Abu Dhabi has significantly expanded its Green List, with the addition of 13 new countries that residents can travel to without having to quarantine upon their return. The Green List, which was updated on Tuesday, now features 35 countries, with the addition of Albania, Armenia, Belgium, Canada, France, Hungary, Jordan, the Netherlands, Ireland, Romania, Seychelles, Turkmenistan and the Vatican City.
But which countries can UAE travellers actually visit?
One of the last unexplored corners of Europe, Albania offers a dynamic capital city, a rugged coastline and its own Alps.
Founded in 1614, the Albanian capital of Tirana is home to countless museums, galleries and historical attractions, including the Et`hem Bey Mosque and the Kulla e Sahatit, or Watch Tower. The Albanian Alps, also evocatively known as the Accursed Mountains, are home to the national parks of Thethi, Valbona and the region of Kelmendi, and offer stunning hiking opportunities amid deep green valleys, dense forests and picturesque villages.
Albania has been receiving foreign visitors since June 2020, with no entry requirements. A PCR test is not needed to enter the country.
However, the government has implemented a curfew, restricting movement throughout the country between 12 midnight and 6am. Nightclubs are currently closed, and bars and restaurants must observe the curfew. Masks must be worn indoors and outdoors, and gatherings of more than 10 people are banned.
Flydubai currently flies to the Tirana, with a flying time of five hours and 25 minutes. Economy class tickets cost from Dh2,005
Armenia is welcoming visitors, as long as they can provide a negative PCR test certificate taken within 72 hours of arrival, or a vaccination certificate proving they have received their second dose at least 14 days prior to travel.
A mountainous country in the South Caucasus, Armenia is home to plenty of dramatic scenery – from rolling valleys, extinct volcanoes, desert landscapes and alpine meadows, to rapid rivers and Lake Sevan, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Eurasia.
Adventure seekers can take part in canyoning and caving, while culture buffs can spend their days exploring the country’s capital, Yerevan, which is considered to be one of the oldest constantly inhabited cities in the world. It packs in more than 2,800 years worth of history, from the ancient Erebuni Fortress, built in 782 BC, and the famed Republic Square, home to the History Museum of Armenia and the National Art Gallery, to its striking Soviet-era architecture. A stroll around the city will also serve up the Opera House, Vernissage flea market and Cascade, a colossal structure made of 572 stairs constructed from ivory-coloured stone.
Economy tickets with flydubai start from Dh1,080. Flying time is three hours and 10 minutes. Etihad also flies direct to Yerevan.
From Paris's famed shopping avenues to the laid-back resorts of the Cote d'Azur, France’s many attractions have long been popular with UAE travellers. But only those that are vaccinated will be able to enjoy them this summer.
France has introduced a traffic light system that divides countries into three tiers, with different rules for vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers in each of these categories. The UAE falls into the orange category, so vaccinated travellers are welcome, but will also need to show proof of a negative PCR test. Those who are not vaccinated cannot travel to France for leisure; they must have an essential reason to visit and will face seven days home quarantine, plus testing requirements. The country currently only recognises the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
France is also in the process of tightening restrictions as it attempts to curb a spike in Covid-19 cases. As such, from August, anyone wanting to go out to eat or drink, visit a shopping centre, attend a festival, explore a museum, or go to the theatre or cinema, must show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test before they are allowed entry.
Emirates flies daily to Paris, and has also launched flights to Nice and Lyon. From Abu Dhabi, travellers can fly non-stop to Paris with Etihad, with economy fares starting from Dh2,015 for the seven-hour flight
Whether you want to spend your days floating in the Dead Sea, exploring the 2000-year-old Nabataean city of Petra or the Greco-Roman ruins of Jerash, or scuba diving in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba, Jordan has plenty to offer and is only a three-hour flight from the UAE.
The country is open to fully vaccinated visitors from the UAE, while non-vaccinated travellers must present a negative PCR test, taken within 72 hours of departure. A second PCR test is mandatory upon arrival, and all visitors must fill in a Health Declaration and Locator Form, and hold valid health insurance.
Etihad flies to Amman daily, with economy fares starting at Dh1,050 for the three-and-a-half hour flight. Return economy class flights with Emirates start from Dh1,975
Amsterdam’s tree-lined canals, walkable streets and street-side cafes will be calling out to many UAE travellers looking to escape to Europe this summer. However, the UAE is categorised as high risk by authorities, meaning visitors must show either proof of vaccination or proof of recovery to enter the country.
The Netherlands recognises the Sinopharm, Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. Visitors must also fill in a health declaration form and are “strongly advised” but not forced to self‑quarantine for 10 days upon arriving in the country. This requirement applies even if visitors have been vaccinated.
The Netherlands reimposed work-from-home guidelines yesterday, only weeks after lifting them, due to soaring Covid-19 infections. Most lockdown measures were lifted on June 26, but restrictions on bars, restaurants and nightclubs were quickly reintroduced, so it is possible new rules will come into play over the coming weeks.
Emirates is flying to Amsterdam four times per week, with return economy class tickets starting at Dh2,595. Flying time is just over seven hours
Seychelles opened its borders to international visitors on March 25, and has since established a travel corridor with the UAE that allows vaccinated travellers to enter the country with no quarantine requirements. Non-vaccinated visitors must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.
The Indian island nation has long been a go-to for travellers seeking a secluded stay, and a plethora of private villa resorts make it a good option for people looking to take social distancing to the nth degree.
White sandy beaches, turquoise waters, lush green surrounds and all the other hallmarks of a world-class tropical retreat are combined with one of the world's highest vaccination rates, making the archipelago a prime spot for travel during the pandemic.
It has even launched a Workcation Retreat Programme, which allows anyone with a valid passport to live and work in the tropical paradise for a maximum period of a year.
The destination is a four-and-a-half-hour flight away from the UAE. Air Seychelles launched a new weekly service between Dubai and Mahe on July 2, which will run until Saturday, July 24. Economy-class fares start from Dh1,259
UAE residents wanting to visit the Vatican City can travel to Rome on special Emirates Covid-tested flights. At check-in, passengers must present a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 48 hours of departure. All passengers must fill in a digital passenger locator form and must pre-register for a rapid swab test on arrival in Italy.
The museums at Vatican City, home to art and artefacts gathered by the popes over the centuries, reopened to visitors on May 3. Visitors can marvel at the Niccoline Chapel, the Borgia Apartment or the Sistine Chapel between 8.30am and 6.30pm from Monday to Thursday, and 8.30am to 10.30pm on Friday and Saturday. It is mandatory to book your visit in advance via the official ticket office, as access is phased at strict 30-minute intervals.
Visitors must wear a mask for the entirety of their visit and maintain a distance of one metre from others. Guided tours have been capped to a maximum of 25 people at a time.
Emirates flies to Rome four times a week, with return flights costing from Dh2,245