Guidelines for foreign tourists entering Dubai

News Network
July 6,2020

Dubai, July 6: Even as the world’s one of the most sought after tourist destinations is gearing up to welcome foreign tourists from July 7, the authorities have taken necessary measures to prevent the spread of covid-19.

If the foreign tourists want to avoid self-isolation after landing in Dubai International Airport, they have to fetch covid-negative certificates from their home country. The certificate ought to have been issued up to 96 hours prior to the travel.

Those without a cvid-negative certificate, however, will need to undergo a PCR test on arrival at the Dubai airports and self-isolate until they receive their negative results.

"If passengers opt to take the PCR test on arrival in Dubai, they must self-isolate until test results are received. If the test result is negative, passengers can leave the hotel and enjoy the trip as normal. However, if the test result is positive, passengers are asked to follow the advice of the Dubai Health Authority and self-isolate," Emirates said in a statement.

Budget carrier flydubai said if a passenger tests positive for Covid-19, he/she would need to observe a 14-day quarantine. The airline also advised passengers to comply with all the precautionary Covid-19 measures in place in Dubai "including wearing a mask, observing social distancing and washing your hands regularly".

Tourists with Covid-19 symptoms

* If a traveller is suspected to have Covid-19 symptoms, Dubai Airports has the right to re-test to ensure the tourist is free of the virus

*It is mandatory for Covid-positive tourists to isolate themselves at an institutional facility provided by the government for 14 days at their own expense.

Other requirements

*Travel insurance: Tourists must have a travel insurance with Covid-19 cover or declare that they would bear the costs for treatment and isolation if required. "Bring an insurance certificate stating Covid-19 coverage to present at check-in," Emirates said.

*Visa: Referring to visa requirements, Emirates said: "Depending on your nationality you can get a visa on arrival, or you can apply for your visit visa from Dubai Immigration before you travel."

*Health Declaration Form: Tourists need to complete the form that states they are free from Covid-19 symptoms. This must be done before embarking.

*Tracing app: Tourists must download the Covid-19 DXB app and register details. "This is critically important since it facilitates easy coordination and communication with the health authorities if tourists experience Covid-19 symptoms," Dubai authorities had said earlier.


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Pilgrims converge on Mount Arafat for peak of hajj

July 31,2020

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Mount Arafat, July 30: Muslim pilgrims converged Thursday on Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat for the climax of this year's hajj, the smallest in modern times and a sharp contrast to the massive crowds of previous years.

A tight security cordon has been erected all around the foot of the rocky hill outside Mecca, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy.

Pilgrims, donning masks and observing social distancing, were brought in buses from neighbouring Mina, state television showed, as Saudi authorities impose measures to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.

They were subject to temperature checks and attended a sermon -- which state media said was translated into 10 languages -- before they set off on the climb to the summit for hours of Koran recitals and prayers to atone for their sins.

The scene was strikingly different to last year's ritual when a sea of pilgrims ascended Mount Arafat, marshalled by tens of thousands of stewards in a bid to prevent any crushes.

After sunset prayers, pilgrims will make their way down Mount Arafat to Muzdalifah, another holy site where they will sleep under the stars to prepare for the final stage of hajj, the symbolic "stoning of the devil".

It takes place on Friday and also marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice.

The hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime, is usually one of the world's largest religious gatherings.

But only up to 10,000 people already residing in the kingdom will participate in this year's ritual, compared with 2019's gathering of some 2.5 million from around the world.

"You are not our guests but those of God, the custodian of the two holy mosques (Saudi Arabia's King Salman) and the nation," Hajj Minister Mohammad Benten said in a video released by the media ministry on Wednesday.

Security cordon

A security cordon has been thrown around the holy sites to prevent any security breaches, an interior ministry spokesman said.

Riyadh faced strong criticism in 2015 when some 2,300 worshippers were killed in the deadliest stampede in the gathering's history.

But this year, those risks are greatly reduced by the much smaller crowd.

The pilgrims have all been tested for the virus, and foreign journalists were barred from this year's hajj, usually a huge global media event.

As part of the rites completed over five days in the holy city of Mecca and its surroundings, the pilgrims converged on Mount Arafat after spending the night in Mina.

A district of Mecca, Mina sits in a narrow valley surrounded by rocky mountains, and is transformed each year into a vast encampment for pilgrims.

They began the hajj on Wednesday with their first "tawaf", the circumambulation of the Kaaba, a large structure in Mecca’s Grand Mosque towards which Muslims around the world pray.

The Kaaba is draped in a black cloth embroidered in gold with Koranic verses and known as the kiswa, which is changed each year during the pilgrimage.

Pilgrims were brought inside the mosque in small batches, walking along paths marked on the floor, in sharp contrast to the normal sea of humanity that swirls around the Kaaba during hajj.

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Economies of Arab countries to shrink by 5.7% amid pandemic: UN report

News Network
July 23,2020

Beirut, Jul 23: The pandemic will exact a heavy toll on Arab countries, causing an economic contraction of 5.7% this year, pushing millions into poverty and compounding the suffering of those affected by armed conflict, a U.N. report said Thursday.

The U.N.'s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia expects some Arab economies to shrink by up to 13%, amounting to an overall loss for the region of $152 billion.

Another 14.3 million people are expected to be pushed into poverty, raising the total number to 115 million — a quarter of the total Arab population, it said. More than 55 million people in the region relied on humanitarian aid before the COVID-19 crisis, including 26 million who were forcibly displaced.

Arab countries moved quickly to contain the virus in March by imposing stay-at-home orders, restricting travel and banning large gatherings, including religious pilgrimages.

Arab countries as a whole have reported more than 830,000 cases and at least 14,717 deaths. That equates to an infection rate of 1.9 per 1,000 people and 17.6 deaths per 1,000 cases, less than half the global average of 42.6 deaths, according to the U.N.

But the restrictions exacted a heavy economic toll, and authorities have been forced to ease them in recent weeks. That has led to a surge in cases in some countries, including Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

Wealthy Gulf countries were hit by the pandemic at a time of low oil prices, putting added strain on already overstretched budgets. Middle-income countries like Jordan and Egypt have seen tourism vanish overnight and a drop in remittances from citizens working abroad.

War-torn Libya and Syria have thus far reported relatively small outbreaks. But in Yemen, where five years of civil war had already generated the world's worst humanitarian crisis, the virus is running rampant in the government-controlled south while rebels in the north conceal its toll.

Rola Dashti, the head of the U.N. commission, said Arab countries need to “turn this crisis into an opportunity” and address longstanding issues, including weak public institutions, economic inequality and over-reliance on fossil fuels.

“We need to invest in survival, survival of people and survival of businesses,” she said.


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Children under 12 unable to fly back alone to UAE from India

July 14,2020

Dubai, Jul 14: The UAE-based parents of children under 12 stranded in India are in a tight spot with multiple airlines refusing to accept unaccompanied minors.

Starting July 12, Indians wanting to return to the UAE have been given a 15-day window to travel back on the condition that they have valid residency permits. They also have to produce a negative Covid-19 test result.

But parents of minors said they are feeling helpless as children are unable to avail of the travel opportunity despite having return permits.

"It has been more than three months since my daughter has been stuck in India. We have GDRFA approval for her but the airlines are not accepting her booking, saying she is under 12," Poonam Sapre, a Dubai-based mother, told Khaleej Times.

Her daughter Eva Sapre, 10, is in Hyderabad and is awaiting a reunion with her parents.

"She is just 10 and it has already taken an emotional toll on her. She is eager to come back and is asking me every day about her return. This is so frustrating."

Barring Emirates and Etihad, other airlines including flydubai, Air Arabia and Air India Express are not accepting unaccompanied minors. With India extending the travel freeze till July 31, normal flights are yet to resume and only special flights are allowed between India and UAE under a bilateral agreement.

Sapre said only flydubai is flying the Hyderabad-Dubai route, and the carrier has restrictions on minors travelling alone. "My daughter is too young to fly through indirect routes," claims the mother.

When Khaleej Times reached out to the airlines for comment, they confirmed that such rules on unaccompanied minors were already in place even before Covid-19 travel restrictions came into effect.

Another Dubai-based distressed parent, who did not want to be named, said her eight-year-old son is in Kerala and is unable to fly due to airline policies on unaccompanied minors.

"I called up Air India Express and they said this has been their rule even before the Covid-19 outbreak. I am appealing to them to re-consider and make an exception during these trying times so that our children can come home safely," she said.

Faced with this eventuality, some parents are forced to fly out of the UAE so they can accompany their children on the flight back home.

An Indian mother, who is currently in Mumbai, said she flew out of Dubai on Monday morning solely for the purpose of bringing back her twin daughters, aged 10.

"I had no choice. Ideally, they could have travelled together, but under these circumstances I thought it best to get them with me personally," said the mother.


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