UAE ambassador: UK travel announcement is 'disappointing for families'

UAE has the second-fastest vaccination rate and one of the world’s most intensive testing systems

The UAE's ambassador to Britain said he hopes that a decision by the UK not to establish new travel freedoms between the countries on Friday – when it unveiled its traffic light travel system – will be reconsidered at the "next opportunity".

The UK has a green, amber and red set of categories that govern trips abroad and the need to quarantine on return as part of its pandemic response.

The red list conditions, which impose mandatory hotel stays on British and Irish residents coming back to England and exclude all other nationals, keep families separate, said Mansoor Abulhoul, the ambassador of the UAE to the UK.

“The UAE is currently one of the safest countries in the world in relation to Covid-19," Mr Abulhoul said.

"We have the second-fastest vaccination rate, one of the world’s most intensive testing systems, and are combatting the spread of concerning variants by restricting entry from high-risk countries.

"We are disappointed by this outcome and hope the UAE’s status will be reconsidered at the next opportunity," Mr Abulhoul said.

"Summer is a key season for Emiratis and the hundreds of thousands of Britons living in the UAE to visit the UK. We hope to re-connect the families and friends separated by the pandemic, as well as resume the vital trade and tourism links between our countries.”

England unveiled the details of its traffic light system for international travel from May 17 on Friday.

Twelve countries and territories were included in the green light category, allowing for relatively free travel, but most were categorised as amber, while there is a higher restrictions red tier.

A UAE airport chief recently revealed he made “very strong representations” to the British government to discuss the country's exemplary role as an open international travel hub and how this experience can ensure safer travel between the two countries.

“There are countries on the green list that, we believe, haven’t taken the kind of care and number of measures like we have in Dubai to keep everyone safe,” Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai International Airport, said in a radio interview last week.

“We have made very strong representations to the British government about the credibility of the numbers here and the way we are handling everything."

The UAE has, alongside Britain, been a global leader in inoculation against Covid-19, with each vaccinating more than 52 per cent of its adult population. There are fewer new cases currently reported per 100,000 in the UAE than the figure in the UK on a six-day rolling average.

Mr Griffiths suggested putting together a task force as the facility was ready to “apply rigorous testing and hygiene measures that we have put in place, which are far better than a lot of other places in the world”.

Updated: May 9, 2021 11:37 AM

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