British expats choose to stay in UAE for Christmas as family fly over instead

UK students with family in the Emirates say the travel corridor, which suspends the need for quarantine in Britain, is a big draw

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Christmas came early for many British residents of the UAE after it was announced that those arriving in the UK from the Emirates would no longer have to quarantine.

But because of the high number of Covid-19 cases in the UK, many British families living here have decided to stay in the Emirates for the holidays and have their relatives visit them instead.

That way, they say, they are still able to get together, with a lower risk of catching the virus – and their visitors will receive a welcome dose of winter sunshine to boot.

Those planning to travel to the Emirates include students enrolled at UK universities, who will join their parents and siblings living here on an extended trip, taking advantage of the quarantine-free return to the UK.

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It would have been quite a struggle coming back and having to quarantine for two weeks in the last few months of my course

Alix Lockie, 23, who is studying computer arts at Abertay University in Dundee, is one of them.

It will be her second trip to the UAE during the pandemic, having first travelled over in July when Dubai opened to tourists.

“I had to quarantine for two weeks once I got back to the UK,” she said.

But the removal of mandatory quarantine in the UK will make her life easier this time around, she said.

“Being able to go home and see my family for Christmas is really important.

“It would have been quite a struggle coming back and having to quarantine for two weeks in the last few months of my course.”

Ms Lockie's lectures are all being held online but, as a final-year student, she can meet her tutors in person for one-on-one feedback.

UK university student Alix Lockie said she is looking forward to spending time with her family in Dubai thanks to the removal of the 14-day quarantine on arrival in the UK for travellers from the UAE. Courtesy: Alix Lockie

“I wouldn’t have been able to do that for the first two weeks if I had to quarantine,” she said.

She hopes to travel to the UAE on December 11 to join her parents and two of her sisters.

“Because I am on an arts-based course, doing that over video would have been a lot more difficult. You can’t really show everything the way you would have been able to show it before.”

Chris Haines’ 19-year-old daughter, a student at Leeds University, has already arrived in the Emirates.

She flew over in early November to be with her family to escape the UK’s weather and Covid-19 restrictions.

“She was depressed and upset,” said Mr Haines, a British citizen who lives in Dubai.

“The reality of being locked in the house back there and not being able to go out and it’s grey, raining and dark. So I said for the sake of £400 ($534), why not come out here?

“Her course was online anyway. Most of the UK unis are at least until February I think,” said Mr Haines, who took part in a discussion on the topic on the British Expats Dubai Facebook page.

She plans to return to the UK on January 11, he said.

Charlotte Drury, 18, studies at the London School of Economics.

She plans to fly out to be with her family next month and has already had the virus, having developed symptoms during her sixth week at university.

The experience was “horrendous,” she said.

“I was ill for 10 days. I felt bad. I think I was unlucky. A lot of my friends got it too but they either weren’t sick at all or didn’t have really bad symptoms. It was bad,” Ms Drury said.

“I had shortness of breath and mainly nausea, which is quite an uncommon symptom.”

She said she was looking forward to seeing her family in Dubai next month. The quarantine-free return means she will be able to spend even longer with them.

“I still obviously would have come home, even if I had to quarantine at both ends I would have come home. I would miss Dubai’s warm weather if I stayed in the UK.”

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