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UAE opens travel to those vaccinated from Monday

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced that it will resume issuing visas to all tourists fully vaccinated against the coronavirus from Monday.

This development comes amid a drop in coronavirus infections in the country after it reported less than 1,000 cases per day last week for the first time in months.

The UAE’s decision to reopen its doors to tourists from all countries was taken in order “to achieve sustainable recovery and economic growth”, the official WAM news agency reported on Saturday.

Those eligible would have to be fully inoculated with one of the Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization, which include AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm and Sinovac.

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“The decision applies to citizens of all countries, including those arriving from previously banned countries,” WAM said.

“Passengers arriving on tourist visas must take a mandatory PCR test at the airport,” it added.

The UAE is made up of seven emirates including the capital Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

While living in the country has largely returned to normal amid the Covid pandemic, it continues to enforce strict rules on wearing masks and social distancing.

Dubai was last year counting on the six-month Dubai Expo 2020 — delayed a year by the health crisis and now set to open in October – to attract millions of visitors and boost the economy.

Heavily reliant on tourism, the emirate was one of the first destinations to open its doors to travellers, accepting tourists in July last year, just a few months after the pandemic took hold.

Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, has been more cautious, opening up to some visitors only in December.

Dubai had imposed levels of travel restrictions, forcing travellers to opt for other destinations.

Since March, scheduled flights between Nigeria and the UAE have been stopped following a diplomatic row over COVID-19 protocol.

The UAE authorities had instructed Nigerian travellers at the Lagos and Abuja airports to take another PCR test on arrival in Dubai.

But Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation, criticised the decision and termed it “discriminatory profiling” of Nigerian travellers.

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