UAE travel restrictions: which African countries can I fly from and what are the rules?

From January 29, Emirates and flydubai are restarting flights from South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and other African destinations

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The UAE’s Covid-19 related flight restrictions for travel from 12 African countries will be lifted this weekend.

On Wednesday, the country’s Covid-19 crisis authority announced the easing of restrictions on flights from South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and eight other countries in Africa.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority also said it had updated entry procedures for flights originating from three other African countries: Ghana, Rwanda and Uganda.

Flights were suspended from several destinations in Africa following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The UAE's lifting of the ban on inbound flights from these 12 African nations means that travel will soon be open for those coming from or who have been in one of the destinations in the last 14 days.

Entry to the UAE from South Africa and six other countries was banned in November, with other nations added to the ban list in December.

Here is the latest information on the UAE's updated travel rules for destinations in Africa.

Which African countries can I fly to the UAE from?

Flight arrivals to the UAE will be able to resume from 12 African countries from Saturday.

These are Botswana, Congo Republic, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Travel from these destinations has been suspended since late last year, when authorities implemented flight suspensions owing to the new strain of Covid-19.

When can people fly into the UAE from these countries?

Travellers in Concourse A at Dubai International Airport. Photo: Dubai Airports

The new rules for flight arrivals from these African nations to the UAE will come into effect at 2.30pm on Saturday, January 29.

Travellers will not be allowed to fly into the UAE from any of these countries any earlier than this time on Saturday, and so should not book flights that are scheduled to land prior.

What are the entry rules for travellers coming to the UAE from Africa?

Travellers flying to the UAE from any of these 12 African destinations will be required to take a PCR test no more than 48 hours before departure. This must be from an approved laboratory, a list of which is available on Emirates airline's website.

Travellers arriving in Abu Dhabi from any country must take follow-up PCR tests. Pawan Singh / The National

Travellers will have to take a rapid PCR test again at their departure airport where this is available. No timeframe has been laid out by authorities for when this must be conducted yet, but it is typically within six hours of departure at other destinations requiring the same tests.

All arriving travellers will take another test on arrival in the UAE, and must self-quarantine until they receive the result. All precautionary measures in place in each emirate must be followed by all arriving passengers. Children under 12 years old are exempt from testing.

In Abu Dhabi, this means retesting on days four and eight for vaccinated travellers coming from countries not on the emirate's green list, and on day six for approved destinations. Unvaccinated travellers from green countries need to test on days six and nine, and those from other destinations must undergo home quarantine.

In Dubai, no further testing is required but travellers must follow the rules in place for social distancing and wear face masks in public.

What are the new rules for travel from Uganda, Ghana and Rwanda?

Travellers flying to the UAE from Rwanda must follow updated rules for arrival. Photo: One&Only Resorts

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority has also updated rules for those travelling from Uganda, Ghana and Rwanda. These travellers must follow the same rules in place for other African destinations, including pre-departure PCR and rapid PCR tests and an on-arrival test in the UAE.

When will flights to the UAE resume from these African destinations?

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Emirates is resuming flights to five destinations in Africa. From Saturday it will commence flights to and from Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

To South Africa, the Dubai airline will resume flights to Johannesburg from January 29, and to Cape Town and Durban from February 1. Kenya flights to Nairobi will resume January 29, with services to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe's Harare and Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania restarting January 30.

Etihad, the national airline of the UAE, is expected to announce the restart of flights to some African destinations in due course.

Low-cost airline flydubai is resuming flights to Ethiopia from Sunday, and to Tanzania and Zanzibar next month.

"Following the latest announcement from the authorities, flydubai will resume its three-times weekly service to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia from January 30. The carrier will also resume its double daily operations to Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar in Tanzania from February 16," a flydubai representative told The National.

Can I transit in Dubai or Abu Dhabi?

Transit passengers can fly to the UAE from 12 destinations in Africa from where travel was previously banned. Photo: Dubai Airports

The lifting of flight restrictions means that Dubai and Abu Dhabi will once again be open to travellers transiting in the UAE from these 12 destinations when flights resume.

Travellers must follow the rules in place for transit passengers, including taking all relevant PCR tests before flying and on-arrival tests where required. Airlines can provide more information on the most up-to-date rules for transit passengers.

Updated: January 28, 2022, 5:30 AM
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