As of Sunday, the UAE has administered 13.3 million vaccine doses, a world-high rate of 134.6 doses per 100 people. The country has one of the most efficient and convenient vaccination process in the world.
The impressive numbers reflect the stringent policy taken by the UAE since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. These policies led to a dramatic decline in infection cases and COVID-19 related deaths. They also allowed the country to resume most business, commercial and social activities and open its borders to visitors and tourists.
Therefore, it is shocking that Britain continues to place the UAE on its travel red list. The UK has categorised countries into three lists — green, amber and red.
Those who travel to, and returning from, green countries do not need to quarantine or self-isolate upon returning to the UK.
Passengers travelling to and from the amber list of countries must undergo as series of tests, while travellers from countries on the red list are not allowed to enter except for British and Irish citizens and people with residency rights, who will be paying hefty amounts to pay for the so-called mandatory institutional quarantine in government- designated hotels, which makes it rather impossible for even British and Irish expats living in the UAE to visit their home countries.
Disappointing and inexplicable
Flights between the UAE and Britain traditionally are the busiest, reflecting the historical relations between the two countries and the growing trade ties. In 2019, around 553,000 tourists visited the UK from the UAE, the highest number of visitors to the UK from the Middle East.
The UK is also the UAE’s third tourism market. More than 1.2 million British travelers visited Dubai in 2019, for example. The decision to place the UAE on the red list is thus truly disappointing and inexplicable.
“Disappointing to see that the UAE has remained on the UK’s red travel list. We have best-in-class health and safety infrastructure to protect visitors and residents. I hope families and friends separated by COVID-19 will reunite as soon as possible and resume other crucial business and travel links,” UAE Ambassador to the UK, Mansoor Abulhoul wrote on Twitter shortly after UK authorities announced the lists.
His statement echoes the reaction of dismay expressed by expats in this country, nearly all of whom have been vaccinated and hooped to connect with their families and friends back home in the summer.
We all hope that UK authorities reconsider their decision.