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UAE: Many British expats ready to fly home, but still awaiting vaccine details

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Filed on September 22, 2021
Reuters file photo

It's the best news ever, one expat said.

Many Emiratis and British expatriates are looking forward to travelling to the UK after October 4, once the new travel reforms kick in.

UK authorities on Wednesday announced that vaccination certificates issued by the UAE will be considered valid. Starting October 4, travellers from the UAE can enter the UK if they show proof of two Covid jabs taken in the Emirates.

Given that the status of UAE-UK travel has faced immense instability since December 2020, several nationals and expatriates are now relieved and have started making plans to head over to Britain ahead of the winter holidays.

WHAT WENT BEFORE:

>>Covid-19: UAE residents, Indian leaders slam UK's new travel policy

>> UK says it will simplify international travel rules

British expat Jane Boyce said: “This is the best news ever, especially for my daughter who can now travel back to the UK.”

Chris Ayris, a senior project financial controller based in Dubai, told Khaleej Times he hasn’t travelled to the UK since the pandemic struck. Pre-Covid, he would travel to the country at least twice a year and his parents would visit him in Dubai once a year.

“I planned to travel in July and August, but then, the UK extended its lockdown and I had to cancel,” said Ayris. He has made plans to fly his parents into Dubai instead of travelling to the UK to meet them.

“The last time I visited the UK was in March 2020. I flew back for a funeral. I saw my parents, brother and his fiancé, but I couldn’t see any other people. I wanted to see my grandparents, but they were a bit concerned at the time with Covid-19, so I missed them,” he added. Ayris said he is ‘quad-vaxxed’, having taken two doses of Sinopharm and Pfizer-BioNTech each.

Ayris also said that the UK’s decision to keep the UAE on the amber list was frustrating as travellers would have to go into quarantine for 10 days and then pay for a test to be released in five days. “They (authorities) said we could only avoid quarantine if we had been vaccinated in the UK, US or EU, which of course we haven’t,” he added.

The expat had plans to travel to the UK in September, however, he decided against it since he couldn't take more than a week off work at the moment. “I cancelled my latest trip plans because I didn’t want to go home for seven days, spend five days in quarantine and then another day waiting for my PCR results and then have one day outside before flying back.”

Are all vaccines accepted?

Though the travel restrictions have already been eased, many expatriates still have questions, particularly about the list of approved vaccines.

Kityo Emmanuel asked on social media: “This is so great, but I am still confused as the UAE uses different types of vaccines, including the Chinese-made Sinopharm, which is what I have taken. Am I among those considered ‘vaxxed’ travellers in the UK?”

Lisa Holness also asked: “Could you please clarify, does this relate to all types of vaccines that have been administered in the UAE? My husband has had three doses of Sinopharm whilst in the UAE! Can he come home without quarantining after October 4?”

A total of five vaccines are distributed in the Emirates, Pfizer- BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sputnik and Sinopharm. It is not immediately clear whether all these vaccines are acceptable in the UK.

Travel experts have told Khaleej Times that more than tourists and corporate travellers, many of those currently planning trips to the UK are students who wanted to attend classes in their universities, and families and friends who wish to see their loved ones.

Sophia Tamang, a UAE-based travel expert, said: “At the moment, people are still applying for their visas and awaiting clarity on the processes. Since travel has just opened up, most of the people who are travelling are returning to meet with their loved ones."

“There is an anticipation that the demand could pick up in December, however, the travel regulations in this sector has always been very unpredictable. It is constantly subject to change.”

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for over ten years. For Khaleej Times, she covers NRI affairs, civil aviation, and immigration issues among other things. She completed her BA in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008 and is currently pursuing her MA in Leadership and Innovation in Contemporary Media at the American University in Dubai. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves food, and is mom to an over-enthusiastic Labrador retriever. Tweet at her @shootsprintrite.





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