Future of travel? One country’s draconian new rules for visitors in the age of coronavirus

May 25, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

At TPG, we paused traveling to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Local and federal governments around the globe are now debating the appropriate levels of isolation and distancing. Before booking that next trip, we recommend you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions. TPG is continuing to publish deals, reviews and general travel news to inform and prepare you for that trip, whether it is next month or next year.

In what could a preview of future international travel, the United Arab Emirates is unveiling some fairly draconian ways of tracking visitors, foreign workers and its own citizens in an effort to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The U.A.E. is hoping to welcome tourists back by July or September at the latest, but it’s unclear if that will include Americans.

Abu Dhabi May 2017. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Abu Dhabi in May 2017. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

The United Arab Emirates which includes the city-states of Dubai and Abu Dhabi said it was imposing a $13,000 fine on visitors (and residents) who violate strict anti-coronavirus measures. Those measures include tracking “bracelets” and mandatory tracking apps. Violators face steep fines for a variety of violations, and will also be “named and shamed” with their pictures posted in local media. Repeat offenders would be referred for prosecution and face prison. There are lots of other fines too including a fine of $800 for not wearing a mask.

For all your TPG news and more ways to save money subscribe to our daily newsletter.

The United Arab Emirates is beginning to ease some strict lockdown measures, but is still not welcoming tourists and a curfew remains in effect. There are some flights between the U.S. and Abu Dhabi. On May 13, Dubai-based Emirates said it was resuming service to nine international destinations including London, Chicago and Melbourne, among other destinations.

Related: Emirates and Etihad stop flying

The country is back under a mandatory curfew from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. every day after a resurgence of cases. 

Related: State-by-state guide to reopenings

Related: Country-by-country guide to coronavirus reopenings

The U.A.E. is made up of seven sheikhdoms, and foreigners make up 90% of the population. It has had more than 29,000 cases and at least 245 deaths. Foreigners who live and work in U.A.E. are being allowed back in, but they need prior authorization from the government and are still required to quarantine upon arrival.

Dubai May 2017. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Dubai in May 2017. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Anyone entering the U.A.E. is required to install a tracking app and wear an electronic bracelet to enable contact tracing in the event of exposure to COVID-19.  An app called ‘Alhosn’ was rolled out in April.  Widespread testing for coronavirus is also being expanded fairly widely. The government says more than one million tests have been administered.

Salem Al Zaabi, acting chief prosecutor of the Emergencies and Disasters Prosecution in the federal public prosecution said, “Anyone, who does not install or register in the COVID-19 tracing app on purpose and anyone who causes damage to the electronic bracelet or causes its malfunction, shall pay a Dh10,000 (US$2,722) fine with the repair costs.”

Shopping malls have reopened with strict new rules on social distancing, but public spaces such as cinemas, schools and sports facilities will stay closed. Some bars and restaurants have opened with strict limits on crowd sizes and following curfews.

Rules vary by region with Abu Dhabi and Dubai having slightly different takes on battling the virus. In fact, Dubai will track peoples’ temperatures and make sure they are maintaining social distances with security cameras. CCTV is widespread in Dubai. Dubai police and the government already have a facial-recognition database from its national ID card system which residents use for fast-track immigration at Dubai International Airport.

Related: 5 things you should know about visiting Dubai

A medical worker measures the temperature of a man at a coronavirus drive-through screening center on April 01, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
A medical worker measures the temperature of a man at a coronavirus drive-through screening center on April 01, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)


Featured photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

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

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.