Can I go on holiday to Dubai? 7 tips for travelling this summer as Covid rules relax

Dubai is open for tourists - and looks set to be a popular destination for Europeans

Latest: Indian airline says UAE flight ban extended until July 6

As vaccination programmes around the world start to bear fruit, Dubai tourist chiefs hope the emirate will be the beneficiary of a new travel boom.

Flight bookings from the UK to Dubai have already more than doubled for the last week of August, according to travel analyst ForwardKeys.

Holidays have got a lot more complicated thanks to Covid-19, so what do you need to remember if you're travelling to Dubai for a summer break?

The National found out.

1. Before you book your ticket to Dubai

Make sure you will be allowed into the country. Dubai is open for tourists, but travel from some countries is still restricted because they have high levels of Covid-19 or new variants of the coronavirus.

The Emirates airline website is regularly updated, so before you book it is worth checking for the last-minute changes.

At the time of writing, Emirates said all passengers who had travelled from or transited through India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the last 14 days would not be accepted for travel to Dubai, or allowed to transfer through Dubai.

Emirates has suspended flights from India until at least June 30.

Passenger services from Sao Paulo in Brazil also remain suspended until further notice.

The rules are different for UAE nationals, Golden Visa holders and members of diplomatic missions.

2. Do I need a visa?

Check whether you can get a visa on arrival in Dubai, and remember travel insurance. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Check whether you can get a visa on arrival in Dubai, and remember travel insurance. Chris Whiteoak / The National

It might have been a while since you last took a flight, so double check the validity of your travel documents, in particular if you are travelling with children.

As a visitor your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into the UAE.

If you’re transiting the UAE (and not passing through Immigration) your passport needs to have a minimum of three months validity from the date of transit.

Emirates has a useful tool you can use to check your passport requirements.

Most passport holders are eligible for a visa on arrival at no cost. However, others may need to apply for a visit visa from Dubai Immigration before travelling.

Check your status on the Visit Dubai website.

3. Covid-19 medical insurance?

Think about travel insurance as you book your ticket, so you can be sure you are covered if you fall ill in Dubai.

Airlines such as Emirates or Etihad Airways offer passengers free travel insurance that covers Covid-19 treatment, but many do not.

Global insurers such as Axa and major US providers including Cat 70 and John Hancock, have specific Covid-19 packages to cover all eventualities.

Insurance packages can be found for as little as $25 and cover tens of thousands of dollars worth of treatment.

4. Testing, testing ... PCR requirements

All passengers travelling to Dubai from any point of origin, including GCC countries, must hold a negative Covid‑19 PCR test certificate for a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.

Children aged under 12 and passengers who have a moderate or severe disability are exempt from taking a Covid‑19 PCR test.

The certificate must be a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, and it must come from either a UAE government designated laboratory, or a trusted and certified laboratory in your country of origin.

Other test certificates including antibody tests and home testing kits are not accepted in Dubai.

Travellers must bring an official, printed certificate in English or Arabic to check in. text message and digital certificates are not accepted by Emirates check-in staff.

PCR certificates in other languages are only acceptable if they can be validated at the originating station.

For passengers arriving from certain countries, the Covid‑19 PCR report must include a QR code linked to the original report for verification purposes.

These countries are Bangladesh, India, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Sudan, Lebanon, Egypt and Ethiopia.

Furthermore, passengers flying from India, Pakistan, Nigeria or Bangladesh, must get a certificate from one of the labs listed in the designated laboratories to be accepted on the flight.

4. Testing on arrival

Some passengers arriving in Dubai are required to take another Covid‑19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International airport.

These tests are free of charge, and the result is usually sent via text message to your mobile phone within 24 hours.

The list of countries can be found on the Emirates website, and includes Cyprus, Israel, the Philippines, Russia and Turkey.

If you take a test at the airport, you must remain in your hotel or residence until you receive the test result.

If the test is positive, you will be required to undergo isolation and follow the Dubai Health Authority guidelines.

You must also download the Covid – DXB Smart App, which is available on Google Play and the Apple store, free of charge.

5. Al Hosn tracing and vaccine app

Once you arrive in Dubai you are advised to download the Al Hosn app, which will warn you if you come into close contact with someone who has tested positive.

Vaccinated tourists can also use it to prove they have been inoculated in their home country.

You can do this by registering the "unified number" (UID) listed on your visa.

If you do not do this, you can still prove your vaccinated status by showing an electronic certificate on your smartphone.

Under a month-long trial which started on May 26, vaccinated tourists are allowed to attend live events like concerts and sports events, and weddings of up to 100 people in Dubai. They can also go to certain areas of bars, pubs and nightclubs.

Paper copies of vaccination certificates will not be accepted.

6. On holiday in Dubai

Nearly every hotel, restaurant and attraction is now open in Dubai, but there are still some Covid-19 restrictions designed to prevent the transmission of the virus.

Masks must be warn at all times, apart from when people are sitting down at a table to eat, or when they are undertaking strenuous exercise.

People are required to maintain physical distance of two metres from others, and there are heavy fines of Dh3,000 ($816) for those caught not wearing a mask or failing to socially distance.

The number of people who can sit at one table is 10 at restaurants and cafes, and four at shisha cafes.

Parties and weddings held in private homes are capped at 30 guests.

7. Before you leave

A PCR test is not necessarily required on departing Dubai. EPA
A PCR test is not necessarily required on departing Dubai. EPA

Passengers leaving Dubai only need to do a Covid‑19 PCR test if it is mandated by the country they are travelling to, so check the requirements carefully.

Usually, such tests have to be taken no more than 72 hours before your flight, so make sure you plan ahead.

In Dubai it is cheap and easy to book a test at an authorised laboratory, and you should receive the test results in 24 hours, but it can take longer.

Research your travel destination, as the authorities might require a certificate printed out, or for you to download a local tracing app.

Updated: June 8, 2021 01:51 PM

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