UAE explained: How tourists can enter Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Everything you need to know about the procedures to travel to the UAE

Tourists arrive at Dubai airport in the United Arab Emirates on July 8, 2020, as the country reopened its doors to international visitors in the hope of reviving its tourism industry after a nearly four-month closure. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)
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Abu Dhabi and Dubai are welcoming tourists again after suspending visas at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dubai reopened its borders to visitors in July, while Abu Dhabi and the other emirates began issuing tourist visas in late September, after a six-month hiatus.

But the procedures to enter Abu Dhabi and Dubai are different. The National explains what they are.

Flying to Dubai

The first step is to check whether a visa is required to enter the Emirates, which can be done here.

Emirates airline advises passengers to double-check the departure requirements in the country they are leaving from. That information can be checked here.

Previously, almost all tourists and residents coming to Dubai were required to have a PCR swab test in their country of origin – and show the results – before they boarded their flight.

But the rules were updated on October 26, removing the need for people from 56 countries to take Covid-19 tests before they fly.

However, dozens more still require “double testing”, meaning they need to show a negative Covid on check-in, and then be screened again on arrival in the emirate, quarantining in hotels or homes until the results are ready.

Tests must be a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests. Results from antibody tests and home testing kits will not be accepted.

All those required to take a test must present an official, printed certificate in English or Arabic, at the time of check-in. SMS and digital certificates will not be accepted on the flight.

The test result must be negative to board.

Those transiting through Dubai may not have to take a PCR test before they fly, unless the final destination requires it.

Tourists arrive at Dubai airport in the United Arab Emirates on July 8, 2020, as the country reopened its doors to international visitors in the hope of reviving its tourism industry after a nearly four-month closure. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)
Passengers arriving in the UAE are required to meet visit visa entry requirements. AFP

The UAE issued a list of approved laboratories where travellers can be tested. Passengers can also visit another lab that is trusted or certified in the country of origin.

Visitors flying from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh must, however, be tested by one of the UAE's approved labs, which can be found here.

All travellers must complete a health declaration form at check-in. It can be found here.

If Dubai is their final destination, passengers will be asked to complete a quarantine undertaking form, which will be handed out on the plane. It must be handed to Dubai Health Authority staff on arrival.

Dubai does not require passengers to quarantine in the emirate if they tested negative for Covid-19.

Children under the age of 12 and passengers who have a moderate or severe disability are exempt from taking Covid-19 tests.

Certain passengers, depending on where they are flying from, may be required to take a test on arrival.

Anyone who takes a PCR test on arrival must remain at the hotel or residence they are staying at until they receive the result. If it is positive, they will be required to isolate, according to Dubai Health Authority guidelines.

Visitors must also download the Covid19 – DXB Smart App.

What is it like to quarantine in Abu Dhabi with a wristband?

What is it like to quarantine in Abu Dhabi with a wristband?

Tourists travelling to Abu Dhabi from Dubai

Tourists must quarantine for 14 days in Abu Dhabi. The quarantine period is monitored using a wristband.

However, the time spent in quarantine, and consequently wearing the wristband, is reduced by the number of days the tourist has been in the UAE already.

This means if a tourist landed in Dubai six days earlier, they will only have to quarantine for eight days in Abu Dhabi.

Anyone arriving in Dubai who travels directly to Abu Dhabi must provide a negative PCR test result, which has been issued within the previous 96 hours.

They must also take a diffractive phase interferometry (DPI) test at the border, according to Emirates.

They will be fitted with a wristband at the border. A second test, taken after 12 days, is mandatory. If the result is negative, the wristband can be removed after 14 days.

Anyone who has been in the country for longer than 14 days is not required to quarantine on arrival in Abu Dhabi.

However, they must take a DPI test at the border and take a PCR test by the sixth consecutive day in Abu Dhabi if they plan to stay longer than six days. Financial penalties apply if the tests are not taken.

Tourists departing from Dubai

PCR tests are only necessary if they are mandated by the country a passenger is travelling to. Requirements can be checked at the Emirates website here.

There is a list of authorised laboratories in Dubai here.

Tourists flying directly to Abu Dhabi

Anyone flying to Abu Dhabi is required to take a PCR test before they board and must present the result at check-in.

People who have tested positive will not be permitted to board.

Everyone flying to Abu Dhabi, including children, must take another test on arrival and quarantine for 14 days in a government centre, a hotel or a person's home.

Authorities will decide the location.

If the traveller quarantines in a hotel or at home, they will be fitted with an electronic wristband to ensure they remain there. This will be carried out free of charge.

Tourists who quarantine in a hotel must not leave their room at all during the period.

A second PCR test must be taken on the 12th day at the tourist's own cost. A representative from Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre will contact them to make an appointment at an Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) centre.

If the result is negative, the wristband can be removed at a Seha centre on the 14th day.

Anyone who fails to follow the procedures will face a fine.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, July 8, 2020.   
Abu Dhabi International Airport Media Tour by Etihad.  The Etihad Check-In counter area.
Victor Besa  / The National
Section:  NA 
A traveller is directed through Abu Dhabi International Airport. Victor Besa / The National

Tourists leaving Abu Dhabi

Anyone flying out of the capital on Etihad is required to take a PCR test. This must be conducted no more than 96 hours prior to departure.

Etihad Airways tickets booked for travel between October 1 and December 31 this year include the cost of this test, with the exception of passengers travelling to China.

The tests can be conducted at Life Medical Diagnostic Centre's network of collection centres between 48 and 96 hours before departure.

First-class and business-class passengers can choose to have the test in their own home by booking through the company's website here.