The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a prime destination for thousands of Kenyans who travel to this Gulf country for myriad reasons among them business, work while others simply want to soak in the prestige of Dubai, Abu Dhabi among others.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic across the world, travel to Emirates has changed a lot. There are a host of requirements one must meet before being allowed to fly into the country or transit.
A week ago, the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) announced the expiry of a grace period granted to Kenyans and other citizens whose visit visas had expired after March and were unable to renew them due to the coronavirus pandemic that shut down the country.
They are now required to regularize their residency status by Friday, September 11.
If not, they have an option to leave the country before then or face penalties for overstaying.
“Tourists and visit visa holders will incur overstay fines of Dh200 for the first day and Dh100 for each day thereafter, as well as a Dh100 service charge,” ICA stated according to The National.
But what exactly is required for any Kenyan who wishes to travel back home at this time when coronavirus has shaken the entire world?
As a measure to contain the spread of the virus at the airports and while travelling, all passengers leaving UAE are required to take a COVID-19 PCR test 96 hours before departure. They must also provide the test certificate at check-in desks to ascertain that they COVID-19 negative.
Children below 12 years and exhibit some form of disability are exempted from taking the coronavirus test.
Travellers will only be allowed to use the smart gates at Dubai’s Terminal 3 airport when scanning a passport, and not using their Emirates ID.
Upon arrival in Kenya, one must produce a COVID-19 certificate from a PCR test to ascertain that they are coronavirus-free and also fill in COVID-19 Travellers Health Surveillance. There is no quarantine for those who pass the screening test and produce a certificate showing they are negative.
For those planning to travel to the UAE from Kenya, they must complete the Health Declaration Form at the arrival airport to enable public health officers to contact a person easily if they were exposed to the virus. All information must be accurately and correctly filled.
All passengers flying to Dubai must take a PCR COVID-19 test 96 hours before travel and a certificate issued to this effect. Digital certificates are not allowed at all.
However, those travelling to Abu Dhabi must take a test on arrival and proceed on a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine regardless of their test results. Also, some Abu Dhabi residents are asked to wear a smart bracelet for the duration of the quarantine period but all travellers must download the Al Hosn app.
Tourists are still not allowed into Abu Dhabi.
Travellers who hold Dubai residence visa and are flying back to Dubai from Kenya must have return approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA). Additionally, they are required to submit a dully-filled form via GDRFA website or through Emirates. Once it is approved, a GDRFA reference number is emailed back.
Worth to note is that travellers from some destinations may be required to take a second COVID-19 test upon arrival to UAE. If you test negative, you are allowed to proceed with your plans while those who test positive are placed under self-isolation. Everyone is advised to download the Covid-19 – DXB Smart App.