Sharjah Mosque: The largest mosque in Sharjah can accommodate 25,000 worshippers

Abu DHabi: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) has announced that UAE nationals with diplomatic, special and normal passports can now travel toTajikistan without pre-entry visas and for stays of up to 90 days for each visit.

The decision comes into effect on January 1, 2022.

Entry to Tajikistan for tourism is currently suspended because of the conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Khalid Abdullah Belhoul, Under-Secretary of MoFAIC, said the agreement reflects the strong ties between the UAE and the Republic of Tajikistan, that were founded on mutual understanding and respect and a will to bolster bilateral relations, to reflect the aspirations and visions of the leaderships of the two countries and serves common goals and interests.

Belhoul added that this step is part of MoFAIC’s diplomatic and consular efforts that aim to strengthen the UAE’s global position. 

He stressed that providing distinguished consular services to ensure the happiness of Emiratis is one of the Ministry’s strategic goals, in accordance with the directives of the wise leadership to provide all means of care and happiness to UAE nationals around the world.

Abu Dhabi: The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has announced a further update to the ‘Green List’ of countries for inbound travel into Abu Dhabi. The update is effective from December 26, 2021.

Passengers arriving from the updated ‘Green List’ destinations will be exempt from mandatory quarantine measures after landing in Abu Dhabi.

Travellers will be required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result, valid for a maximum of 48 hours before departure and undergo a PCR test upon arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Vaccinated passengers from the updated ‘Green List’ will take another PCR test on day 6 (the day of arrival into Abu Dhabi is counted as day 1). Unvaccinated travellers arriving from the ‘Green List’ countries are required to take PCR tests on days 6 and 9.

The list is regularly updated based on international developments, and the DCT has said that inclusion on the list is subject to strict criteria of health and safety protocols for travel, ensuring and prioritising the well-being of the UAE community. The countries included on the ‘Green List’ have been given the green light for travel and refers to inbound travel origin, not citizenship of passenger.

Below is the updated ‘Green List’ as of December 26, 2021

Albania

Armenia

Australia

Austria

Azerbaijan

Bahrain

Belarus

Belgium

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Brazil

Bulgaria

Burma

Cambodia

Canada

China

Croatia

Cyprus

Czech Republic

Denmark

Finland

France

Georgia

Germany

Greece

Hong Kong (SAR)

Hungary

Indonesia

Iran

Iraq

Israel

Italy

Japan

Jordan

Kazakhstan

Kuwait

Kyrgyzstan

Laos

Latvia

Lebanon

Luxembourg

Malaysia

Maldives

Netherlands

Norway

Oman

Papua New Guinea

Philippines

Poland

Portugal

Qatar

Republic of Ireland

Romania

Russia

Saudi Arabia

Serbia

Singapore

Slovakia

Slovenia

South Korea

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Syria

Taiwan, Province of China

Tajikistan

Thailand

Yemen

Turkey

Turkmenistan

Ukraine

United Kingdom

United States of America

Uzbekistan

Ever since I read the historical novel, Raiders from the North, by Alex Rutherford, I always held a desire to visit Fergana in eastern Uzbekistan, the land of great Mughal emperor Babur who was crowned at the age of 12, and discover more about the rich cultural heritage of this magnificent country.

We are avid travellers and due to the current pandemic could not think of any other destination than The Republic of Uzbekistan, which has reported very few Covid cases. So, it was time to buckle up and fly to Tashkent, which is visa free for UAE residents.

Uzbekistan has a wealth of historical monuments, not least the towns of Bukhara, Khiva and Samarkand, which were the capitals of powerful kingdoms for many centuries. Shimmering minarets, curvaceous domes and mesmerising mosaics make the Uzbek cities of Samarkand and Bukhara grand.

Learn from mistakes and so did we and would suggest travellers about the MUST online booking of Afrosiyob Train [Bullet train] in advance or at the station prior to your journey as it is difficult to get tickets on the same day of travel. The only option left for us was to travel for six exhaustive hours to Bukhara in a normal train, Sharq but all the struggle and the tiredness paid off as soon as we stepped into the Silk route city Bukhara.

The Historic Centre of Bukhara, situated on the Silk Roads, is more than two thousand years old. It is one of the best examples of well-preserved Islamic cities of Central Asia of the 10th to 17th centuries. Important monuments that survive from early times include the famous Ismail Samanai tomb, Poi-Kalyan minaret, The Ulugbek medresseh, the Lyabi-Khauz ensemble, the Kosh Medresseh and the Gaukushon medresseh to name a few.

A lively atmosphere with tourists and locals makes night life in the city more enchanting. The Arc of Bukhara is another marvel of architecture and history, while the Water Tower Shukhova, built by a talented mathematician and brilliant engineer is also worth visiting. The best thing about Bukhara is that all the hotspots can be covered on foot.

Our next destination was Samarkand, which was covered by bullet train. One of the oldest cities in the world, Samarkand was founded around the 7th century BC. Poets and historians described the city as The Pearl of the Eastern Muslim World. Timur wasn’t only a great conqueror but also a great builder. He’s the man behind the greatest constructions in Samarkand, including the Bibi Khanym Mosque, Shah-i-Zinda, the Ulugh Beg madrasah at Registan, the Ulug Beg Observatory, and the Gur-e-Amir mausoleum.

All the main roads of Samarkand lead to Registan, one of the most beautiful squares of the world. It was used as a public square for royal proclamations, celebrations, and public executions. Our first glance of the awe-inspiring monument complex was at twilight. We just could not take our eyes off the stunning and enigmatic architectural marvel.

Our journey came to an end at Tashkent where I wanted to explore the Chimgan mountains, the ski resort and Charvak lake by car. The austere open chair car ride from Beldersoy to the snow-capped Chimgan mountains was thrilling and captivating.

The republic of Uzbekistan is least explored by travellers, but I highly recommend this country as a lifetime experience not only for its cultural and architectural glory but for its friendly, humble, and helpful people. Any visit to a country is incomplete without trying out its food delicacies, so be sure to taste the shashliks, herbs and other salads, variety of soups, lepyoshka bread, tandyr nan, patyr nan, pilaf and last but not the least local tea and coffee. Moreover in this Covid era, it is a hassle-free exercise to get all important documents be it PCR, air tickets and immigration formalities in Uzbekistan. All medical centres deliver PCR reports within six hours. Hotels, food and other amenities are reasonably priced.

With fond, cherishable and warm memories, we hereby end our Uzbekistan diary.

Christmas is around the corner. And the New Year too. This is travel season, and I’m travelling to India. A journey after two years. That’s true for many people whose travel plans have been put on hold due to COVID-19.

Call it revenge travel, as in revenge tourism in the aftermath of the global pandemic. Most people are headed for their home countries to share the festive joy with their family and friends. Besides Christmas and New Year, this is also the season of weddings and get-togethers.

Leave requests are filed, tickets are booked, and the countdown had begun. That’s when Omicron, the new coronavirus variant, announced its arrival to the world. What followed was panic, sheer panic. My anxiety was not fuelled by the threat posed by the mutant strain but at the thought that the travel plans could evaporate.

How Omicron impacts travel

When you haven’t travelled for two years or haven’t seen your loved ones for two years, such panic is bound to happen. Will the flights be scrapped? Will the borders remain open? Will I be able to return after the leave? Questions, numerous questions, race through my mind.

Unfortunately, there are no answers. On current evidence, there’s no reason to worry. The scant data on Omicron shows the infections so far have been mild, although the transmission rate in the Gauteng province of South Africa has been high. Is it high enough to ground the flights? The World Health Organisation doesn’t seem to think so, and it has been critical of the move to ban flights from countries in southern Africa.

The WHO’s stance may have stemmed from the thought that the flight ban is akin to closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. All the cases that have surfaced worldwide must have been the result of infections from at least a week ago. Now, these cases will lead to local transmission. So what’s the point in banning international flights? Well, the WHO has a valid point.

More precautions and delays ahead

That gives me enough reason to be optimistic that the flights won’t be disrupted. But precautions will be ramped up at airports and other ports of entry. So brace for inordinate delays, and take adequate precautions throughout the trip.

Precautions, precautions, precautions. Nothing is too much, although experts dismiss the need to wear N95 masks; they say KN95 masks are good enough. Hand-washing or sanitising and social distancing are very effective in keeping the virus at bay. Social distancing may not be feasible on aircraft, but I will adhere to it whenever possible.

Read more

  • COVID-19: How Omicron will affect me and my daily life
  • COVID-19: Why the world is worried about new variant Omicron
  • Omicron could knock a fragile economic recovery off track
  • Omicron Variant: Seven ways India can keep a step ahead
  • Over-60s, vulnerable should postpone travel due to Omicron COVID-19 variant: WHO

The threat is not just from Omicron. Delta too is still around. So travel if you must, but be prudent with your visits. I certainly won’t be calling on the elderly, or friends and relatives with health conditions. That would be irresponsible. I might be alright, but I don’t want to carry germs that would put their lives in danger.

I’m going shopping next week for some gifts. Bags are to be packed. Then the PCR test followed by uploading the result and numerous forms to fill up. It’s a pain. But that pain is worth it when you travel after two years.

I’m leaving on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again, John Denver sang. I’ll be back in the New Year. What about you?

@ShyamKris_

Shyam A. Krishna is Senior Associate Editor at Gulf News. He writes on health and sport.

Given the opportunity to travel again after being locked up at home by the COVID-19 pandemic was such a breath of fresh air. And it certainly helped that my destination was no less a paradise for weary travellers like me looking for a much-needed respite: Seychelles, the famed archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

As the Emirates flight took off for the four-hour journey from Dubai to Mahe, the main island of Seychelles, I could not help but think of the beautiful white sand beaches and picturesque nature scenes — coconut trees, fresh fruits, a peaceful life. And Seychelles indeed did not disappoint.

From the moment we landed, it was clear what we could look forward to: a simple, uncomplicated life and an adventure full of nature’s bounty. Growing up in the island of Cebu, Philippines, my visit to Seychelles only made me miss island life even more.

During the trip, we visited three of the famous islands in Seychelles — Mahe, La Digue and Praslin. My personal favourite is La Digue, located some 43km from the main island of Mahe and 6.5km from Praslin.

La Digue

The fourth-largest island in Seychelles, La Digue is a granite island that receives its visitors mainly by a ferry boat at a quaint jetty in the village of La Passe.

As we arrived at the ferry pier, we were greeted by locals singing distinctive Seychelles music, but there was one thing I immediately noticed on the island, something most city dwellers like me would find unusual: there were very few vehicles in the streets. Instead, the majority of people — citizens and tourists alike — travel using bicycles or they simply just walk. Yes, the primary means of transportation is the bicycle, which is something of a pleasant surprise for me. In fact, it was one of the things I liked most about the island. You rarely see people using cars or other vehicles in the island. And getting on a bike was easy with rental facilities located near the ferry pier.

A visit to the island, however, wouldn’t be complete if you don’t get a chance to see and take a snap of one of its most famous beaches — Anse la Source d’Argent. Locals call the place the “postcard” of Seychelles as it is said to be the most-photographed beach in Seychelles. The beach has also been used as the backdrop for numerous advertising campaigns for brands like Bounty Chocolate.

To truly have an authentic La Digue experience, a visit to L’Union Estate is a must. Thousands of tourists flock L’Union Estate every year to see and experience the big and towering granite rock formations, one of the most-photographed formations on Earth. Apart from the big granite rock formations, La Digue’s L’union estate park is also one of the popular tourist attractions. It comprises Aldabra giant tortoises pen, copra (dried coconut kernels) factory, vanilla plantation and the cemetery of the first settlers of La Digue Island. The giant land tortoise is endemic to the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles. It is one of the largest tortoises in the world.

Praslin island

While it is a famous destination for beach lovers and honeymooners, the 115-island archipelago in the Indian Ocean is also a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers. With its natural charm and having plenty of activities to choose from, every island we visited certainly had something special to offer along with its own hidden gems.

So when we moved to Praslin island, it indeed felt like a new adventure. Praslin is the second-largest island of Seychelles, lying northeast of the main island of Mahe. It is accessible by domestic flights 15 minutes from the main island. It was named Isle de Palmes by explorer Lazare Picault in 1744. During that time, it was used as a hideaway by pirates and Arab merchants. In 1768 it was renamed Praslin in honour of French diplomat Cesar Gabriel de Choiseul, duc de Praslin.

It was easy to understand why the island was used as a hideaway by pirates: it features a lush forest. While the two other islands we visited distinctively offered the island living experience most people have come to associate with Seychelles, Praslin features its own distinctive vibe mainly as a nature park. One of the best places to visit is Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, recognising the outstanding value of its forest. The nature reserve consists of a well-preserved palm forest, flagship species made up of the island endemic coco de mer, as well as five other endemic palms.

It is said that the landscape here can feel very much pre-historic, and it does feel like that when you get to see some of the indigenous plants and wildlife that’s like no other you’ve seen before. One that really caught my attention was the coco de mer, a monocot tree in the Arecaceae (palm) family that has the largest seeds (double nut seed/double-lobed coconut) of any plant in the world. And unlike the coconut palm, the coco de mer palm has separate male and female trees. It is the female tree that produces the fabled fan-shaped seeds, which is also the world’s heaviest, weighing in at between 15kg and 30kg. For centuries it was thought to come from a tree beneath the ocean.

Mahe

The main island of Seychelles, Mahe, is home to the archipelago’s capital, Victoria, where you can visit many of the country’s historical and landmark sites. At the centre of Victoria is the Victoria Clocktower. Some people call it the small version of Big Ben. Built in England, the clock tower arrived on the island in nine cases and it took nine days to put it in place. It was unveiled on April 1, 1903. The simple structure is steeped in history and many tourists make it a point to drop by for a few snapshots.

Hinduism is actually Seychelles’ second-largest religion after Christianity, so an important stopover for practitioners is the Arulmigu Navasakti Vinayagar Temple, the first and the only Hindu temple in Seychelles. With Ganesha as the presiding deity, the temple easily stands out as one of most beautiful historical structures in the city.

One of the must-go beaches here is the Beau Vallon Beach. It is the island’s most famous and popular beach — for both tourists and locals — and one of the longest beaches in Seychelles, perfect for a lazy stroll to unwind as you enjoy the view of beautiful scenery and different water sports activities, which was what my fellow travellers did while we were there. There are also plenty of souvenir items sold in the area.

Food

The food in Seychelles was equally amazing. Naturally, it features a wide array of seafood, and one of the local delicacies you should try is the octopus curry, a beloved dish that strongly reflects the fusion of cultures that exists in the archipelago. The octopus curry (Kari Zourit) is considered as Seychelles’ “national food”. The Seychelles Creole dish is available anywhere — be it in luxury hotels or restaurants.

There’s also plenty of fruits and vegetables, with the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market the best place to check out the island’s fresh produce. Plus, you can also find gift and souvenir shops there.

If you are looking for shops to buy souvenir items, visit the souvenir kiosk fiennes esplanade. It is just a short walking distance from the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market. One of the most famous souvenir items to buy is the coconut oil.

Legendary hospitality

Looking for a place where you can unwind, relax and be in touch with nature? Then Seychelles is a must on your bucket list. But looking back on that trip, I realise that all the beautiful places we visited and all the great food we feasted on we’re really just one part of what makes Seychelles a must-visit destination. What really tied it together as a wonderful vacation experience was the hospitality of the people. Seychelles does not only offer beautiful places, it also boasts friendly and warm people who will truly make you feel at home in these islands.

UAE travellers can plan their travel from a range of holiday packages, with Emirates Holidays offering a three-night stay with curated experiences starting from Dh4,699 per person. Flights from Dubai take around four hours, with both locations having the same time zone.

Coconut leaf hats

Since coconut is a big industry in the islands, among the locals’ many handicrafts are items made of handmade-coconut leaf like hats, vegetable tray and even brooms.

Mango House Seychelles

Having a great place to stay will make your holiday in Seychelles even more memorable. One of the unique places to go is the Mango House Seychelles, which recently opened this year. The place offers a homey feel – staying away from the mould of traditional luxury hotels. It was once the grand family home of Italian fashion photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri.

Health regulations

Seychelles is proud to be a disease-free environment: there is no risk of contracting malaria or yellow fever. UAE travellers to Seychelles are required proof of a negative COVID-19 test, conducted within 72 hours of the date of travel.

Abu Dhabi: The UAE on Saturday announced recalling its diplomats in Beirut and banning its citizens from traveling to Lebanon in solidarity with Saudi Arabia in the backdrop of the unacceptable approach by some Lebanese officials against the Kingdom.

The move was announced by Khalifa Al Marar, Minister of State, who said: “The work will continue at the consulate and visa section within its diplomatic mission in Beirut during the current time.”

The action comes one day after Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador in Beirut and asked the Lebanese ambassador to leave Riyadh within 48 hours over the offensive remarks made by the Lebanese Minister of Information against the Arab coalition supporting legitimacy in Yemen.

The Kingdom also ceased all imports from Lebanon. Kuwait and Bahrain also recalled their ambassadors in Beirut.

Ras Al Khaimah: The hotly anticipated glamping resort in Ras Al Khaimah, Beach Banan, is all set to welcome guests for beachside vibes, campfire gatherings, yoga, and wellness sessions, making it the ideal spot to enjoy memorable experiences with loved ones. The emirate’s Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) announced the opening of Banan Beach in Ras Al Khaimah by the end of 2021.

Located on Al Marjan Island, the beach getaway will feature numerous facilities including vibrantly coloured tepee designed tents located around a central firepit, private chalets, family-friendly attractions, barbeque areas, designated spots to practice mindfulness, as well as an outdoor cinema screening a mix of blockbusters and family-favourites for all to enjoy.

The destination is geared towards families looking for a getaway while taking full advantage of the cooler weather in the UAE. The new attraction aligns with the Authority’s recently announced Sustainable Tourism Destination Strategy that will see the Ras Al Khaimah become the regional leader in eco-tourism by 2025.

All furniture, fixtures, doors, windows, and decorations for the chalets and tents, are handmade by the Banan Beach team using recycled, locally sourced, and biodegradable materials. The resort’s sustainability theme will also extend to its dining concepts, with natural and sustainable methods such as wood and charcoal for cookery used in its kitchens, instead of the conventional electricity and gas.

Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “Banan Beach is the perfect addition to our growing portfolio of family-friendly outdoor activities in Ras Al Khaimah. The sustainably driven camp aligns with our mandate to invest and launch authentic new tourism initiatives across the Emirate, and underscores our ability to continuously adapt to meet changing traveller needs and the growing desire for experiences in safe, open environments. We look forward to welcoming resident, local and international visitors to this stunning new getaway.”

Banan Abdalla, Founder of the resort, said: “We are incredibly excited to bring Banan Beach to Ras Al Khaimah. It will be open throughout the day, seven days a week, providing guests access to the Emirate’s crystal-clear waters all year long. Visitors will be able to relax and soak up the sun from an array of chalets and tents accommodating for varied group sizes and preferences. Those who prefer a poolside experience with a view of the beach, can opt to lounge by the pool, boosting energy levels by dining at the onsite restaurants or can cook up a storm themselves, using the BBQ areas.”

Banan Beach will also operate in accordance with the highest safety protocols in place, amid the coronavirus pandemic, ensuring the health and wellbeing of all visitors. 

Dubai: Four days is not a whole lot of time to explore Dubai and its world-record-breaking attractions. But if you are tight on time, here’s how you can fit the best of Dubai into 96 hours.

We assume that you will stay in Dubai for four nights and bechecking out on the 5th day. We also assume that you have at least a half day on the day you arrive to start of your amazing Dubai trip. Let’s go!

First things first: Stay

Deciding where to stay once you get here is key in planning activities after you land. The decision of where to stay will depend on your budget, and also on whether you plan to drive or use public transport. It will also be based on what’s on your checklist of places to visit.

If you’re looking for a cheap but comfortable stay in Dubai, you will be spoilt for choice in Dubai. Expect to pay around Dh250-Dh300 a night for two (excluding taxes) if you choose a well-rated three-star hotel. If you want to revel in the luxury that the Dubai hospitality industry is known for, you can find stays ranging from Dh1,000 all the way to Dh5,000 or more, depending on the location and amenities.

Transport: Public transport or car

The second thing to plan well ahead is whether you would be depending on public transport, or if you are looking at renting a car for the duration of the trip. If you’re not comfortable with the left-hand drive, public transport is your best bet. You can use the Dubai Metro, buses and cabs to get around easily.

Also read

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  • Best way to reach Expo 2020 Dubai site is by public transport, RTA advises

Check-in

For ease of planning your trip, we assume that you’ve landed in Dubai a couple of hours before checking in to your hotel which in Dubai is around 2pm for most hotels. Don’t forget to ask how early you can check-in at the time of your booking. For this travel guide, we also assume that you are put up in one of the many swanky hotels right alongside the glittering crown of Dubai’s infrastructure, the Sheikh Zayed Road, and with close access to the Dubai Metro.

We looked at some well-rated four and five star hotels that fit the mid-range budget, on Sheikh Zayed Road, and walking distance from a metro station. You can expect to pay between Dh500 and Dh650 a night on average for one of these, including daily breakfast.

Quick lunch

To save on time, and to conserve your energy for later, we suggest a quick lunch at the hotel. You could even order in using one of the many online platforms available in Dubai while you get refreshed or take some rest after your flight. If ordering through such platforms, you may need to go pick your food up from the lobby or other designated area.

Change into comfortable shoes and clothes before heading out. Don’t forget your cameras and phones as there are going to many ‘Instagrammable’ moments. Also carry a small bottle of water. For the first day, since we will be visiting Dubai’s famous markets, try and carry some change with you for shopping.

Day 1: Focus on Old Dubai

Dubai Frame

After a quick rest and fuel up, the first place to head to is one of the newer iconic structures in Dubai – the Dubai Frame. If you’re staying in one of the hotels on Sheikh Zayed Road, it is easier to take a cab to the attraction. Dubai Frame is a must-see destination for anybody interested in learning more about the city’s past, present, and future.

The landmark consists of two transparent towers that are 150 metres tall. They are connected by a 93 metre long bridge. On one side, the towers and bridge frame the buildings on Sheikh Zayed Road, denoting ‘modern Dubai, while the other side includes views of Deira, Umm Hurair and Karama, symbolising ‘old Dubai’.

Dubai Frame is a must-see tourist destination for anybody interested in learning more about the city’s past, present, and future. The main highlight is the Sky Deck which gives uninterrupted views of the entire city, both old and new.

On to Old Dubai

From the Dubai Frame, we can head to Al Bastakiya the oldest standing residential area of Dubai, part of what is known as Old Dubai.

The nearest metro station to the Dubai Frame, Max station, is quite a bit of a walk away so we would suggest taking a cab. Once you get to Max station, just 5 minutes away by car, you will have to take a train to Burjuman station (second stop from Max). At Burjuman you will have to get on the Green Line – headed toward Etisalat Metro Station. After getting on the train, get off at Al Ghubaiba station. Our next attraction is just a short walk away.

Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House

On this day dedicated to exploring Old Dubai, a great place to start is to visit the palace where many of the ruling family of Dubai grew up. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the late Ruler of Dubai, took the first step of restoring the structure, originally built in 1896 by his grandfather Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher.

The ruling family moved to Zabeel Palace in 1958. In the 80s the palace in Shindagha was restored, and in 1996 it was opened to the public after being converted into a museum that displays old documents, stamps and coins among other things. The palace is a conduit to Dubai’s past, and is located alongside the Creek.

Heritage Village

At walking distance is the Heritage Village, an important part of the Al Shindagha historical neighborhood in Dubai. Walking through the Heritage Village is a beautiful experience in itself, and very different to the glittering skyline that Dubai is best known for.

Tea and snacks at the Arabian Tea House

A must-do if you’re exploring this historical area, once known as Al Bastakiya, stop for tea and some food at the Arabian Tea House to experience authentic Emirati cuisine. Keeping in theme with the area’s focus on the UAE’s past and the country’s culture, the quaint café opened in 1997, and remains an oasis of peace and calm that allows visitors to journey back to the city’s past and explore its cultural heritage.

It has Emirati dishes and other Middle-Eastern fare on the menu along with a wide variety of teas and coffees to try.

Through a textile souk

After that pick-me-up, take a leisurely walk headed toward the Bur Dubai Abra Station. On your way you will go through the textile market. The lanes are full of small textile shops featuring fabrics of all ranges and prices and bargaining is encouraged. Beware of sellers trying to coax you into buying things. Be firm and walk on if you’re not buying. The 10 minute walk will take you through narrow market lanes and very close to the Shiva temple in Bur Dubai.

Bur Dubai Abra Station

For just one dirham you can get on an abra to ride across the Creek to Deira where the spice and gold souks await. You can even rent out an entire abra for just your party. The abras are frequent, so without much waiting enjoy the scenic trip and get off at Deira Old Souq station.

The Gold Souk

While in the City of Gold… Dubai promises and delivers. A stroll through Dubai’s famous Gold Souk will leave you enthralled by the designs and sheer amount of the precious metal on display. Many gold shoppers head here for the best quality of gold at competitive rates. Gold rates for sellers are fixed by Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group on a daily basis depending on market conditions.

You will be able to find beautiful jewellery designs in 18K, 21K and 22K. Where you may be able to get a discount is on ‘making charges’ – this is usually a percentage charged on the set price of gold depending on how intricate the design is. If you’re looking for gold jewellery, there is no better place to go.

Spice Souk

Colours and beautiful scents await you as you enter Dubai’s spice souk. Each store claims to be the best and the most authentic, so take your time going through the wares. This is a great place to get gifts for friends back home – from world-quality saffron, nuts and dates, teas, herbs and much more.

Perfume Souk

A little walk ahead will lead you to a treasure trove of perfumes, essential oils and traditional oud. For a nice souvenir to take back home, have one of the experienced perfumers create a fragrance for you. You can let them know your preferences and they will create something just for you.

Our top tip for visiting all these souks is to go through at least 4 or 5 stores before making a purchase. This will not only give you an idea of the wares available, but also give you a basepoint of the prices. For the textiles, spices and perfumes, bargaining is definitely on the cards.

A cruise dinner

After all that walking, our next tip is to get on a dinner cruise on a traditional boat called a dhow. A dhow cruise dinner along the Dubai Creek is a great night activity and most include an international cuisine buffet with vegetarian and non-vegetarian food options. Some dhows also have entertainment inside. The duration is usually two hours, which gives you ample time to enjoy a nice meal, and take in the lights and colours of Old Dubai at night.

Booking in advance is required and make sure you check out various providers. While some may offer rates as low as Dh30 per person, they may not have the amenities you want. It can go up to Dh115 per person. Some cruise operators also provide hotel transfers.

Once you’re done, if you got off on the Bur Dubai side of the Dubai Creek, you can use the Al Ghubaiba metro station. If you’re on the Deira side, the Al Ras station is your starting point to head home.

In to the night

If you are not quite ready to go home yet, head to one of the many rooftops and terraces in Dubai. If you’re looking for something in Deira, Cielo or QDs at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club are great options for an outdoor experience.

Closer to your hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, is Level 43 Sky Lounge which has just reopened for the season, or the ultra-luxurious Cavalli Club at Fairmont Dubai that features enormous chandeliers decked with hunderds of thousands of Swarovski crystals. Or you could head to the iconic Burj Al Arab for a night out in the Sky View Bar. If you can’t wait to head to the world’s tallest building, check out the Atmosphere restaurant inside Burj Khalifa.

Other options include White Dubai and Soho Garden next to the Meydan Racecourse Grand Stand, Armani/Prive in Burj Khalifa – the list is endless. In short, you have many options to try across Dubai if you’re looking to enjoy the night life here, and you can surely find something that suits your budget. Make sure you call the venue to confirm prices, reservations and timings.

Day 2: Expo 2020 Dubai

We have an entire day kept aside for you to properly explore Dubai’s best and biggest offering yet – Expo 2020 Dubai. The ‘World’s Greatest Show’ opens on October 1, and this will be your best chance to explore 191 countries in one place. Get your tickets online on the Expo website or through authorised sellers across the UAE. You may also be eligible for free entry, so make sure you check that out before buying tickets.

The best way to head to the Expo is by using public transport with a dedicated metro station and free RTA buses. We know, deciding where to go and what to do at Expo 2020 Dubai is difficult, so we have an entire section that you can check out to plan your trip. Ticket offers, pavilion details, lists of shows, stars at Expo 2020 Dubai and more – you will find everything ‘Expo’ in this category.

From UAE’s falcon-inspired pavilion with gigantic wings, and futuristic VR experiences, to daily live shows, your day at Expo 2020 Dubai will be mind-blowing.

In terms of delicious sustenance, you could break your fast with authentic Emirati food at Arabian Tea House Restaurant and Café, the first Emirati eatery established in 1997. Yup, a branch of the one you may have tried on Day 1.

For lunch, try a futuristic three-course meal with glow-in-the-dark dishes, specifically how a meal may look like 2321. As for dinner, you could dine at and celebrity spot at the same time at the Rising Flavours Food Hall. The ground floor of the three-storey dining hall is home to a regularly rotating line-up of culinary pods, featuring chefs and restaurants that demonstrate the gastronomic variety of each GCC country, including concepts from the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

If you’re not looking at splurging on culinary odysseys like these, why not try Dominos – the Official Pizza Provider at Expo 2020. You can also try one of the many restaurants and cafes at the Expo 2020 Dubai. Too tired to walk to your preferred restaurant? Talabat is the Official Food Delivery Provider of Expo 2020 Dubai. In addition to dine-in, talabat riders will deliver to fixed locations throughout Expo’s site using safe, sustainably responsible e-scooters.

Since you’re there for just one day, here are 20 shows you simply cannot miss at Expo 2020 Dubai. If you’re travelling with young kids, you could try out these family-friendly events at the Expo.

After spending the day at Expo 2020, if you have any energy left for a night out, you could head to one of the clubs and dining outlets we mentioned for the first night.

Day 3: Start off with Desert Safari

Let’s start off the third day in Dubai with something every tourist does – a desert safari with a camel ride. With pick up and drop off, and a picnic breakfast, this is a great family activity. You can expect to pay anywhere between Dh75 and Dh250 per person depending on what’s on offer. If you’d like to switch things up, you could also try an evening safari, many of which include belly dancing, dinner and other entertainment.

The View and The Atlantis

After a quick rest after the safari, head to an attraction featured on every Dubai poster – The Palm Dubai.

Visitors in 2021 are in luck because they can see the beauty of the man-made island from up above at the newly opened observation deck, The View. Priced at Dh100 per adult, this is a must-do to truly appreciate the architecture of The Palm Dubai.

After enjoying this incredible view, head to The Palm and as you get there you will see the popular Atlantis frame. You can ask your cabby to drive around to see the luxurious hotels and residence in the area. You can also park and get out on the broad walk to enjoy beautiful views.

Once done, head into the Atlantis. For a budget-friendly way to enjoy the hotel’s facilities, try the afternoon tea there which comes up to Dh150 per person. You could also visit the aquarium there called The Lost Chamber, tickets cost Dh110 per person. Also catch a ride on the mono-rail while there.

Palm Fountain, The Pointe

By the time you’re done with touring the attractions in and around the Atlantis, it will be the perfect time to head to the world’s largest water fountain show – again on the Palm. Inaugurated in 2020, the Palm Fountain broke the record for the world’s largest fountain with 7,327 square meters, moving the Dubai Mall Fountain to second place.

The first show starts at 7pm and lasts for 3 minutes. A show is conducted every 30 minutes until 11.30pm. Entry is free and there are several restaurants and shops to check out while you’re there.

Bluewaters Island

Now is the time to head to a nice part of town, perfect for an evening stroll and in less than a month will be home to the world’s largest observation wheel, Ain Dubai. Bluewaters Island is a new location which offers visitors several entertainment, shopping and F&B offers. It is also a great place for an evening stroll on the decked out pedestrian bridge that leads to Jumeirah Beach Road.

Ain Dubai is set to open on October 21 and will also feature sundowners, dining in the sky, and exclusive celebration packages.

Day 4: Adrenaline start

You could start off the day with one or more adrenaline-packed events.

Option 1: Deep Dive Dubai

If you love diving, then the world’s deepest swimming pool for diving must be on your list. Opened this year, the venue offers scuba diving and freediving, along with a Discover Snorkeling experience.

Deep Dive Dubai’s pool features a sunken city that divers of all levels can engage with and explore, complete with an abandoned streetscape and featuring a fully furnished apartment, garage, and arcade, amongst other surprises. All courses and experiences are delivered by a hand-picked team of international diving professionals and supported by the latest equipment, technology, and facilities including what will be the region’s most advanced hyperbaric chamber. The experience will cost around Dh400 per person depending on what you book.

Option 2: XLine

Try the world’s longest urban zip line in Dubai Marina. Priced at Dh650 for adults, this is an exhilarating way to enjoy the city’s skyline, not mention a great photo remember your trip by. You’ll have to book in advance and don’t forget to check their terms and conditions.

Arrive ahead of time at the XLine booth in Dubai Marina Mall and get zipping! Their professional camera team will send you video footage and photos. You will not be allowed to take your phone or camera for the ride.

Option 3: Sky Dive Dubai

Something celebs and tourists love to experience in Dubai is Sky Dive Dubai. A tandem skydive with videos and photos will cost you Dh1,799 per person over the desert, and Dh2,299 to jump over the iconic Palm. However, the adrenaline rush and the memory is totally worth it. You can also take sky diving courses here.

Again, book in advance. Head to Al Seyahi St. in Dubai Marina for this experience.

Once you have chosen and completed your choice of adrenaline-packed activity, head to Mall of the Emirates. If you would not like any of the above options, you can head to Mall of the Emirates first instead.

Ski Dubai, Mall of The Emirates

Playing in snow in the middle of a desert? Check. Enjoy some family fun in Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates. You can also meet the penguins and take part in fun activities like snow bullet ride, zorb ball, snow park rides and more. Ski Dubai allows visitors aged as young as 3, so this can be a great family activity.

Don’t forget to explore and shop at world-famous brand stores across the Mall of the Emirates. With a dedicated metro station, this is an attraction that you can easily get to.

Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa

Saving last for the best we have dedicated an entire half day to Dubai Mall, the Dubai Fountain and the Burj Khalifa – because trust us you’ll need the time when exploring the world’s largest mall. Don’t hesitate to ask for directions with the security guards or information centre staff because it can be daunting for first-time visitors.

As soon as you get there, head to the entrance inside the mall for the At the Top observation deck (Level 124,125). It would be better to pre-book your tickets. For Dh149, head to Level 124 and 125 of the world’s tallest building. If you would like to splurge there is an afternoon tea offer as well. To head to Level 148, At the Top – Burj Khalifa Sky, you can expect to pay Dh379 per person during non-prime hours (7pm to 10pm) and Dh533 per person for prime hours (noon to 6pm).

Swim with the sharks, underwater zoo

Diving enthusiasts can experience the thrill of scuba diving in the spectacular Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Following a quick theory lesson, the dive instructor will inform guests of the basic safety guidelines and skills in the confines of a cage before they venture out for their dive in the 10 million liter Aquarium.

For those who choose to opt for an unconventional experience, the shark diving experience allows guests to share the water with sand tiger sharks, reef sharks, leopard sharks, tawny nurse sharks, giant groupers and stingrays, and a whole host of other marine species as they embark on a diving journey in the 10 million litre tank!

Alternatively, the shark walking experience allows guests to witness the beauty and magnificence of sharks by getting up close and personal with the world’s ultimate predators all while wearing an oxygenated helmet. Costs are as follows: Shark Dive per person – Dh632, Shark Encounter per person – Dh504, Discover Scuba Diving per person – Dh968.

Dubai fountain and Burj Khalifa shot

Before The Palm Fountain opened, Dubai Fountain was the world’s largest fountain. Even at second place, it is a sight to behold with the shimmering Burj Khalifa in the background. Shows start at 6pm and are conducted every 30 minutes. It is completely free to visit.

Dinner and a walk

Grab dinner at one of the many famous restaurants in the area, or in the mall. Don’t forget to end your day with a stroll through Downtown Dubai.

And that’s it! Four days in Dubai complete – for the last day before you head off, or if you have more days to spend, you could visit some of the other attractions we haven’t mentioned here, such as Dubai Safari, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Souk Madinat, IMG Worlds of Adventure and so many more. 

Dubai: Cebu Pacific has canceled two flights on the Dubai-Manila route, citing new regulations that place a limit on passenger numbers.

“The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority has restricted the number of passengers for the Dubai-Manila route for the month of September due to regulatory matters,” said the airline in a Twitter post.

Cebu, which is trying to appeal the regulation, will cancel the following flights:

5J 26 (Manila- Dubai) September 12

5J 27 (Dubai – Manila) September 13

Affected passengers have been informed via contact details provided in their bookings, said Cebu.

“This is a developing situation – we’ll continue updating our guests should there be flight changes in the coming days,” said the airline.

Airlines are yet to announce the resumption of normal commercial flights on the route despite the lifting of a months-long travel ban. Cebu and other carriers are currently operating Bayanihan flights, which are special commercial flights approved by the Philippines government.

Dubai: Seeing airport security throw away your things can be frustrating. But you can save yourself a lot of hassle by understanding all the rules and packing your luggage correctly. Airports have rules in place as to what you can and cannot pack in your checked in luggage as well as your cabin baggage when you travel.

If you are planning to travel out of the UAE, it can be difficult to remember what items you can and should not bring onto airplanes or into your checked in luggage.

Choosing your bag

All bags brought into UAE airports must have at least one flat surface. Round and irregular shaped parcels will not be accepted at check in. Your bag also shouldn’t have a long strap.

You can check in rectangular luggage, a handbag with a flat bottom or any box, as long as it is sealed properly. If your bag doesn’t have at least one flat surface or is irregularly shaped and oversized, it will be immediately rejected at check-in.

Checked in luggage

According to Dubai Airports, a maximum two pieces of baggage are allowed for international travel, with the total weight not exceeding 32 kg. However, this definitely varies by airline and fare type. Always make sure you check with your airline before you fly. Baggage larger than 90 cm long, 75 cm high and 60 cm wide, or that does not have a single flat surface, will need to be checked in at the oversized baggage counter as it won’t be accepted on the standard size luggage scanning belt.

Hand luggage

Usually airlines accept two pieces of hand luggage. A shoulder bag such as a purse, laptop bag and backpack, as well as a small cabin bag. Cabin baggage should have a maximum length of 56 cm, width of 45 cm and depth of 25 cm including all handles, side pockets and wheels.

Liquids

In a carry on:

These days the restriction on liquids is universal, although enforcement of the rules may vary from country to country.

In UAE airports, all liquids should be packed inside a clear, re-sealable plastic bag, within your hand baggage. The item can’t be more than 100 ml and the total of all your items can’t exceed one litre.

Exceptions: Medication, baby milk and foods and special dietary requirements to be used during the trip.

In a checked in bag:

Packing liquids can be done in any quantities into checked in bags. Airport security doesn’t impose any limits on liquids on checked bags. If you do pack liquids into your checked baggage, the only concern is making sure the bottles and containers don’t open up and leak into your suitcase.

Tip: Unscrew the tops of your bottles and cover with saran wrap before screwing the top back on. This helps prevent spillages.

According to Abu Dhabi Customs, each traveller is permitted to bring a maximum of 4 litres of alcohol or one carton of hops when travelling into the UAE.

Money

The UAE keeps a close eye on money laundering and suspicious financial activities, as a result passengers traveling are supposed to declare whether they have large sums of cash on them.

“All incoming and outgoing passengers, who are 18 years and above, should declare the money they possess — whether in cash, cheques or precious jewellery — if they are worth more than Dh60,000,” Dubai Customs said on August 29.

Any cash possessed by passengers, who are less than 18 years old, will be added to what their guardians carry, the authority said.

You can declare cash and goods easily online. Dubai Customs’ ‘iDeclare’ smart application simplifies the Customs clearance process for passengers by enabling self-declaration of their must-declare commercial goods, personal effects, or cash either pre, or post-arrival at the airport, reducing the time needed for that to less than four minutes.

Exemptions for gifts

In August the authority clarified, “The exempted goods include personal gifts with a value of maximum Dh3,000, cigarettes (maximum 400 cigarettes), cigars (maximum 50 cigars) and tobacco (maximum 500 grams). Anything above these values is subject to customs duties.”

In order to be exempted from paying customs duties, gifts should be for personal and not commercial purposes and this can be decided based on the value and the quantity of the goods carried onboard.

Food

According to UAE government you can in fact import a certain limit of food for non-commercial purposes. These include no more than:

•20 kg of yoghurt

•50 litres of oil (including olive oil)

•10 kg of various types of vegetables and fruits

•100 kg dates

•10 kg sweets and bread

•30 kg of grains, cereals and red meat

•10 kg of fish and seafood

•500 gm of caviar

•11 kg of eggs

•20 kg for honey and sugar products

•5 kg for herbs and spices including vinegar, orange blossom water and rose water

•500 gm of saffron

•10 kg of special-purpose food such as children’s food is allowed

•20 litres of drinks and syrups including water

•5 kg of juice concentrates

• 25 kg of canned food.

Medicines

The UAE government advises tourists to be extra cautious about bringing in certain types of medicines into the UAE. Some medicines from other countries could contain substances that are banned in the UAE, which could lead to the arrest of those carrying them.

Dubai Customs said it has arrangements with the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) to allow passengers to carry medications prescribed for more than three months. However, passengers have to meet certain criteria.

“Passengers should have a prescription from an official hospital or a doctor that clearly mentions the medication and the health status of the passenger. Medications should be kept in their original containers and packaging and expiry dates should be clear on them.”

Customs authorities in the UAE regularly update the list of medicines banned in the UAE. People visiting the UAE must check their websites before travelling to search your medicine’s name.

Top 20 medicines that are banned in the UAE

Alpha-methylifentanyl

Betamethodol

Cannabis

Codoxime

Concentration of poppy straw

Fentanyl

Methadone

Morphine

Opium

Oxycodone

Phenoperidine

Trimeperidine

Ketamine

Codeine

Cathinone

Amphetamine

Pentobarbital

Bromazepam

Risperidone

Tramadol

Check out the full list on the Ministry of Health website

What are banned items to have in any luggage?

What is allowed when you travel?

Source: Dubai Customs

Permits required

For certain categories of items, or depending on quantities, you may have to get permits from specific departments before flying in.

  • Live animals, plants, seedlings, seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides: Ministry of Climate Change and Environment
  • Weapons, ammunition, explosives, and fireworks: Ministry of Defense / Armed Forces / Ministry of Interior
  • Medicines, drugs, and medical equipment, devices, and tools: Ministry of Health and Prevention
  • Media publications and products: Ministry of Culture and Youth
  • Nuclear energy products: Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation
  • New vehicle tires: Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology
  • Transmission and wireless devices: Telecommunications And Digital Government Regulatory Authority
  • Alcoholic drinks: Ministry of Interior (Dubai Police)
  • Cosmetics and personal care products: Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology
  • Raw diamonds: Kimberley Office UAE
  • Tobacco processed cigarettes: Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology

Customs fees

In general, customs duties charged is 5 per cent on the value of the goods, plus VAT as may be applicable. However, in the UAE, alcoholic, carbonated, and sweetened beverages products have a 50 per cent duty, and e-smoking devices (tools and liquids used in them) and tobacco products are charged a 100 per cent customs duty. 

Carry on vs. Checked in

Loose batteries

According to Emirates Airlines, batteries that are spare or loose, including lithium metal or lithium ion cells or batteries, for portable electronic devices must be carried in carry-on baggage only.

Power banks

Articles which have the primary purpose as a power source, such as power banks, are considered as spare batteries. These batteries must be individually protected to avoid short-circuit. Each passenger is limited to a maximum of 20 spare batteries.

Batteries, exceeding 100 watt hours or 2 grams lithium content

Lithium batteries, spare or loose with a watt-hour rating exceeding 100 watt hours but not exceeding 160 watt hours for consumer electronic devices, Portable Medical Electronic Devices (PMED) or with a lithium content exceeding two grams but not exceeding eight grams for PMED only require special permission from the airline. A maximum of two spare batteries are allowed in carry-on baggage only. These batteries must be individually protected to prevent short circuit.

E-cigarettes

E-cigarettes, including e-cigars, e-pipes, Electric Portable Incense (perfume) burner or other personal vaporizers that contain batteries must be individually protected to prevent accidental activation. They cannot be placed in your checked in luggage. Can only be travelled with on a carry on.

Personal motorised vehicles

For safety reasons, airports in the UAE will not accept personal motorised vehicles such as hover boards, Segways and smart or self-balancing wheels on flights. UAE Airports, for example, prohibits the carriage of all such devices – with or without batteries – as checked–in or carry–on baggage. This regulation still applies even if you’re connecting in the UAE from an airline that has accepted them.

Gas cartridges, small, non-flammable

Gas cartridges that are small and non-flammable and containing carbon dioxide or other gases require special permissions from each airlines and not more than one device per customer.

Smart bags: Do or Don’t?

Whether you’re flying with Emirates or any other airline, bear in mind that if you are flying to the United States, smart luggage has been banned since January 2018.

A number of other airlines have banned smart bags from the hold unless the lithium battery can be removed. Smart bags use lithium batteries to run GPS tracking systems, phone chargers and electronic locks, which have been linked to causing fires on planes. Passengers can carry the bag into the cabin if it’s small and the battery can be switched off.

Source: Emirates Airlines

Penalties and prison

The UAE Federal Customs Authority mentions that the penalty for smuggling could be either fines or imprisonment from 1 month to 3 years, or both fines and prison time, or the confiscation of items and tools used in smuggling, depending on the type of the smuggling crime and smuggled items.

*This information are based on archives and official websites. Please check with the relevant airport and airline before flying to confirm what is allowed and not. 

Abu Dhabi: National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) announced that the UAE would welcome travellers from Oman through its land borders starting September 1. The authority stressed that arrivals would be subject to strict coronavirus protocols.

Along with a negative PCR test result, taken within 48 hours of arrival, visitors will be required to take a rapid test on arrival at the border. The rapid test can be taken without exiting the vehicle, the authority added.

In case of staying in the UAE for 4 or more days, visitors should take a PCR test on the 4th day, and if the stay is for 8 days or more, another test must be taken on the 8th consecutive day after arrival. 

Dubai: Holders of expired residence visas issued in Dubai have until November 10 to return from India, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda, Dubai-based airline flydubai updated on their website on Monday. This was the latest update in a series of amendments made to restrictions on travel for passengers from these countries.

UAE had placed restrictions on all passengers from these six nations in April, earlier this year with limited exemptions for diplomatic passport holders, Emiratis, golden visa holders etc. The restriction also applied to anyone who had been in these countries in the 14 days before arriving in the country.

As of August 23, Dubai amended some of these restrictions but there are certain conditions attached. A few amendments differ for Abu Dhabi arrivals and/or passengers with visas issued in Abu Dhabi or other emirates.

We list out all the categories of travellers who are currently allowed to land in Dubai and the conditions attached for such travel. All these updates apply specifically for travel to Dubai only, and for residents with Dubai-issued resident visas. If you’re planning to travel to another UAE emirate and have a residence visa issued elsewhere in UAE, the guidelines could be different.

Valid residence visa holders

Residents holding valid Dubai-issued visas can travel to Dubai from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda, subject to the following conditions:

  • Hold a valid GDRFA approval that is issued on or after August 5
  • Carry a printed negative COVID-19 PCR test result (displaying a QR code) in English or Arabic, within 48 hours of travel. Such test should be from approved medical test facilities in the country of departure.
  • Undergo a rapid PCR, RT PCR, ID NOW or molecular test at the airport within 6 hours of boarding
  • Undergo a second PCR test on arrival in Dubai
  • Download COVID19 – DXB Smart App available on App Store and Play Store

While Dubai-based airlines confirmed earlier this month that vaccination certificates will not be required to board, GDRFA approval is necessary for all passengers.

GDRFA Approval

  • Dubai residents travelling to UAE – How to get GDRFA approval
  • ICA approval to travel from restricted countries: Here is how you can apply

Exemption from carrying negative PCR test result

UAE nationals and children younger than 12 are exempted from the PCR test requirement from country of departure. However, UAE nationals will be required to take a PCR test on arrival in Dubai, irrespective of whether they hold a negative test result from country of departure.

GDRFA approval not required for Expo visas

The website of Dubai-based carrier Emirates clarifies in its travel rules that passengers with a UAE visa sponsored by “Dubai EXPO 2020” do not require GDRFA approval to enter Dubai.

Expired residence visa holders

On Monday, flydubai confirmed on their web portal that residents with expired Dubai-issued visas could travel back until November 10. This only applies to Dubai-issued UAE resident visas which have expired or will expire between April 20 and November 9, inclusive of both dates. Residents can check their visa expiry date using GDRFA’s official website.

No extension if stayed abroad longer than 180 days

Flydubai added that the expiry date will not be extended for UAE residents with Dubai-issued visas who have stayed outside of the UAE for more than 6 months if they left before 20 October 2020.

Tourists from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Uganda

On Sunday, it was announced by flydubai on their website that travellers with tourist visas from these countries could fly to Dubai provided they have NOT entered or been inIndia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Uganda in the previous 14 days.

All other passengers

Emirates has mentioned on their travel guidelines page that all other passengers who have been in India, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda in the 14 days prior to arriving in Dubai will not be permitted to enter.

Transit passengers from these nations must complete all the requirements of their final destination and present a negative COVID 19 PCR test certificate for a test taken 72 hours or less before departure or as required by their final destination.

Also read

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Such transit passengers must also get approval or entry permission from the country which is their final destination.

Indian passport holders with UK/US/Europe visa

Emirates said on their website that Indian passport holders travelling to India via Dubai can obtain a visa on arrival in Dubai for a maximum stay of 14 days provided they:

•have a visitor visa or a green card issued by the Unites States, or

•a residence visa issued by the United Kingdom or Europe union

The airline added that the visa issued by United States, United Kingdom or Europe union has to be valid for a minimum of 6 months. Again, these passengers should not have been in India, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda in the 14 days prior to arriving in Dubai.

Dubai: Expats from six countries including India and Pakistan with expired Dubai-issued residence visas have been allowed to return to Dubai until November 10, says FlyDubai.

In a statement to Gulf News on Monday, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), Dubai said expired residence visas of some expats stranded abroad due to COVID-19, have been extended.

“The procedure will be done according to certain conditions and procedures including that the beneficiaries must be outside the country since the expiry date of residency between April 20, 2021 and November 8, 2021). GDRFA-Dubai will extend the residency visas until November 9,” the statements reads. The GDRFA also made it clear that the residency file should not be canceled at the request of the sponsor.

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30-day grace period

“In addition, when expats with expired visa enter the country, the system will give them a 30 days grace period from the date of entry to change his/her status and renew their visas.

“The GDRFA has extended the expiry date of Dubai-issued UAE resident visas for nationals of India, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda who are stranded outside of the UAE,” FlyDubai said on its updated travel advisory for passengers on its website.

Who qualifies

The airline made it clear that the rule applies to “Dubai-issued UAE resident visas which have expired or will expire between 20 April 2021 and 09 November 2021 inclusive.”

“The expiry date will, however, not be extended for UAE residents with Dubai-issued visas who have stayed outside of the UAE for more than 6 months if they left before 20 October 2020,” the airline explains.

It is still not clear whether the same rule applies to expats holding residence visa issued by other emirates such as Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. However, the airline clarifies that expats who hold valid UAE residence visa issued by an emirate other than Dubai, are required to take travel approval from uaeentry.ica.gov.ae. They can also check the validity of their visas at smartservices.ica.gov.ae.

However, passengers will be allowed to board the flight only after they take ‘travel permit’ by applying on the GDRFA website. Passengers can also check their visa status by visiting GDRFA website: amer.gdrfad.gov.ae/visa-inquiry.

Outside the country for six months

An official told Gulf News that expats who have been stranded abroad for more than six months (180 days) and their visas are still valid, can also come back to the UAE subject to approval and other conditions such as PCR test and the RAPID PCR test.

Visit visa holders

Earlier this month, the UAE has allowed passengers carrying passports of India, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Uganda with tourist visas with certain conditions. These passengers must not have entered or been to these six countries for at least for 14 days before arriving in the UAE. They must produce a negative PCR test taken from the country of their departure.

UAE residents (with a Dubai-issued visa) who have been in India, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Uganda in the previous 14 days must comply with the following conditions to enter Dubai:

A lot has changed in the travel world since the pre-pandemic days of 2019. Should you bring your vaccine card? Do you need additional travel insurance?

Here are some key travel planning and packing tips to navigate the new normal ahead of your nextand maybe first COVID-19-era trip.

Take proof of your vaccination status

International travellers will almost certainly need proof of vaccination as more countries require it and/or a negative COVID-19 test result to enter or avoid quarantine restrictions.

But even domestic travellers may need proof depending on where they’re heading. California requires attendees of indoor events with 5,000 or more people to prove they’ve been vaccinated or show a negative test result. In New York City , you’ll need proof of vaccination for indoor dining, gyms, concerts and performances, with enforcement beginning on September 13.

Restaurants and other establishments nationwide also require vaccination proof to enter. To avoid such limitations, pack your vaccine card.

If you’re hesitant to risk losing your physical copy, some apps store digital versions of your card and may work at some establishments. At the very least, save a photo of your vaccination card on your phone.

Consider purchasing travel insurance

Even if you’ve never purchased travel insurance in the past, 2021 might be your year.

Some travel credit cards include travel insurance as a benefit, which can come to your rescue in case of an unexpected illness , delayed or cancelled flights or weather -related events. This coverage could be especially useful if a COVID-19 test comes back positive and you can no longer travel.

Be aware that disinclination to travel because of COVID-19 isn’t usually a covered reason. That’s when “Cancel for Any Reason’’ coverage often offered as an upgrade on some travel insurance plans _ comes in handy. When you purchase CFAR coverage, you’ll typically get 50%-75% of the non-refundable trip purchases back, no matter the reason you cancel.

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  • UAE-India flights: Ticket rates set to drop by September once initial return rush stabilises
  • COVID-era air travel guide: How to prepare and pack for your trip

Double-check your passport early

Some countries require that passports be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip. And considering that passport processing times are slower than usual, you may want to renew your passport now.

Here’s just how bad the backlog is: As of August 2021, the US Department of State says you should expect to receive your new passport as late as 18 weeks after your application is received (it used to be about six weeks , pre-pandemic). While you can pay $60 for expedited service, it could still take up to 12 weeks to get your new passport.

Pack multiple masks

You know you have to pack a mask to get on the airplane, but you might need one throughout your trip, as some regions and businesses still have mask requirements. Consider packing extra. You might prefer an N95 mask on the plane, but if you’re planning a hard workout or heading someplace humid, pack some disposable masks you can toss when your face gets sweaty.

The bottom line

Your packing list will likely include items you want readily available in your carry-on bag, like a mask, hand sanitizer and water bottle. But there are other items you can’t just purchase at the convenience store the day before your flight you’ll need to prepare for these in advance.

An up-to-date passport is imperative for international travel. Domestic and international travelers alike might consider joining expedited security programs, getting travel insurance and taking proof of vaccination to ensure smooth sailing for the trip.

Dubai: Etihad airways updated travel rules for passengers arriving from ‘green list’ and other destinations on its website.

Abu Dhabi’s flagship carrier said that travelers can enter Abu Dhabi if they are a UAE national or resident, or if they are eligible for a visa on arrival. The carrier’s website lists visa on arrival for travelers arriving from 70 countries, including Canada, China, Maldives, France, UK and US.

These passengers do not need to apply for a visa before traveling to UAE. “When you land in Abu Dhabi, simply make your way to immigration to receive a visa when you arrive,” Etihad’s website says.

Passengers travelling from India will only be permitted to enter the UAE if they are:

  • A UAE National, Golden/Silver Visa holder or diplomat
  • A fully vaccinated resident of the UAE – you must have proof of having received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine within the UAE no less than 14 days before travel
  • Medical personnel, education sector workers or students studying in the UAE
  • Travelling for medical reasons
  • A federal government agency worker

However, Indian citizens that hold a US visitor visa or green card are eligible for visa on arrival in Abu Dhabi. This also applies to Indian nationals who have a UK or EU residence valid for at least 6 months. Their passports must have at least six months’ validity.

Those who have been in Nigeria or South Africa in the past 14 days will not be permitted to enter the UAE. This does not apply to:

  • Nationals of the UAE and their immediate family members
  • Guests with a diplomatic or an official passport traveling on duty with an official letter from the UAE MOFA

Domestic helpers allowed

On its website, Etihad added that domestic helpers are permitted to enter when traveling with a GCC national sponsor or a direct family member of the sponsor.

Travelling to Dubai or other emirate

If you are a tourist travelling to Dubai or other emirates via Abu Dhabi, your visa must be issued for Abu Dhabi, unless you are entering from a green list country.

Kenya, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey and you will transfer directly to another emirate after arriving in Abu Dhabi – you must travel by Etihad Coach or Etihad Chauffeur

Entry restrictions and requirements

Other nationals

• Nationals of the Republic of Korea traveling under the Fast Track programme and arriving at Abu Dhabi must have a pre-approval to enter and an ‘Isolation Exemption Certificate’.

• Nationals of Indonesia traveling under the Safe Travel Corridor programme must have an entry permit and a return ticket.

• Nationals of Qatar will be permitted entry into the UAE without permission or entry permit as long as they comply with the precautionary and preventive measures in place.

Long-term visa

Those with a cancelled resident visa or an expired tourist visa currently residing in UAE can apply for a ‘Long Term Tourist Visa Single Entry’.

“You can apply for the tourist visa whilst you are in the UAE to avoid any fines or legal implications,” said the airline’s website.

Once the visa is approved, the resident or visitor will need to complete the status change application at Etihad Airways Headquarters in Abu Dhabi. Visa processing should take three to four days.

All pre-arranged entry visas (including new residence visas) issued before 17 March 2020 have now been invalidated and will not be accepted for entry into the UAE.

Green list update

The following countries will be removed from the green list on August 18

• Armenia

• Austria

• Israel

• Italy

• Maldives

• United States of America

COVID-19 test requirements will vary depending on visa status and country of origin, said Etihad.

Sharjah Mosque, commonly called Sharjah Masjid by residents, was inaugurated by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah in 2019.

The mosque is the largest mosque in Sharjah, edging out King Faisal Mosque from that position. King Faisal Mosque was inaugurated in 1987, and can accommodate over 16,000 worshippers.

The Sharjah Mosque, on the other hand, can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers with an inside capacity of more than 5,000 worshippers. The front hall and side lobbies can accommodate more than 6,000 worshippers while the mosque’s outer yards can host a further 13,500 worshippers.

The landmark mosque is open to both Muslims and non-Muslims, and was built at a cost of Dh300 million.

For visitors, the mosque features dedicated spaces and paths for non-Muslims, a museum, gift shop, cafeteria, open yards, fountains and waterfalls. It also houses a large library rich in Islamic and original cultural references.

The mosque is located near the intersection of Maliha Road and the Emirates Road in the Tay area, stretches over a total area of two million square feet.

According to available information, the timings of the mosque are from 4.30am to 6am, and 11.40am to 9pm. 

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