x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Saudi Arabia grants visa to fear-of-flying boy

Fear-of-flying schoolboy Joe Thompson and his dad Tony have been issued with the Saudi visas they need to travel home.

DUBAI // Fear-of-flying schoolboy Joe Thompson and his dad Tony have been issued with the Saudi visas they need to travel home.

The Saudi embassy in Abu Dhabi opened specially at 10pm on Thursday night to hand over the documents. While in the kingdom, the Thompsons will be the personal guests of the Saudi ambassador to the UK, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz.

"I've got the all-important visas for a land crossing over Saudi Arabia," Mr Thompson said. "I'm confident we'll be out of here, hopefully, within the next week or two. Joe is really pleased."

Joe, 11, whose family is moving back home to the UK after living in Al Ain for several years, has been stranded in the UAE for more than a month after developing a fear of flying. Previous attempts to obtain Saudi travel documents failed.

The visas allow the pair to enter Saudi Arabia any time within the next month and remain in the country for seven days.

Volkswagen Middle East has offered to provide cars and drivers to take the Thompsons home and is working out a route.

"They're looking at the cars, the drivers, the documentation - there's quite a bit of detail to be worked out," Mr Thompson said. "Hopefully this week we'll have a clear picture of when we're going and which way we're going to go."