Trump travel ban hits expats in Oman
March 7, 2017 | 10:32 PM
by Staff Reporters
The new Executive Order issued by President Donald Trump bans people from six countries - Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Yemen and Libya - from entering the United States of America for 90 days, effective from March 16, while a 120 day ban has been imposed on Syrian refugees. Phoro-File

Muscat: Donald Trump’s new travel ban order is “stupid,” “annoying” and has left Oman residents from banned countries anxious.

The new Executive Order bans people from six countries - Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Yemen and Libya - from entering the United States of America for 90 days, effective from March 16, while a 120 day ban has been imposed on Syrian refugees.

Read here: Trump's revised travel ban targets citizens of six Muslim-majority nations

Iraq has been removed from the banned list and nationals can now travel to the USA – if they pass the necessary checks.

Also read: Iraqis in Oman welcome removal from US travel ban list

Airlines and travel agents are advising people to contact the United States embassy before travelling – or not to travel until the picture becomes clearer and they have the required documents.

Those subject to the ban – which will take effect on March 16 - voiced their concerns, citing it as illogical and disappointing.

Syrian national Bahzad Meslem, a regional sales manager at a laser manufacturing firm, now cannot attend medical conference in the USA, thanks to the ban.

“It will affect my job, definitely. I have to travel to the US twice a year to attend one of the biggest and most important global meetings in the medical sector because of the nature of my job, but it is now difficult. It doesn’t make sense to ban specific countries or religions based on the pretext that they are terrorists, unless it actually is a national security concern. You can do a background check on the person applying for a visa to the US and I believe that is how it is supposed to be.”

The US embassy in Muscat declined to comment.

Salwa, a Sudanese national living in Oman expressed her disappointment at the travel ban, “I saw the news and it’s honestly annoying. I visited the United States, now I feel disappointed and anxious at the same time.

“In my opinion this is not the time to start a segregation campaign against one religion or sector as it will result in a lose-lose situation.

“I understand that the ban is to impose tougher immigration control but it shouldn’t be done like that. It seems that our world is going back to the civil war era but with a modern agenda. Very sad indeed,” Salwa, a worker at a private clinic, said.

A Somali national living in the Sultanate deemed the decision “stupid” and “annoying”.

“It’s a stupid decision, I mean you can’t put all eggs in the same basket and ban people from entire nations to your country,” said the Somali national.

“Honestly this makes no difference to me and I am not upset because people from our country are already banned from many nations across the world and this really doesn’t make a huge difference.

“I do have relatives in the United States, but they migrated a long time ago. I am not sure if they can travel at this time, but let’s see what Trump is trying to achieve from this,” she added.

Noora, a Syrian national living in Oman, said: “To ban people from all these countries is actually going to do the United States no good. Plus this creates so many troubles for people from all these countries all over the world. Those living in the States might not be able to visit their families living in different parts of the world and vice versa.

“Judging people based on their nationalities and creating unwanted differences is just dividing the world even more. Syria is in a horrible situation right now and you want to ban Syrians for something that is not even our fault. Come and help us in our country, but you will not do that.”

The ban, however, does not include those with a Green Card nor does it include people with dual citizenship, diplomatic or diplomatic-type passport holders as well as those previously granted asylum into the US.

Airlines and travel agencies advised those wishing to travel to the US to consult the US embassy to establish whether or not they are eligible to travel.

“Emirates is aware of the new travel guidance issued by the U.S. government resulting from the executive order signed on 6 March 2017. This would be effective on 16 March 2017. With regards to entry requirements for travel to the USA, Emirates will comply with the guidance provided to us by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.” - Emirates spokesperson.

In a statement Etihad Airways said, “We strongly encourage all guests who are nationals of these countries to consult with their nearest United States embassy or consulate to ensure that they are legally entitled to enter the United States, particularly as the United States entry requirements are subject to change and may be subject to further interpretation by United States administrative agencies and courts.

“Our global customer contact centre will make all efforts to provide up-to-date information to guests and ensure that assistance is provided when necessary. However, it is the responsibility of guests traveling on Etihad Airways to ensure that they have the proper travel documents and visas necessary for entry into their final destination,” the airline added.

Riyaz Kuttery, Chief Operating Officer of Mezoon Travel, said: “These nationalities should double check with the US embassies and consulates before they make any travel to US Embassies and consulates in the region.”

Another travel agent from a Muscat based office advised against travelling for the time being until people can get “a clearer picture”.

“If there are people from these banned countries who wish to travel to the US, I advise them to wait until everything clears up,” he added.

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