DUBAI: For days, Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city has been rocked by violent protests that have led to the death of 164 people. The unrest’s repercussions have been far-reaching, affecting citizens that found themselves unable to return home.
One such example is a group of about 500 visitors to Ras Al Khaimah Emirate, the popular destination for tourists looking to explore breathtaking coastlines and rich, terracotta desert planes.
As violence increased, these visitors found themselves unable to return home due to disruptions to air travel between Kazakhstan and the rest of the world.
“In light of the current situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) committed to support and assist all Kazakhstan tourists that were unable to leave the Emirate last week due to airline connectivity issues in their home country,” RAKTDA said in a statement.
“The Authority provided all those without a flight home complimentary full board accommodation, inclusive of food and beverage and other amenities in their current hotel until the situation improves and travel is once more possible,” it added.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s office said on Sunday that order has stabilized in the country and that authorities have regained control of administrative buildings that were occupied by protesters, some of which were set on fire. Protests first kicked off in response to a hike in fuel prices before reflecting discontent beyond that.
Almaty’s airport, which had been taken by protesters last week, remained closed but gradually resumed operating on Monday.
“The response has been very appreciative, and we have received an outpouring of messages and letters of thanks for support during this time, although people are, of course, anxious to get home,” Kate Fox, a spokeswoman for RAKTDA, told Arab News.
As flights have resumed, visitors are now heading home, she added.
“Our thoughts go out to the people of Kazakhstan during this challenging time and we sympathize with those last week who were unable to return home. Our utmost priority is the wellbeing and safety of our valued visitors during this stressful time and we remained committed to providing support until they were able to safely travel back to the Republic.” Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said.
A Russian-led military bloc will begin withdrawing its troops from Kazakhstan in two days' time after fulfilling its main mission of stabilizing the Central Asian country after serious unrest, Tokayev said on Tuesday.