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Residents of any UAE emirate and holders of “all types” of visas including residence and employment documents from India, are now permitted to fly to Dubai, airlines have confirmed.
Authorities this week confirmed that travellers from any country can apply for a visit visa for the Emirates, provided they are fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved shot.
Until now, only residents were permitted to return to the UAE from those countries and they had to be vaccinated in the Emirates to qualify.
Dubai, which sets its own immigration and coronavirus rules, does not require residents to be vaccinated to return.
In a letter addressed to travel agents across the UAE on Monday, Air India confirmed any visa holder can now obtain permission to travel to Dubai.
“Holders [of] all type of visa and/or entry permission granted by the appropriate authority in the United Arab Emirates (i.e. employment visa, short stay/long stay visa, visit visa, residence visa, newly issued etc) are permitted to travel to Dubai, effective from Monday, August 30 at 0001hrs,” it said.
Residents must first obtain approval from either the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) or General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs before they are permitted to travel.
The rule does not apply to tourists, said the airline.
Emirates airline confirmed UAE residents with visas issued in any emirate can also now land in Dubai.
"As per the current update, all UAE residents, newly issued residence or employment visas, short stay/long-stay visa, visit visa, visa on arrival will be accepted for travel to Dubai. Passengers travelling with a UAE Resident visa must have GDRFA or ICA approval," a customer service representative replied in a tweet to a query from a customer.
All those travelling to the UAE from previously banned countries should present a negative Covid-19 test certificate issued within 48 hours before their flight.
They must also take a rapid PCR test at the airport within six hours of departure.
Dubai Civil Aviation Authorities issued these re-entry guidelines to all airlines for all visas effective from August 30.
Residents welcomed the news that tourist visas will once again be open to travellers from the 14 countries, and said the move would help reunite families who have been separated since travel was first restricted in April.
Febin Sillumon aims to book his parents on the first flight to Dubai from Kochi, Kerala to help care for his 1-year-old son Abram.
He usually has his parents or mother-in-law visiting through the year and prefers to leave the child with family instead of a babysitter.
“We heard the good news that visas have opened so on the first flight we will try to get my parents to Dubai,” the 30 year old said.
“We have an urgent requirement for them to help take care of our baby.”
His wife works as a nurse and took time off to look after the child when her mother left for India last month.
Abram started day care for the first time on Monday and Mr Sillumon was anxious after receiving phone calls that the child would not stop crying.
“We have never left him with a babysitter before. There is always family at home. He has stranger anxiety and when I hear that he is crying, it is very tough,” he said.
Others are hopeful the announcement will open the doors for wives and children to join them in the Emirates.
“This is not just for tourists but new resident visa holders. There are many who have recently got jobs or who have sponsored their families so the husband has got residency and is waiting for his wife and kids to come to the UAE,” said Godly Babukutty, an agent at Epic Travel in Dubai.
"It will mean a lot to these families."
Gaurav Sinha, chief executive and chief strategist at Insignia Worldwide, a destination design, strategy and placemaking consultancy based in the UAE, said the pandemic has “played havoc” with the global tourism and hospitality sectors and the uncertainty and sudden changes in rules has crippled the industry.
“Dubai’s recent announcement to welcome any and all tourists is a bold and positive move as it brings coherence and clarity to this situation,” he said.
“Dubai has made strides ever since the pandemic started, with a forward-facing perspective on preventative measures.
"It’s also a tribute to the civic duty and law-abiding residents of Dubai who are complying with the rules and regulations.."
The UAE temporarily halted passenger flights this year from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Liberia, Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Congo over concerns about coronavirus cases and variants of the virus.
Airlines have been asked to make sure the required tests have been done and not permit passengers who do not meet the criteria to board.
Should airlines transport passengers who do not meet the guidelines, the company will be held responsible and will have to return the traveller to the country of original departure.