UAE will drop its South African travel ban on Saturday

Business Insider SA

Emirates South Africa
Dubai (Getty Images)
  • The United Arab Emirates will allow South African travellers to enter from Saturday 29 January.
  • This comes after a two-month-long travel ban imposed on South Africa and its neighbouring countries following the detection of the Omicron variant.
  • The ban, just one of many imposed on South African travellers, has been described as unscientific and discriminatory.
  • Emirates has yet to confirm when it will resume passenger flights out of South Africa.
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South Africans will be able to enter the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Saturday, after being barred from the country for two months.

The UAE was one of at least 70 countries to reimpose restrictions on travellers coming from South Africa and its neighbouring countries at the end of November. This followed the detection of the Omicron coronavirus variant, by scientists of South Africa's Network for Genomic Surveillance, which resulted in widespread travel bans.

Much of the world shut its borders to South Africa, despite fierce criticism of the bans which were described as unscientific, ineffective, and discriminatory. Travel restrictions began to lift in mid-December, led by the United Kingdom, which was also one of the first countries to reimpose South Africa's red list status.

The United States and Canada have since reopened to South African travellers, with the European Union recently advising member states to drop their bans.

But travel to and from the Middle East has remained especially tricky, with airline suspensions and entry restrictions lasting much longer, with little word on when South Africans would be able to resume travel.

Almost two months after first announcing its ban on South African arrivals, the UAE's National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) confirmed on Wednesday that the restrictions on travellers from South Africa and neighbouring countries would be lifted.

Travellers from South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, will be permitted to enter from Saturday 29 January.

Details on testing and possible quarantine requirements are expected to be released by the NCEMA before Saturday.

Emirates, which has faced fierce criticism for extending its suspension of flights out of South Africa – while still selling tickets – has yet to confirm its return date. The airline’s last update was published on 6 January, confirming that passenger flights from Dubai to Johannesburg would operate, but that it would not be flying passengers out of South Africa.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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