UAE extends visitor visas for Britons amid flight ban

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is extending tourist visas for British visitors stranded in the country.

The country has been placed on the UK’s “red list” of 33 countries, and no flights can land from hubs Abu Dhabi and Dubai after 1pm today.

The move hits Brits currently in the UAE as well as travellers from across Asia and Australasia, reliant on the wide route network of the country’s mega-connectors Etihad and Emirates.

In a statement, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that the country would extend the visitor visas of Brits stranded, although it is not known how long they will be extended by.

In a statement, Hind Al-Otaiba, director of the Strategic Communication Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that new measures including a mandatory PCR negative test certificate on arrival and restrictions on live entertainment and gatherings were part of the country’s measures to drive down Covid-19 infections.

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Almost 4,000 new cases were recorded in the Gulf nation on Thursday, another record high.

Earlier this week, Dubai tightened its entry requirements amid a surge in Covid-19 infections.

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From Sunday, the emirate will no longer offer a free Covid-19 test on arrival for British visitors. All visitors to the emirate will now be required to present a negative PCR test certificate on arrival.

The test must have been carried out no more than 72 hours before travel, shortened from the previous 96-hour window.

Dubai, a popular winter sun getaway for British tourists, has been offering big discounts at certain hospitality businesses, such as restaurants and hotels, for customers who have been vaccinated.

The UAE says it has already vaccinated around 2.5 million of its population of 10 million. It has approved Chinese vaccination Sinopharm and the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

Tourism is an essential part of Dubai’s economy, and British visitors are one of the largest groups of visitors. In normal times, around 1.5 million Brits visit the United Arab Emirates every year, with most gravitating towards Dubai, its main tourist hub.

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