Dubai has reopened for tourism- but should you travel yet?

Updated 5 October 2020

Dubai reopened for tourism in early July this year, after remaining closed for almost 4 months due to Covid-19. 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 800 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 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.
  • The weather is also amazing between October - April, which means a lot of outdoor activities and venues are now open and worth exploring. The summer here can be really hot but the winter months are pleasant, perfect for soaking up the sun and not too cold.

Read: Try this unique dining experience in Dubai

The CONS of travelling 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 earlier believed that we had managed to 'flatten the curve', so to say, the daily new cases of coronavirus in the UAE have risen once again and we are nowhere near defeating it. There is still a moderate amount of risk which needs to be factored in.

Read: 15 amazing things you can do for free in Dubai

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. These 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.

Read: 10 things you must know before travelling to the UAE

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. With the weather cooling down, there's a lot to do now in the outdoors too, if you're apprehensive about being in closed spaces at this moment. However, do keep an eye out on the rules which change frequently keeping in line with the current situation, you can find the latest news and updates 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, which probably is here to stay for a while, Dubai is definitely a great destination to travel to.

Click here to book your hotel in Dubai.


39 thoughts on “Dubai has reopened for tourism- but should you travel yet?”

  1. It is exciting to see the reopening but, also scary and being fearful of going backwards. Until now I have never heard the term “revenge spend”. It sounds like a bad relationship haha! This was very informative on debating to travel now or not.

    1. I guess it will take most people some time to start getting comfortable with the idea of travelling. We certainly do not want a second wave! Dubai is, however, taking a lot of precautions to ensure the safety of the people here. Thankfully, the cases have been on a downward spiral for a while now.

  2. This is such a helpful post. I am glad that things Are slowly opening and Dubai is taking all the necessary steps to ensure safety at the time of covid_19. Thanks for the detailed post. Can’t wait for any longer to travel.

  3. As Dubai has reopened tourism, it is good you have listed all pros and cons to consider before planning for Dubai. It is good that social distancing norms are respected here and also there are hefty fines for those who don’t follow. It is always better to be safe in this crisis situation. Emirates is providing best service by providing Covid tests for free and also hygiene kits for travelers.

    1. Emirates also has started providing free Covid medical coverage to its travellers. That’s a big step!

  4. Thanks for the very informative post Medha! it’s undoubtedly a positive sign that countries are somewhat returning to normality, although the news we hear everyday are still not so good. I honestly don’t have a clue what the next months are going to look like and I don’t have any international travel planned at the moment.

  5. It’s wonderful to see places opening up after such a tragedy which is still going on in few countries. Lucky you in Dubai! I recently saw the same in one of the NAS videos and you came to my mind. Thanks for stating the pros and cons, no wonder Emirates is taking well care but I think I will surely wait for Dubai to get back to its toes, the nightlife as you had mentioned! Also things to get more accustomed to the new normal!

    1. That’s the general opinion. People are still not comfortable to travel yet.

  6. Whoa! I never knew there was such a thing as revenge spending. Good to know :D. Still Covid or no Covid, I wouldn’t travel to Dubai at this time, the weather would be too hot. I visited once in September, and still it was unbearable. I like the idea of no crowds though, and they seem to be one of the few countries welcoming people from everywhere!

    1. Yes, the weather is not great at this moment, summer usually isn’t peak tourist season here because of that.

  7. Thanks for all of the information! A Covid Test offered on site to avoid quarentine? That is an interesting approach. I appreciate the objective presentation of this information. Even thought I am not traveling now it is good to know what is out there!

  8. It’s nice to see countries returning to some form of normalicy. The new normal for the time being is obviously different for the time being. That being said, I would be very hesitant to travel or even open up tourism without a definitive long term solution. It would break my heart to see a country open itself for hospitality only to get an increase in cases. We cant WAIT to get back into the world and travel but unfortunatly for us, it doesnt look like 2020 is a travel year 🙁

    1. It’s the common opinion at the moment, most people aren’t ready to travel yet.

  9. Seems to me like Dubai will be a great destination later in the year if there are still restrictions elsewhere. Great to see all the proactive measures they are putting in place to help minimize risk and spread.

  10. And they say the show must go on… so basically we are all learning to function in this new normal. Its good that some places are opening up. Infact Emirates was the first airlines to announce about Covid tests and precautionary measures, so its good its happening now. Those places which do not have many cases and are planning to travel can start with Dubai. I guess Indians will have to wait. But I think now everyone will have to be prepared with an extra budget of ’14 day quarantine requirements’ if in case one tests positive…

    1. I think its best to get tested before travelling and take necessary (or even extra) precaution while travelling, so that you don’t end up with a positive test on arrival!

  11. Travel is still very uncertain at this point where I am in Europe. Its good to know that Dubai is open as I often transit there on my way to Asia. At the moment, even though we can travel outside, it is not for sure we can come back in. This makes it better to visit local sites for now.

  12. To be honest, I am not yet ready to travel again and would be skipping any trips till next year. Whatever the situation is in Dubai and the rest of the world, I pray for everyone’s safety. Anyway, love the term revenge spending. I am totally looking forward to it once these are all over.

    1. Yeah, I cannot wait to get back to spending my money on travel & experiences either, haha.

  13. Im so scared to travel right now! I would love to but i just am too scared. Its good to see that they are testing at the airports but it still makes me nervous that you do not need to isolate. Its great to see a balanced argument both ways so you can make a real informed decision as to wether to visit or not! maybe ill wait another month or two !

    1. That’s absolutely fair. I know very few people who’re willing to take the risk to travel right now, especially internationally.

  14. It’s good to know that Dubai has opened back to tourists. Whether to travel in COVID is a difficult question. Everyone has to assess the risk himself and make an individual decision. We have to be very careful when going in these difficult times. I would love to visit this fabulous city one day!

  15. Good to know that Dubai is now open! Although it is a very tempting opportunity, I still can’t coz there are no international travel in Australia. Will opt for local tourism for the time being.

    1. You’re lucky to have a lot of options locally to explore. Australia is a huge country with so much to do and see!

  16. Good to know the precautions and the current travel conditions in UAE. They sure have thought through a lot . While travel is not a problem there, I would be skeptical of stepping over the borders coz you never know when things change. Also, a week travel would entail at least 14 days of quarantine when I get home. That honestly, is not something a lot of us want to do. Guess, travel still needs to wait at my end.

    1. Yeah, I agree.. it is a little risky to travel right now, especially from countries that have strict quarantine rules for the returning residents.

  17. We were lucky to visit Dubai at the end of February, right before COVID-19 exploded. It is a beautiful place and I am glad they are taking so many precautions to make it safe for travelers. I don’t know if I am ready to travel internationally yet. The US just set a record for 77,300 new cases in a single day. Our country doesn’t quite have it under control yet, so I’d hate to put others in danger if I am a passive carrier. Anyway, I do commend Dubai and the Emirates airlines for taking the extra steps to put safety first.

    1. Yeah, a lot of people aren’t ready to travel internationally yet and that’s alright. It’s very kind of you to consider that you might be a passive carrier and not put others at risk. Let’s hope the US (and all other parts of the world as well) manage to get the situation in control soon, and we can start getting closer to the ‘normal’ that we once knew.

  18. I love Dubai. We lived there for 20 years. It is great to know that Dubai has opened up for tourism. The fact that it has good medical facilities is a consolation for tourists at this time. But International travel is still restricted, and it will be a while before tourists actually want to go to a place which has more indoor fun than outdoors especially in summer. 🙂

    1. That’s fair! I’d personally love to go somewhere I can indulge in outdoor activities too. Unfortunately, at this time, the choices are limited 🙂

  19. Very nicely written covering the minutest detail that any traveller would be eager to know.

  20. A very informative and well-balanced, up-to-date information for travel during these troubled times. Kudos, Medha.

    1. Thank you 🙂 I’ll be updating this regularly as and when the rules change.

  21. Good to see a balanced look at travelling at this time. We loved our visit to Dubai the last time. One of the biggest issue remains a concern about what happens if you get the virus after you left home. At least we know that Dubai has great medical facilities. However, since Canada is saying no “necessary” travel, it is hard to get medical insurance which would an issue while we are travelling. Being quarantined in an expensive place like Dubai for an extended period could prove expensive! Assuming we could quarantine in a Dubai hotel. We are still waiting to travel internationally for now.

    1. That is fair. For those who’re not ready to travel yet, looking for options locally is a great idea. And for those who wish to travel internationally, it sure isn’t going to be the same for a long time.

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