What to Expect When Travelling to the Gulf

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Sarah Peddie

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a halt to international travel for the past few months as different travel restrictions have been put in place in many different countries. For expats, this has not been good news. Your travel plans may have been put on hold over the past year if you were thinking about moving around.

However, travel is starting up again as some airlines are starting to resume flights and destinations are being added to schedules. However, Covid-19 restrictions are now an integral part of travel.

If you are thinking of travelling to the Gulf region, then you should be aware of the different restrictions in the different states. 

So, what are the current restrictions and regulations traveling to and from the different states in the Gulf region?

UAE 

On July 7, Dubai had opened back up to tourists and had resumed some flights. The Dubai Emirates airline currently goes to 70 destinations and is hoping to return to normal by summer 2021. 

Residents from all emirates except Dubai do not need a federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship permit to return anymore. Residents from Dubai need approval from the General Directorate of Residency & Foreign Affairs before boarding a flight. Once permission is granted then they can return to any UAE airport. 

You will need a printed negative Covid-19 PCR test if you are in an airport and wanting to board a flight. The test must be taken 96 hours (maximum) before travelling - even if you are just connecting in Dubai. No results over SMS will be accepted - it must be a printed test result. Returning citizens, residents and tourists must comply with this rule. 

Saudi Arabia

International travel to and from Saudi Arabia is still suspended and has been since March 15. According to the Civil Aviation Authority there is no specific date for it to resume. There are some exceptions to travel like emergency cases and repatriation flights.

Tourist visas that had expired after travel was suspended, there will be no extension needed. 

Oman

Foreigners arriving in Oman have to quarantine for 14 days and they must present confirmation of accommodation. Visitors will also have to download and start the registration process on the Tarassud+ app before arriving.

If a passenger has an expired visa then they must have approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a new electronic visa form approved by the police. 

If you want to travel out of Oman then you will need health insurance coverage for the country you are going to and follow the country’s restrictions that are in place. 

Bahrain

This month, Bahrain had got rid of the 10 day quarantine that was in place for people arriving in the country. All passengers arriving will need to take a Covid-19 PCR test at the airport and then another test 10 days later by themselves. Until the test results are confirmed negative then passengers will need to download and activate the BeAware Bahrain app and sign a declaration saying they will adhere to self-isolation rules.

Qatar 

You can only enter Qatar if you are a Qatari national or a permanent resident with an approved entry permit. From August 15, those coming from high-risk Covid-19 countries must quarantine in a hotel or a government facility. Passengers from low-risk countries can quarantine at home for at least seven days and get a test done on the sixth day. 

An air bubble between Qatar and India started on August 18. Qatar Airways is flying to around 85 destinations. When flying with the airline, they require economy passengers to wear a face shield and a face mask. 

Kuwait 

Kuwait has announced that they are reopening the country over stages. Currently, the country is at stage one which began on August 1 - this means the airport returned to 30 percent capacity. The second phase will start on February 1 where the airport will operate on 60 percent capacity. Full capacity is not scheduled until August 2021. 

All passengers arriving in Kuwait must have a negative Covid-19 certificate from a PCR test no longer than 72 hours before travelling.

The health authorities review travel decisions every 10 days. At the moment, visitors from high-risk countries remain in a ban list to enter the country. The only exception is for first-degree relatives of Kuwait citizens. These include India, Pakistan, Egypt, and the Philippines.

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