On Saturday, officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that its citizens who have not received the third dose of Covid-19 vaccine will be banned from traveling abroad.
The new rule will come into force on January 10th, 2022. The restriction will not apply to citizens with a medical vaccination exemption. The ban on traveling will also be lifted if people need to travel for medical reasons and in “humanitarian cases.”
The ban applies only to Emirati citizens, who represent 11% of the UAE’s total population. Foreign workers, who represent the majority of residents in the UAE, will not be affected by the new travel ban and will still be allowed to freely travel abroad regardless of vaccination status. The new travel regulations in the Gulf state were announced by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The authorities declared that the new travel ban was the result of a spike in Covid-19 cases. However, officials did not specify whether the restrictions on unvaccinated citizens might be lifted in the future.
Recent studies show that a booster shot decreases the probability of getting infected with the new Omicron variant that is rapidly spreading across countries. According to Our World in Data, more than 90% of the UAE population has received two doses of vaccine against Covid-19. As of December 24, about 34% had received the third dose.
Foreign tourists visiting the Gulf state are not required to be vaccinated to enter the UAE but they must present a PCR test with a negative result before embarking on their flight. However, travel regulations might differ slightly between the emirates and unvaccinated individuals might be required to quarantine. No quarantine measures are in place in Dubai, which is the most popular destination in the Gulf. Recently, the UAE has applied travel restrictions on foreign travelers who have been in a series of African countries with high Omicron cases. Despite the now global presence of Omicron infections, the UAE has not yet eased the travel restrictions on African countries.
The United Arab Emirates has reported more than 750,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic started, and over 2,000 casualties.