UK to accept vaccine passports from UAE, says transport secretary

Flight bookings between Dubai and Abu Dhabi are set to soar

The UK will accept vaccine passports from the UAE from next month, Britain’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Wednesday.

The changes come into effect on October 4 and will apply to all arrivals who have proof of receiving two doses of UK-approved Covid-19 vaccine in the UAE.

These travellers will no longer need to quarantine.

Currently, arrivals from the UAE are required to self-isolate for up to 10 days, taking PCR tests during this time.

Wednesday's announcement was welcomed by the UAE's ambassador to the UK, Mansoor Abulhoul.

He said the move would allow families to take advantage of the two countries' world-beating vaccination programmes.

“The UAE welcomes the UK’s decision to recognise UK-approved vaccines administered in the UAE through our world-class vaccination programme from 4 October, which will make it easier for Emiratis and the large British expat community living in the UAE to travel to the UK,” said Mr Abulhoul.

“The UAE is at the forefront of the global battle against COVID-19, with 81.6 per cent of the UAE population double vaccinated, and supported by our renowned national testing programme.

"Further opening up the vital trade and tourism links between the UK and the UAE will enable family and friends to reunite safely, and will allow businesses to further boost their operations," he added. "We are looking forward to continuing to work with our friends in the UK to build back better as part of the global COVID-19 recovery; today’s announcement is one more step in the direction of achieving this shared goal.”

The vaccine passport is the record of inoculations showing on the UAE's Al Hosn app. This will show if the traveller has received vaccines recognised in the UK.

Mr Shapps said the move will be an important step in opening up a travel route between the UK and the UAE, one of the world's busiest communications corridors.

He told The National in an interview on Tuesday that a “technical issue” was to blame for holding up the UAE's inclusion in an earlier vaccine passport acceptance scheme.

On Wednesday, Mr Shapps tweeted: “We will be accepting UAE vaccination certificates from 4th Oct following updates to their vaccination app.

“As a major transport hub which is home to many British expats, this is great news for reopening international travel, boosting business and reuniting families.”

Demand for flights between Dubai, Abu Dhabi and British airports are set to soar as a result of the government's changes.

Last week, the UK government announced that travellers from 17 countries who had received two vaccines would have their vaccine certificates accepted by UK authorities.

However, the UAE failed to make that list.

Mr Shapps suggested this had stemmed from the listing of a person’s date of birth on the UAE’s Covid vaccine verification app.

According to the latest data, 82.6 per cent of the UAE’s 9.7 million population have received two doses of a vaccine.

Emirates in the UAE have approved five coronavirus vaccines. These are Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and the Russian-made Sputnik V.

A woman walks in front of an Emirates Airlines plane which landed on the runway during the media tour of Dubai's new second airport, Dubai World Central or Al-Maktoum International, operational only to cargo until passenger facilities are completed, on July 1, 2010, in the desert on the outskirts of the Gulf emirate, where a 32 million dollar (26 million euro) new "city" is being built to include a port.  AFP PHOTO/KARIM SAHIB *** Local Caption ***  919076-01-08.jpg

Some 7.7 million people travelled between the UK and the UAE in 2019, before the coronavirus crisis began, according to government figures.

Mr Shapps said: “We want to get back there and beyond.”

Mr Shapps said he was looking forward to travelling to the UAE in November for his first official overseas trip since the beginning of the pandemic.

“I love the UAE. I'm looking forward to coming on the 22nd of November for Expo. The UK and the UAE are tremendous friends,” Mr Shapps said.

“We appreciate everything the UAE did, with the beginning of Covid-19 and helping with transit. And now with Afghanistan.”

Updated: November 22, 2021, 8:48 AM