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Dubai is open but with some strings attached

Dubai International Airport

The government of Dubai has taken a decision to allow foreign nationals holding residency visas issued in Dubai to return to the emirate from today (Monday 22 June). It will also allow citizens and residents to travel to any foreign country starting Tuesday, June 23 provided the destination countries to agree to receive them. Furthermore, they should commit to observing precautionary measures outlined by the countries they are visiting.

The government of Dubai has introduced new air travel protocols that will facilitate international travel for UAE citizens, residents and tourists, and open Dubai to business and leisure visitors from 7 July. Under these, protocols the Government has also decided to start welcoming visitors and tourists from overseas beginning 7 July 2020.

UAE residents return

Residents holding Dubai-issued visas are permitted to return to the emirate by pre-booking flights on any airline on the condition that they obtain an approval coordinated between the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA Dubai) and the airline. Residents must fill a ‘Health Declaration Form’ before embarking on their journey to confirm they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. The airline has the right to refuse to board if passengers display any symptoms of COVID-19.

Upon arrival at Dubai airports, all residents will have to undergo a PCR test to screen them for COVID-19. Residents should register their complete details in the COVID-19 DXB smart app available online on arrival and before leaving the terminal.

Residents entering Dubai should not leave their house until they receive their COVID-19 test result. If they test positive, they will have to home isolate themselves for 14 days.

Residents sharing homes or living in high-density housing facilities will be isolated at an institutional facility if they test positive. The resident’s employer should make arrangements for the isolation facility in accordance with guidelines approved by the COVID-19 Command and Control Centre or bear the costs of a paid isolation facility provided by the government.

International tourists

International tourists travelling by air to Dubai must ensure they meet all requirements for entry to the UAE. Downloading the COVID-19 DXB app and registering their details on it are critically important since it facilitates easy coordination and communication with health authorities if they experience COVID-19 symptoms. In addition to filling the ‘Health Declaration Form’ before embarking, they should ensure they have a valid health insurance in order to enter the country. The airline has the right to refuse boarding at the airport of departure if they display any COVID-19 symptoms.

Tourists must do a PCR test with a maximum validity of four days (96 hours) ahead of the date of departure. They will be required to show proof of not being infected with the virus on arrival at Dubai airports. If they cannot provide proof, they will undergo a PCR test at the airport.

All arrivals will be subject to thermal screenings. If a traveler is suspected to have COVID-19 symptoms, Dubai airports have the right to re-test to ensure the tourist is free of the virus. It is mandatory for tourists who test positive for COVID-19 to register their details on the COVID-19 DXB app and isolate themselves at an institutional facility provided by the government for 14 days at their own expense.

All positive COVID-19 cases should strictly adhere to the measures outlined by the COVID-19 Command and Control Centre.

Passenger responsibilities 

The Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management stressed that travelers should commit to meeting their responsibilities to ensure their safety and that of others. These include:

  • All passengers must make themselves aware of the protocols and conditions specified by the Government of Dubai and destination countries before traveling and ensure they comply with them.
  • Passengers must disclose any health symptoms before traveling by filling out the ‘Health Declaration Form’ provided by the airline company.
  • UAE nationals must notify UAE embassies in the countries they are visiting if they test positive for COVID-19.
  • Tourists must ensure they have international health insurance before travelling.
  • All tourists must show that they have tested negative in a PCR test done four days (96 hours) before the departure date. If they cannot provide test results, they will be tested at Dubai airports.
  • Those who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate themselves for 14 days at their home or in an institutional facility provided by the government at their own expense.
  • Travelers must strictly follow physical distancing guidelines in accordance with measures followed at Dubai airports and use face masks at all times.
  • All passengers should stringently observe precautionary measures and monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms.

In the past weeks, Emirates has gradually expanded its network by offering services to a number of destinations. Currently, Emirates connects Dubai to 40 cities, and with the latest directives, it has the opportunity to expand its network and offer additional destinations.

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Tahir Imran Mian

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