Travel to Dubai
Dubai (Getty Images)
  • The United Arab Emirates announced it had opened tourist visa applications to fully-vaccinated travellers from "all countries" on Monday.
  • But the country’s national carrier, Emirates, couldn’t initially confirm if this update applied to South African travellers, who have been excluded from similar reprieves over the past several months.
  • Emirates has now confirmed to Business Insider South Africa that SA citizens will be able to visit Dubai, without any further details.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has started processing tourist visas for fully vaccinated South Africans, dropping an outright travel ban which was first imposed in January.

South Africans are now able to travel to the UAE, provided they are fully vaccinated with one of the Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The UAE initially banned travel from South Africa following the detection of the Beta variant which led to heightened global restrictions.

The UAE’s ban on South Africa travellers has been extended several times throughout the year, with earlier reprieves being swiftly rescinded.

Certain travellers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria, and Uganda were removed from the UAE’s restricted list earlier in August, while the ban on South Africans was only slightly loosened to allow for transit.

The UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) confirmed on Saturday that “tourist visa applications will be open to people from all countries” – provided they are fully vaccinated – including those arriving from previously banned countries.

But this good news was quickly overshadowed by word that South Africans were still limited to transiting through the UAE and would not be allowed to enter the country, even if fully vaccinated. This was the response to social media queries given by the UAE’s national carrier, Emirates, which, until recently, was only operating passenger flights to – but not from – Johannesburg.

“Passengers travelling from South Africa cannot travel to Dubai as their final destination, but are allowed to transit in Dubai.,” Emirates said on Sunday evening.

This caused confusion among South African travellers looking to enter the UAE and was reminiscent of earlier announcements regarding fully vaccinated visitors which had been reversed.

Emirates has since clarified its position and confirmed to Business Insider South Africa late Monday that “SA citizens will be able to visit Dubai”. The airline didn’t share any more details at the time, but said it would update customers later in the week.

Emirates’ online booking platform does allow for direct flights from South Africa to Dubai and the airline updated its travel advisory on Tuesday morning.

Passengers arriving on a tourist visa must take mandatory rapid PCR test at the airport. Full vaccinated travellers will also need to register via the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) platform or Al Hosn application.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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