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Abu Dhabi will lift quarantine requirements in July, and Americans can go

May 19, 2021
6 min read
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Editor's Note

This post has been updated with new information. 

Each year, more than 21 million travelers visit the seven emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In 2020, however, those numbers dropped drastically after the UAE suspended most commercial passenger flights in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Dubai reopened to international visitors in July 2020, with Abu Dhabi following suit in December for select travelers.

And now, according to news from Travel + Leisure, Abu Dhabi is preparing to allow international travelers -- including Americans -- to enter on July 1 without quarantine requirements.

Dubai on May 17 also lifted its limited-capacity rules for hotels, meaning they can be booked to 100%. Public gatherings, such as concerts and sporting events, can also take place at up to 70% capacity for vaccinated people. Mask-wearing and social distancing are still required.

Here's what you need to know if you're planning to visit Abu Dhabi or Dubai this summer.

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A panoramic view of the Dubai city skyline with the Burj Khalifa shown in the center. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. (Image by dblight/Getty Images)
A panoramic view of the Dubai city skyline with the Burj Khalifa shown in the center. (Image by dblight/Getty Images)

Entering the United Arab Emirates

The UAE began reopening its borders to international visitors in July 2020, but there are still some restrictions in place, which vary by the emirate you're visiting.

All non-resident visitors -- vaccinated or not -- must show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result returned no more than 96 hours prior to arrival. All travelers are subject to additional testing requirements, screenings and potential mandatory quarantines, depending on country of origin and vaccination status. And some travelers are also required to take a second PCR test upon arrival.

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All test results must be presented either in English or Arabic in original, physical form. Digital copies will not be accepted. Children under 12 and travelers with severe and moderate disabilities may be exempted from the test requirement.

The U.S. is currently not on the UAE's list of approved "green" countries that don't need to quarantine -- but that will change starting July 1 when other countries will be added. It's unclear, right now, what other countries will be added to the green list, but a representative for Abu Dhabi tourism told Travel + Leisure that an extended green list will cover a "majority of the markets [they] are tapping into."

If quarantine is required, accommodations are at each traveler's expense, and visitors are subject to being fitted with GPS tracking bracelets after passing through immigration at UAE airports. Violating quarantine is punishable by law and can come with fines of more than $13,000.

Related: Getting a test is easier now, but you still aren't guaranteed a result in time

American visitors to Abu Dhabi can enter by air or road, but they must adhere to stringent testing and quarantine protocols. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi will relax its quarantine policy starting July 1, which means many travelers arriving in the emirate won't be required to quarantine upon arrival.

But, until then, in addition to negative COVID-19 PCR test results that must be shown at the airport, all U.S. citizens must quarantine for 10 days upon entering Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). They must then submit to mandatory RT-PCR testing on days six and 12 from arrival. This rule applies to all foreigners arriving from non-"green" countries. Travelers will be given a wristband to wear during quarantine that will track their movements to ensure quarantine guidelines are being followed.

According to the U.S. Embassy website, Americans who enter Abu Dhabi by road via another emirate must present proof that they don't have COVID-19, dated within the past 48 hours of travel time. Non-Abu Dhabi residents who stay for four or more consecutive days must take an additional COVID-19 PCR test on the fourth day. Those staying more than eight consecutive days must also retest on the eighth day.

Citizens and residents of Abu Dhabi face less stringent testing and quarantine requirements, as do those traveling to the emirate from a "green" country. Vaccinated residents and expatriates do not need to quarantine but do need to take an RT-PCR test upon arrival.

Dubai's entry requirements for U.S. citizens are less stringent, but proof of negative PCR test results is still mandatory. (Photo by Accor.)

Dubai

The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority of the UAE (NCEMA), as well as the official website of the UAE, has stated that non-residents entering the UAE from another country must undergo a self-quarantine of 10 days. However, travelers visiting Dubai can avoid a 10-day quarantine by showing negative PCR test results at the airport.

Visitors must also Download the COVID-19 DXB app onto their phones for monitoring and complete the acknowledgment form to submit to officials upon arrival in Dubai.

Upon arrival, another PCR test can still be administered at the discretion of local officials, even if all of the criteria above are met. Tested travelers must quarantine until they receive results, and passengers who test positive must undergo mandatory quarantine for a minimum of 10 days at a hotel or self-isolated private address, with successful follow-up test results before the quarantine is complete.

After you complete your quarantine, you must continue to comply with all preventative measures from the UAE health authorities.

Related: K9 sniffer dogs may screen you for signs of coronavirus in the UAE

Masks and gloves are required in public spaces, and everyone must practice appropriate social distancing in public areas. People who violate preventative measures can be fined more than $27,000 for the most severe infractions.

Dubai's revised capacity rules

On May 17, Dubai's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management tweeted new capacity rules for events. Under the loosened mandates, concerts and sporting events can resume if everyone attending has been vaccinated.

Capacity is set at 1,500 people for indoor events and 2,500 for events happening outdoors.

Additionally, hotels are now allowed to operate at 100% capacity, and entertainment venues are permitted to allow 70% of their maximum. Weddings are also able to resume with a maximum capacity of 100 at designated venues or 30 at home.

At restaurants, tables can seat up to 10, while cafes will be allowed to accommodate six. Mask-wearing and social distancing of 6 feet are still required.

Additional reporting by Ashley Kosciolek.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Why We Chose It

There’s a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It’s been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you’re hitting the skies soon, you’ll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there’s no reason that the foodie shouldn’t add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits.
  • Few travel perks and protections.