Many British residents are planning to travel home for the festive period following the easing of travel restrictions between the UK and UAE.
Christmas came early for several residents after it was announced on Thursday that people travelling from the UAE to the UK would no longer have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
The air corridor opened between the two countries despite the UK currently being in lockdown.
Like many British citizens in the UAE, Alexia Lawrence Jones, 38, welcomed the news and made plans to reunite with loved ones next month.
“I have been on tenterhooks and desperate to travel back to see my family in the UK for Christmas but I was put off by the quarantine rules,” she said.
“Having to stay indoors for the whole duration of my trip would have tainted the whole festive feel.
“I held off booking anything as I wanted to see if things changed.
"Now I’m over the moon that I can go home without worrying about the consequences of travel and self-isolation.”
Ms Lawrence-Jones, a client services director in Dubai, said she planned to book a two-week trip in mid-December.
When she browsed online on Saturday, a return flight to London Heathrow on Emirates was priced at Dh2,700.
Up until Thursday, Rebecca Morgan-Ransom, 31, said she had resigned herself to a 2020 without seeing her family in the UK. The last time she was at home was December 2019.
“My husband and I weren’t planning to go back home for Christmas at all because the main thing putting us off was having to self-isolate for 14 days," she said.
“We would not have been able to leave our family home for the whole two weeks.”
“When I heard the news about no longer having to quarantine on arrival, I went online the next day and booked my flight.
“I’m not going for Christmas but I will travel for the long National Day weekend next month.”
In all, she said her ticket cost about Dh2,500 for a direct flight to London Heathrow, which was reasonable given the recent news.
For the past few weeks, Dubai resident Paula Jacobson, 38, has been petitioning the UK government to put the UAE on its travel corridor list. In total, she amassed more than 22,000 signatures from residents in the Emirates. The beauty director said the news on Thursday was music to her ears.
“I am beyond thrilled about the news and have been receiving lots of messages from people ready to book tickets,” she said.
“I am so happy families will be reunited more quickly. I am so grateful for all the support from everyone who has got involved and signed the petition.
“A huge thank you to UK government for recognising how well the UAE has responded to Covid-19.
“The UAE has been exemplary in how well they have handled this pandemic and it is fantastic that it is being recognised for that globally.”