Updated 28 July 2020
On 7 July 2020, Dubai reopened for tourism after remaining closed for almost 4 months. As a resident of the city, I have been closely following all the measures that were taken over this duration to control the Covid-19 cases and ‘flatten the curve’, so to say. From the National Disinfection Program (a partial curfew) which started in March, to the complete lockdown which lasted about 3 weeks in April, Dubai began to re-open some of its commercial establishments (such as malls) as early as May. Finally in the first week of July, Dubai reopened the border to welcome tourists, ensuring strict procedures were being followed by the airport, the state-owned airline Emirates, and other tourist establishments such as hotels & activities.
2020 was meant to be a crucial year for Dubai, with a vision to receive 20 million tourists, a dream that was mercilessly crushed by the Covid-19 situation. Although they are nowhere close to now being able to achieve that goal, it is commendable how hard the government has been working to ensure that the travel & tourism sector picks up pace before the end of the year. Not only has Dubai Tourism poured in a huge chunk into releasing a worldwide campaign on how safe Dubai is, even in reality, a lot of measures and procedures are being followed on ground. Having said that, we do still see an average of 300 new cases every day in a country that has a population of 9 million, so we are nowhere close (yet) to having fully curbed the infection. However, we are learning to live with it and the excellent medical facilities in the country are a huge benefit.
Dubai was recently awarded a Safe Travel Certification from the World Travel and Tourism Council. It was also promoted as one of the safest countries to travel to post Covid-19 reopening by a popular travel vlogger and influencer, Nas Daily, adding a feather in its cap!
Dubai has now reopened for tourism, but is this really the right time to travel? Many are still not willing to take the risk, which is fair, but there are several travel-starved people that are looking forward to going back to doing what they love – explore the world! 'Revenge spending', a term coined for people who have a pent up need to spend money on certain experiences (such as travel or dining out), is expected to come into effect now. Dubai actually makes for a fantastic tourism destination for many reasons – the swanky high rise towers which form a really awe-inspiring skyline make for some insta-worthy photos, the gorgeously blue waters of the ocean are enticing, and it is quite amazing to see how the country has capitalized on its unappealing features (such as the excruciatingly hot summer) by creating some of the most astonishing structures such as the world's largest indoor aquarium in Dubai Mall & SkiDubai, an indoor ski park.
However, in the context of Covid-19, if you are considering visiting Dubai in these next few months, here are some things that will help sway your decision in the right direction.
The PROS of travelling at this time:
- The UAE is one of the very few countries in the world that has opened tourism to everyone without any restrictions on nationalities that can fly in (yes, they are accepting travelers from the US as well).
- As long as travellers are able to produce a covid-free certificate on boarding, they are not expected to quarantine on arrival in the UAE unless they show symptoms of covid-19.
- If you’re flying Emirates, the airline has taken immense measures to ensure the safety of the passengers such as enforcing social distancing not only at their dedicated airport terminal but also in the flights, with pre-allocated seats that leave gaps between individuals or family groups. It is, by far, one of the safest and most reliable airlines to fly.
- Emirates also has introduced rapid on-site Covid-19 testing (results available in 10 min) for passengers departing from DXB to certain destinations which require Covid-19 test certificates on arrival.
- Emirates is also offering all its travellers free medical cover for Covid-19-related expenses! This means that if the travellers contract the virus during their travels, they can use the cover for medical expenses of up to €150,000. The cover is valid for up to 31 days from the first day of travel.
- All passengers are provided with complimentary hygiene kits at check-in.
- Selected airport lounges but most restaurants and cafes at the airport have opened, allowing passengers sanitized and safe places to relax while waiting for their boarding.
- In the city of Dubai, all malls, water parks, tourist destinations, restaurants and bars have also opened, following strict procedures. This means that you are not restricted in terms of the places that you can explore while you are visiting.
- Social distancing & hygiene rules are followed strictly here by most people and can lead to hefty fines for those who defy. This ensures a higher level of safety and lesser stress for tourists who can be at peace about the fact that rules will be followed in most cases.
Read: Try this unique dining experience in Dubai
The CONS of travelling at this time
- Summer really is not the best time to visit Dubai, as the weather is not tourist-friendly at all. With highs of 50 degrees C and humidity reaching almost 90% on most days, it is not a pleasure to be outdoors during this time (October is when the city begins to cool down).
- Several outdoor destinations such as Miracle Garden & Global Village are closed during the summer months. One needs to be prepared to spend majority of their time indoor.
- Clubs are shut, which means the remarkable nightlife that this city boasts of, is not something you can enjoy at this time.
- Crossing the borders to Abu Dhabi requires a special Covid-19 test. This means that the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is off limits/ difficult to get to at this point & transiting from one emirate to another is not very smooth.
- Although we have managed to flatten the curve and reduce the daily new cases of coronavirus in the UAE, we are nowhere near defeating it. There is still a moderate amount of risk which needs to be factored in.
Dubai reopened for tourism - the REQUIREMENTS for travelling
- Tourists visiting the country will be required to present a recent COVID-19 PCR test negative certificate done within 96 hours of departure, and this will be checked in their country of departure while checking in to their flight.
- However, travellers from these specific countries will still be required to do a covid-19 PCR swab test on arrival at DXB. The 29 countries have been selected for the high number of new daily cases or the lack of recognised testing centres.
- All travelers arriving in Dubai must also fill out health declaration forms that disclose any possible symptoms of the disease. These will be given to passengers by the airline they are flying with
- On arrival at Dubai airport, every passenger will have their temperature scanned via thermal screening devices and everyone is expected to download the Covid-19 DXB app
- Visitors are expected to have valid medical insurance. Those that arrive without it will be asked to sign a disclaimer undertaking that they will "bear all costs of quarantine and treatment".
- Flouting the rules and procedures while in the country can lead to hefty fines so one must ensure they are aware of all the rules regarding social distancing and wearing masks.
- It is mandatory to wear masks in public except while dining, swimming, or exercising.
The Final Verdict
If you, like me, have been waiting to travel and cannot handle the 'cabin fever' anymore, Dubai is one of the best destinations you can travel to, at this point. The city has gone lengths to ensure safety of the visitors, most tourist destinations and activities have opened up, and rules which have been put in place are respected to a great extent and followed by most residents. The only downside is the intense heat which restricts outdoor activities during the summer months but there are quite a few indoor options for visitors (especially if you love malls). Also, the rules change frequently keeping in line with the current situation, which makes it absolutely imperative to keep an eye out on the news and updates while you're here. Travelling, in general, at this stage, is not free of some amount of stress. But if you're willing to put up with that, and some sweltering heat, Dubai is definitely a great destination to travel to.
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