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Good news! If you are trapped in lockdown, or under stringent covid rules back home. You can now safely come to Dubai for holidays or even better, for remote-working in Dubai. The UAE, on top of great weather all year round, offers many activities outdoors. Since the COVID-19 crisis, the UAE government introduced several measures to make sure its residents and tourists are safe.

Dubai is welcoming back tourists since 8 th July in the best conditions, with few rules to follow to protect yourself and protect others. Here is your guide to Dubai holidays in this pandemic.

And since mid-October, the UAE introduced a 1-year visa for people working remotely, so you can enjoy the sun, the beach in a safe environment, without lockdown, and possibly pay no income tax, as there is no income tax in the UAE. So why not spend winter in Dubai, where you can be outdoors?

What was the lockdown like in Dubai from mid-March to mid-May?

Following the global pandemic sparked by the COVID-19 coronavirus, Dubai closed its border to all non-residents by the end of March. A lockdown followed until the 13 th of May.

Back then, the Emirate set up drastic measures to limit the spread of the virus:

  • Full lockdown, with people only allowed to go out to buy food nearby.
  • All gyms, including within residences, as well as non-essential shops were closed.
  • Wearing a mask was compulsory (and still is) when going outdoors, as well as respecting a 2-meter social distancing.
  • Deep sanitizing of all streets of Dubai, the only city in the world to have done it.

Dubai government was strict and there were severe fines given for breaking the rules. Some shops got their license revoked for not respecting the Covid rule. This allowed to limit the number of deaths related to Covid 19 and avoid hospitals to be running over full capacity. Mid October, the UAE counted unfortunately 466 Covid related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Dubai reopening to tourists and travellers

From 13 th May, outdoor activities like jet ski, flyboard, tubing, or boat tours resumed for residents, provided the covid rules were followed. They were mainly and (still are) no sharing, wearing a face mask, regularly clearing all surfaces, and reduced numbers of persons attending per venue.

Step by step, the UAE government, allowed restaurants, hotels, and attraction parks to reopen. International flights resumed on the 8 th of July, so tourists and travelers can come again to Dubai. Today you can come to Dubai and be in a safe environment. You are asked to follow a few rules for your safety and the safety of others.

The hotels, holidays’ residences, and all activities and attraction parks are now open. The great thing is most of these are outdoors. You can enjoy family activities, adrenaline activities, anything possible before the pandemic in the safest conditions possible.

This makes Dubai the place to come to enjoy a break and be able to enjoy time with your family and friends, while in Europe and the US, the number of covid cases is, unfortunately, rising again, compelling governments to introduce again drastic measures and lockdown. And with the winter coming, it may last for a little longer.

What are the conditions to be met before coming to Dubai?

There are several conditions to fulfill before your trip to Dubai. You have to follow the COVID -19 specific rules before and during your trip, here are some important links:
Dubai government Coronavirus advisory page: https://www.visitdubai.com/en/coronavirus-advisory.
Emirates Airlines COVID-19 information hub: https://www.emirates.com/uk/english/help/covid-19/.

These are the 5 requirements before traveling to Dubai. We will go into more detail in that section.

  • A negative PCR test, except for children below 12. There are 3 groups with specific requirements given which country you are coming from:
    • Tourists from the UK and Germany are not required to do PCR test prior to departure, they have the option to take it on arrival in Dubai.
    • All other tourists have to present a test done within 96h of the date of travel, and that is enough (like most EU countries, UK, some Asian countries, northwestern states of the US, Australia, New Zealand, GCC).
    • Tourist from selected locations also have to take a test on arrival in Dubai (like Eastern EU, California, Texas, Florida).
  • A travel medical insurance with international coverage covering COVID-19.
  • Sign a declaration to bear all cost of quarantine and treatment.
  • Complete a Health Declaration Form before departure.
  • Download the COVID-19 – DXB Smart App (iOS or Android).

iOS DXB Smart App: https://apps.apple.com/ae/app/covid19-dxb-smart-app/id1504818399
Android DXB Smart App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ae.gov.dha.covid19

Note that if you are traveling with Emirates Airlines, you will automatically receive free global cover for COVID-19 health expenses and quarantine costs valid until 31 st December 2020 (https://www.emirates.com/ae/english/help/covid-19/free-covid-19-cover/).

FlyDubai offers free global cover and quarantine costs until 30 November 2020 (https://www.flydubai.com/en/plan/covid-19-cover).

When and where to get a PCR test?

To be able to enter the UAE and not to have to quarantine, you must take a negative COVID-19 PCR test 96 hours before departure and bring the certificate to check-in. This must specifically be a PCR test, and home kit tests are not accepted. You have to bring a printed certificate in English or Arabic to check-in. SMS and digital certificates are not accepted, it has to be a printed version. Children under the age of 12 are exempts from this test as well as passengers with moderate or severe disabilities.

If you are doing the test in a non-English speaking country, ask the lab to send you the part linked to the test result in English. That is a standard process and most labs do it.

You can find the list of approved laboratories per country at the following link: https://c.ekstatic.net/ecl/documents/health-screening-documents/approved-laboratories.pdf

Travel Insurance and forms to complete and sign

The travel insurance including COVID-19 should be around 100-200 a for a family depending on the age of the travelers and the time spent in Dubai. Europe’s assistance can provide one, as well as all insurance providers.

The health declaration form must be completed and handed over at check-in: https://c.ekstatic.net/ecl/documents/dubai-health-declaration-form.pdf.

The quarantine undertaking form must be completed during the flight and handed over to Dubai Health Authority staff on arrival: https://c.ekstatic.net/ecl/documents/dubai-health-declaration-form.pdf.

What are the rules to follow during your holidays in Dubai?

covid-2019

Dubai government set up measures to make sure you are safe during your trip, but you also have to play your part to protect yourself and others. There are a few rules you have to follow during this COVID-19 period.

  • You have to wear a face mask everywhere. Once you step out of your hotel room or your flat rental, you have to wear a face mask, even to go to the beach or the hotel or residence swimming pool. The fine for non-complying to this rule is 3,000 AED (700€ / £630 / $820).
  • Children below 6 are exempt. Persons unable to wear a face mask due to medical conditions are also exempt and have to fill a specific form: https://www.emirates.com/uk/english/before-you-fly/health/medical-information-form/.
  • If you show the main symptoms of coronavirus like a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you have to take a COVID-19 test and self-isolate while waiting for the result. There are numerous testing centers around Dubai, and results are given within 8h, and the Emirate health department is working to improve even more the waiting time for those.
  • Restaurants are all open, but you have to wear a face mask to go in, and order, then you can remove it.
  • All attractions parks are open, and you have to wear a face cover.
  • Several places, like the Dubai Mall, the mall or Emirates, or even smaller malls have thermal cameras for fever screening. In smaller places, there are manual temperature checks at the entrance.
  • Bars and restaurants are open until 1 am. Night clubs are all closed.

Why not working in Dubai until next summer?

This has been very recently introduced by the Dubai government. You can apply for a remote working visa, so you can work from home in Dubai. If you want to avoid living under lockdown this winter, this can be a great opportunity to enjoy Dubai beaches, and great facilities during this difficult time in Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and a few Asian countries. You can find all the necessary information on the Dubai tourism department website: https://www.visitdubai.com/en/sc7/travel-planning/travel-tools/work-remotely-in-dubai.

What should you do before coming back home?

Several EU countries require a PCR test done within 48/72h before the flight, so you do not have to quarantine, and children are exempt from tests. For UK residents, this is still not possible, and you have to quarantine 14 days on arrival in the UK. There are plans for testing on arrival in the UK lead by Heathrow airport to reduce the quarantine to 7 days, but that will not happen until December.

A PCR test in Dubai cost between 150 AED (£32 / 35€ / $41) and 250 AED (£53 / 59€ / $68). You should expect to get the results within 24h, with some places giving it in 8h. There are several labs offering drive-through testing. You can find the list of testing facilities here: https://c.ekstatic.net/ecl/documents/health-screening-documents/approved-laboratories-in-dubai.pdf

Some hotels give a free test at the end of your trip. In case you have to do this test to avoid quarantine when coming back home, we advise you to mention it when you arrive at the hotel or holidays’ residence in Dubai. You will be pointed to the closest testing center.

Where should you stay when in Dubai during Covid?

Nearly all hotels and residences are open during this COVID-19 period. If you do not know what’s the best location for a short Dubai trip, you can read our article which lists all different touristic areas in Dubai, with pros and cons of each: Where to stay in Dubai?

What activities can I do in Dubai during COVID-19?

All outdoor activities are opened, which is great news, as nearly all activities in Dubai are outdoors. This makes it safer as coronavirus spread outdoor is limited, and you still have to wear a face mask and respect social distancing. Children below 6 years old are exempt from wearing a face mask, but it is advised by Dubai health authorities.

Water activities are the best way to respect social distancing while being outdoors. Jet ski, flyboard in Dubai, tubing on a speedboat, and boat rental are opened. You can share a jet ski if this is with your partner or child.

Water parks are opened as well as swimming pools in all hotels, like the Burj Al Arab or Atlantis, and private beaches and public beaches are also opened, but you have to respect social distancing and wear a face mask.

All Dubai malls are opened. They really worked hard to make it safer for everyone. They were naturally well set up with very high ceilings on each floor, and large ways. And the air conditioning systems were reviewed to use HEPA filters which are highly effective at filtering out all viruses, COVID-19 coronavirus included. Cleaning has always been high standards in Dubai, but it is now even more frequent.

You can also do a safari, one of the must-do activities with a jet ski in Dubai. However, you cannot share a vehicle with people not from the same household. Some companies adapted their prices, which works well for family and groups from the same household but if you are traveling by yourself it can still be a bit pricey.

You can still visit the Burj Khalifa, the highest building in the world, and enjoy a 360 view of Dubai, despite the pandemic.

Enjoy your trip to Dubai, and stay safe. Protect yourself and protect others.