heard the chuck-a-chuck of six stamps and we were ready to go.
Getting to the arrival gate on the UAE side we were greeted by a huge queue of truck drivers waiting in line to get the arrival stamp. After queuing a short time with all the kids in tow, a CO approaches us and takes us into a special office, where we were processed quite quickly.
Off we went, to the customs gate. Knowing that the Emirates charge a fortune for the import of dogs, €400, I wanted to smuggle him in unseen. I had given Rexelby some sleeping pills, and hid him under a blanket on my bed. The customs officers were checking my paperwork, and the VIN number, which is under the dog’s front seat. Everything fine here I thought when one of the COs wanted to look into the van. He checks it quickly but then unfortunately lifts the blanket I had covered Rex with. Bugger!!! No stamp for me! I have to go to the veterinary.
Still in Saudi, I went to get a document completed, as required for entry into UAE. The officer there had told me he wouldn’t know the form I had downloaded from the appropriate UAE internet site, but told me, they would issue me with one they normally use for this purpose.
So, after a 10min criss-crossing the Border area, the vet at the UAE side told me, this document was not valid and made me complete another online form, which I now have to get signed off by a Saudi Veterinarian. On the Saudi side. In the middle of the night? I was sure, he had gone home by now? No! He just had a falcon coming through his office, just signed off by the Saudi Vet. I have to go there!
So back I go, to the customs guys. Telling them, I had to go back to Saudi, to get the form signed off. Oh no, I need a letter from the vet, confirming I had to pass. So, all the way back to the Vet, who issues me with a small handwritten note. On the way back, I think this whole thing turns out to be ridiculous; a solution has to be found.
At the customs area, the main customs guy is awaiting me with 3 other officers. They ask me again, why I need to get across, and I tell them, to get the documents for my dog checked. “And all of that, even though I don’t have a dog” but they had seen a dog before!? “no, you must be mistaken. Take a look by yourselves!” I open the door and show Rex to them, who is still sleeping. “Do you see a dog n here?” I ask them. “No, I don’t see a dog!” the three officers say. The Main CO says: “but I see a dog! You have to get your form signed of.” grrrhhhh “Any signature will do?” “Yes, just come back with a signature.”
So off I go. Again, to the passport officer, past all the waiting Pakistanis, then into the Saudi side. Here I am stopped by another officer who saw me passing a few hours back and of course wonders, what I was doing there again. I show him the Vet’s paper, but of course, he does not recognize a paper like this. He has to ring a superior about what to do with me. After 10 minutes he lets me pass.
Finally, I get to the Saudi border. What do I want? I need to see the vet. He makes me sit in the waiting room. After an hour I go to see him again, asking what the problem was. He cannot find a Vet. Please sit down and wait. Another hour goes by. No Veterinarian.
On the other side of the office, I see a long queue of people getting documents stamped. Didn’t the CO say, any stamp will do? Now I line up, my document in hand. When it is my turn, I ask him to put a stamp on the document. No! he cannot do that! I explain my situation, but still, it is a No. In my desperation I make him an offer: He goes to the loo, leaves the stamp sitting on his desk, and when he comes back, the deed will be done, he doesn’t know anything, he has never seen me. He must have thought there was less risk involved in putting the stamp on my doc than being accused to leave the stamp unattended, open for misuse, but which way ever, he set the stamp on my document.
With my stamped document in hand, I drive back to the UAE, past the waiting Pakistanis I get another entry stamp into my passport, and make my way to the CO. Triumphantly I show him my document. He studies it, and says, he has never seen a stamp like this before. Where did I get this from? I just shrug my shoulders, don’t know? But you told me to just get the document stamped…. No, you still have to go back to the vet.
So back into the car, I drive around the customs building and back to the Vet. But just there, where I would have needed to turn left to get to the vet, there was a sign saying, EXIT. So, thinking “Bugger that!!” I swung my steering wheel around and drove towards the exit. There was another stop, for the insurance. I did all the official stuff and was just about to pay when I felt somebody tapping my shoulder, and a very gentle voice saying: “The Veterinarian is the other way! Let me guide you there!” on the way to the vet, the under CO profusely apologized, he was ordered by his superior, to catch me; he knew, that I was trying to get through the border for 6 hours now, he was so sorry for the inconvenience.
The ordeal was not finished as yet, another 1 hour at the vet. He of course did not recognize the stamp. Where did I get THIS stamp from? Who has given me the stamp? I don’t know, he did not tell me the name. The nice CO: just give her the stamp…. But no, he needed to do it all properly inclusive the 400€. But finally, eventually, I made it.
All in all, it took me 11hours to get from one side of the border to the other. At 7 am I was through. Totally exhausted I just stopped somewhere and fell asleep.
The border closed again, later that day. We just had made it through.Read more