26 May 2020: A Message from H.E. Ambassador Aidan Cronin
News26 May 2020
A Cháirde Gael - Irish Friends
As the Eid al-Fitr holiday draws to a close and our thoughts turn towards summer, I thought that it would be timely to update you on what the Embassy has been doing over the past while and some of our plans for the period ahead.
The Embassy continues to operate remotely with staff working from home, providing advice and assistance to Irish citizens in the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Afghanistan. I am hopeful, however, that we may be in a position to begin the process of re-opening the Embassy in the coming weeks. The health and safety of Embassy staff and of visitors to the Embassy will be of paramount importance and we will be putting strict protocols in place to ensure that the Embassy is a safe place to work and a safe place to visit.
Since I was last in touch with you, the postponement of Expo 2020 for one year has been confirmed. It was a difficult decision but it was the right decision. It is disappointing for all involved but I am convinced that it will now be an even better and more relevant Expo, a coming together of people from all over the world. One of the things we have learned from the COVID-19 experience is the importance of international cooperation and collaboration and Expo 2020 - the title remains the same - will be an opportunity to demonstrate that. Ireland remains wholly committed to Expo 2020 and we will use the extra time to make the “Ireland – Island of Inspiration” themed programme even richer and more exciting than before so that it truly will be an inspiring reflection of Ireland.
The Embassy has been delighted to partner with Middle East GAA on a series of webinars which are currently underway and addressing a range of issues such as coaching philosophies, Gaelic4Girls and Returning to Ireland, the latter in partnership with Citizens Information Board Ireland. In addition, later this week, on Thursday May 28, we will, for the first time, be hosting a Virtual Embassy session on Facebook Live, where we will answer questions submitted by Irish citizens.
One of the most frequently asked questions is whether UAE residents returning to Ireland over the summer can be guaranteed a right of re-entry when they want to come back to the UAE. While we have raised the issue with the UAE authorities, the fact is that the granting of permission to return to the UAE is at the discretion of the UAE immigration authorities. We are advising people to contact the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) with queries on returning to the UAE. The UAE authorities have established helpline numbers for those affected 02 312 8867 and 02 312 8865, and the ICA can be contacted by email on Operation@ica.gov.ae
It has been a challenging few months but, both in Ireland and here in the Gulf, the people have risen to the challenge, observing restrictions and staying at home. The last month must have been particularly challenging for those who were observing Ramadan. We all understand the centrality of this month to life and religion in this region and how important a time it is for meeting friends and family. It can’t have been easy, with mosques closed and iftars and other important gatherings curtailed, but we all hope these important traditions will return in time for next year’s Ramadan.
In the meantime, I wish you all, and your loved ones, all the very best, and stay safe.
Idir an dá linn, guím gach rath oraibh uile, agus ar do ghaolta, agus fan slán.