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VISA Stuck #1

Kuwait Towers (Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

The Kuwait Towers (Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Sitting at the Kuwait airport, with 7 hours yet to go for my flight back to India,  I’m just reflecting on how happening the last few days have been.  I should have been in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia waiting for my flight back to India. But here I am. Kind of stuck!

Let me backup a little and give some context. I was supposed to travel to Riyadh for a presentation. A very important one! Instead of a simple case of just traveling to Riyadh and getting done with the presentation,  circumstances forced me to make it little complex and adventurous.  But complex by design. Not by chance. With the amount of time I had to travel, it would have been very difficult to get a VISA for KSA. So instead,  I opted for a rather complex but a lot more certain alternative.  I decided to travel to Kuwait and get my Saudi VISA stamped in Kuwait. I won’t get into the details.  But you have to trust me that you’d have done the same, considering the options I had at hand.

I get the Kuwait VISA on time.  And I get my Saudi VISA approved. Now I just had to reach Kuwait,  submit my passport at the embassy of KSA there ( or here rather) and get the familiar sticker stamped. So far so good. I head off to take the flight to Kuwait,  the country with one of the most powerful currencies on earth (or THE most). And the build up to a series of nervous moments starts to take place. I’m told at the check-in counter that I can’t board as the airline has not received an ‘ok-to-board’ message from the VISA sponsor in Kuwait. What is that supposed to mean?  Nevertheless,  I manage to convince them that it is okay for me to board.  So they allowed me to do so at my own risk.  To my dear friends who ever travel on a social visit VISA to Kuwait, please inform your VISA sponsor (which will most likely be a hotel,  as in my case) to explicitly inform the airline in Kuwait that it is okay to board.  I don’t understand why this pain is needed.  But there must be a reason that I’m not aware of.

Alright.  So let’s reach Kuwait.  I land up there in time.  And move to a very cramped immigration area. There was hardly any space to stand.  Little did I know that in another half an hour, I’ll have the entire area for me to play football! Upon reaching in Kuwait, I was first supposed to collect the original copy of my VISA (Kuwait) and then proceed to one of the immigration counters. My apprehensions turned true when I came to know that the airport had not received the original VISA (the sponsor has to submit the original VISA at the airport). While I was trying to call the hotel to inquire about my VISA, the entire immigration area got cleared.  I was the only person there for the next hour or so.  It was due to the kind follow up of a gentleman from our partner organisation that I finally got my VISA and was able to come out of the airport.

And this was just the beginning!

Stay tuned to know what happened next.  I need to go and grab something to drink! And yes, coke is cheaper than water here 🙂

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Amit Srivastava