Combating coronavirus: With ban on leisure travel, families in UAE alter vacation plans

Only essential travel would be allowed and applicants would be assessed on a case-by-case basis according to the risk levels and health status in other countries

Image used for illustrative purpose. Group of happy friend spending some time together taking selfies using a selfie stick during their summer vacation in Dubai.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Group of happy friend spending some time together taking selfies using a selfie stick during their summer vacation in Dubai.

UAE - Summer vacations have started for schools and academic institutions in the UAE. While most families used to plan a trip or kick back this time during previous years, Covid-19 has changed the dynamics this year.

Residents and citizens who usually escape the hot summer of the UAE by travelling to their home countries or cooler places will not be able to do so this time as the UAE authorities announced on Wednesday that travel for leisure or tourism from the UAE will not be allowed until further notice. Only essential travel would be allowed and applicants would be assessed on a case-by-case basis according to the risk levels and health status in other countries.

Who can travel and how

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) has specified "certain reasons" for which UAE citizens and residents can travel abroad. Travellers can apply for a permit through an 'exit registration service' launched by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) on its website. They must also submit a health accountability form, which includes an agreement to undergo quarantine on their return and to not visit destinations other than the ones they have applied to travel to. The UAE has also put a system in place to approve residents' trips overseas, which categorises countries into low, medium and high-risk.

According to the NCEMA, the categories of travellers allowed will be those who travel for medical treatments, studies, business trips, diplomatic missions, humanitarian reasons and those who want to return to their home countries. People with chronic illnesses and those over the age of 70 are advised not to travel unless for medical treatment.

The NCEMA also said that all travellers must undergo a Covid-19 test before they fly as the health regulations in the country of destination may require a test result which dates back to no more than 48 hours before the travel date. The test result has to be displayed at the country's airports via AlHosn app. Only those who test negative for the virus will be allowed to travel. They should also have international medical insurance that covers the country they are visiting.

Families plan to make the best of what they have

Lebanese national and Dubai resident Rabih Saab said he has no reason to complain even if he and his family are unable to take their regular summer vacation to Lebanon because they fell "safer" here in the UAE. "Although my wife, I and our three-year-old son love going to our home country every summer, we are okay with not going this time due to the prevailing conditions across the globe. We are very lucky that the UAE has opened up all possible entertainment opportunities for us and has also reopened businesses so that we can gain back our financial stability.

Therefore, we will use the amazing resources we have here. I am looking forward to taking at least a couple of staycations in beautiful resorts within the UAE. Also my little one is looking forward to water park trips, while my wife is looking forward to our barbecue trips to the desert or parks. We will be taking all the precautions required when we step out and stay safe," he said.

Malaysian expat in Abu Dhabi Adilatul Abdullah also echoed the same sentiment as she said they had to abort their plans of flying to Malaysia this summer and would be instead be undertaking some road trips with her family within the UAE and maybe to Oman, when its border opens.

"For the summer break, my son was planning to fly to the US for his university summer programme in mid-July and then continue with his internship in Malaysia. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to change our plan. My son will now prepare for his SAT exam and finalise his IB extended essay while my 13-year-old daughter will continue with her violin lesson. There is also a plan to go to Ras Al Khaimah and later to Oman, if borders open."

Dubai Ladies Club offers women a summer travel experience

The Dubai Ladies Club (DLC) has announced an opportunity for its members, guests and patrons to enjoy a 'summer airline travel experience'.

Under the theme 'Fly to Dubai Ladies Club This Summer', the club aims to provide an entertaining, safe and enjoyable getaway experience for all ladies, and to offer an alternative destination for summer fun, given current travel restrictions.

Ladies will be able to enjoy a local summer vacation, spending their days relaxing on the only ladies beach in Dubai and refreshing with friends in the cool sea. They will be able to enjoy a comprehensive travel experience, including famous airline perks and hospitality, booking tickets to the club and receiving boarding passes, a duty-free shopping experience, an array of gourmet food options ordered from the comfort of the beach, and more.

The club aims to ensure that women enjoy their summer days in an environment that is compliant with all precautionary measures stipulated by official authorities. Such measures include maintaining a maximum of five people in each group on the beach or in the sea, with a two-metre distance between each person and a four-metre distance between groups. All sunbeds are also separated by a two-metre distance and masks are mandatory around the club, with the exception of the sea.

Enhanced facilities and experiences

Al Maha Al Bastaki, acting director of the DLC, said that these efforts are carried out in tandem to the recent reopening of the club and its newly enhanced fitness centre. She added: "We hope to provide women with a memorable, enjoyable and safe summer experience, despite the current implications of the Covid-19 pandemic."

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