What to know about coronavirus and travel around the Middle East
Countries around the region are beginning to open up after weeks of lockdown restrictions, but each has a different response when it comes to domestic and international travel. Here’s what travellers need to know.
The UAE has now reopened for international travel, although rules and restrictions remain in place, and differ between Dubai and the rest of the emirates.
In Dubai, residents are permitted to travel abroad provided they meet the entry requirements at their final destination (those travelling to Europe and the EU must carry a Covid-19 negative certificate as per Dubai guidelines), get GDRFA permission to return and must present a Covid-19 negative test taken within 96 hours of travelling back to Dubai. All international tourists are also being permitted to travel to Dubai, and are also now required to provide a Covid-19 negative certificate taken no more than 96 hours prior to arriving. Arrivals do not need to quarantine upon arrival.
For UAE residents travelling from Abu Dhabi or the Northern Emirates, ICA approval is no longer required to travel in or out of Abu Dhabi, although for ease of returning residents are advised to register their details on uaeentry.ica.gov.ae. Those travelling out of Abu Dhabi with Etihad must present a Covid-19 negative test, while all returning residents travelling back to Abu Dhabi are required to get a Covid-19 test prior to departure and present a negative certificate taken within 96 hours. Regardless of the result, they must then quarantine for 14 days.
After a two week lockdown, which saw its daily new cases drop by as much as 60%, Oman is gradually lifting lockdown measures again. The nightly curfew has been lifted, and as it enters phase five of reopening, Oman has permitted international restaurants and hotel pools to reopen. International travel is still banned in and out of the country, although limited outbound repatriation flights from Oman continue to operate to help residents return to their home countries.
As part of the final phase of a three-part reopening plan, Saudi Arabia’s Saudia resumed domestic flights last month, with regular flights now operating between the major regions. Land borders between Saudi Arabia and its neighbouring countries also reopened at the end of July, and the countries malls and restaurants are now operating again.
International flights still remain grounded, however Etihad has added flights to Jeddah and Riyadh to its flight route from September 1.
On August 1, Kuwait resumed international flights for the first time since March 13, but at the same time extended a ban on flights to and from 31 destinations still deemed “high risk” in the wake of Covid-19. Initially Kuwait International Airport will operate at 30% capacity, welcoming no more than 10,000 passengers per day, with the number of flights is capped at 100. All arrivals are required to quarantine for two weeks, and must carry international health insurance that covers Covid-19, according to local media reports.
According to Gulf Air, entry into the Kingdom of Bahrain remains restricted to citizens and residents of Bahrain, GCC countries not requiring a visa and passengers with a valid Prior Permission Granted letter, although international travellers can transit through the Kingdom. Bahrain’s national airline has resumed flights to several destinations including the UK, Germany, France, Egypt, Pakistan, Greece and the UAE. Emirates and Etihad have also resumed flights to Bahrain for those that meet the entry requirements and/or transit passengers.
In June all of Jordan’s domestic tourism destinations reopened for domestic tourism, and are operating at full capacity for locals and expatriates residing in Jordan.
Jordan was set to resume flights to 22 pre-approved “safe countries” on August 5 but a day prior, the resumption of international flights was postponed officials confirmed in a report by Reuters.
Despite the catastrophic blast in Beirut Port on August 4, flights in and out of Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport continue to operate. Emirates and Etihad offer daily flights from Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively to Beirut, while flydubai flies four times per week to the capital.
Arrivals into Lebanon should present a Covid-19 negative certificate taken within 96 hours, and must also fill in a health declaration form issued by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health prior to arriving. All travellers will undergo another test when arriving into Beirut airport and must quarantine until they get their results, which is within 48 hours.