Travellers from South Africa and 11 other countries across the African continent will finally be allowed to travel to and transit through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following a two-month-long travel ban that was introduced when the Omicron variant was first detected in Southern Africa.
The rule change will now mean that Emirates and Etihad Airways will finally be allowed to carry passengers from the affected countries on flights to the UAE. Passengers will, however, have to take at least three COVID-10 PCR tests if they want to travel to or through the UAE.
The UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Emergency Management Authority announced the change in a late night update on Wednesday. The travel ban is set to be lifted on Saturday, January 29, at 2:30 pm.
Along with South Africa, travel will also be permitted from the following countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Under the current restrictions, passenger flights have been allowed to operate to the affected countries, but aircraft are only allowed to return to the UAE with cargo but no passengers onboard.
Emirates cancelled all services to Cape Town and Durban but was still operating a passenger service to Johannesburg. The airline has not yet confirmed when it will restart passenger flights from South Africa.
The UAE has been very slow to lift its African travel bans compared to many other countries but Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Official Spokesperson for the UAE Health Sector, insisted on Wednesday that the country had been a “distinguished model of containing coronavirus (COVID-19) and its variants”.
Passengers hoping to fly to the UAE will be required to take a PCR test within 48 hours of travel and a second rapid PCR test at the airport. A third PCR test is required on arrival in the UAE.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.