Abu Dhabi is re-opened to travelers

Dec 24, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated for clarity on quarantine guidelines since publication.

How did a small sovereign state in the Arabian Desert become one of the world’s most aspirational vacation destinations? One way is by claiming over a hundred Guinness World Records. Among the records: One for the tallest building, the world’s largest indoor shopping mall, the biggest aquarium, the largest automated water fountain and the biggest indoor ski park.

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. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. (Image by dblight/Getty Images)

Just for good measure, United Arab Emirates also boasts the world’s only seven-star hotel: The Burj Al Arab in Dubai. It’s also home to the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 and the Grand Mosque, amongst hundreds of other incredible sights. Oh, and two of the three opulent Middle East carriers call the country home.

The UAE is a land of record-setting experiences.

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Each year, more than 21 million travelers visit the seven emirates comprising the UAE. Dubai, the most populous of the seven, singlehandedly accounts for more than 16 million of those visitors. In 2020, however, those numbers have dropped drastically after the UAE suspended most commercial passenger flights back in March in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dubai reopened to visitors back in July. Now, Abu Dhabi has opened its doors as of December 24. Here’s what you need to know.

In This Post

Entering the UAE

The UAE reopened its borders to international visitors in early July, after a three-month hiatus. All visitors 12 and older must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of departure time, and all test results must be presented either in English or Arabic in original, physical form. Digital copies will not be accepted. Travelers with severe and moderate disabilities may be exempted from the test requirement.

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

Upon arrival

429620146 Dubai skyline with beautiful city close to it's busiest highway on traffic S By shutterlk
Photo by shutterlk/Shutterstock.

You won’t find a curfew in place in Dubai, unlike many other countries that currently allow U.S. travelers to visit. However, you’ll undergo multiple health screenings to pass through immigration, according to the U.S. embassy.

Quarantine requirements

Is quarantine mandatory for incoming travelers? Here’s what we know:

The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority of the UAE (NCEMA), as well as the official website of the UAE, has stated that anyone entering the UAE from another country undergoes a self-quarantine of 14 days. Violating home quarantine is punishable by law.

However, visitors entering Dubai are not required to quarantine if they can show that they are in recent clean health, according to local media source Gulf News.

Abu Dhabi will maintain a list of countries that it deems “safe,” which will be updated every two weeks. Nationals from those nations will not be subject to any quarantine requirements, while those entering from countries designated as higher-risk will indeed be required to quarantine for 14 days.

The safe list as of Dec. 24 includes Australia, Brunei, China, Greece, Greenland, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mauritius, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, according to Business Traveller.

Arriving in Dubai

Travelers should also expect to:

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 14 days at a hotel or self-isolated private address, with successful follow-up test results before quarantine is complete. All expenses associated with quarantine are the responsibility of the traveler.

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 up to $27,000 for the most severe infractions.

Can you travel to Abu Dhabi?

UAE elite aerobatic flying team "Al Fursan" escorts an Etihad A380 aircraft as they fly over the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, ahead of the final race of the Formula One Grand Prix season, on December 1, 2019. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP) (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)
UAE elite aerobatic flying team “Al Fursan” escorts an Etihad A380 aircraft as they fly over the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

Currently, according to the U.S. Embassy website, visitors who enter the UAE via Dubai can travel to Abu Dhabi by road if they present proof that they are COVID-free, dated within the past 48 hours of travel time. Non-Abu Dhabi residents who stay for six or more consecutive days must take an additional COVID-19 PCR test on the sixth day.

Abu Dhabi will maintain a list that it updates every two weeks of countries that are considered “safe” and those that present more of a risk to the local population. Nationals traveling from “safe” countries will not face quarantine restrictions, but anyone coming from a higher-risk country will be required to undergo a two-week quarantine.

Those entering Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) from safe countries will have to quarantine only until negative PCR test results can be provided, and those entering from countries not on the safe list must quarantine for ten days.

Featured photo by Shutterstock.

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