Covid in UAE: Families jubilant as Abu Dhabi eases entry regulations

Abu Dhabi - They had reduced the frequency of their travels over the past year due to stringent border testing requirements

By Nandini Sircar, SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sat 18 Sep 2021, 2:08 PM

Last updated: Sat 18 Sep 2021, 2:34 PM

Families with loved ones on either side of the Abu Dhabi border have expressed great relief after the capital eased pre-entry Covid-19 testing requirements on Saturday.

Scores of families Khaleej Times reached out to have said they had reduced the frequency of their visits to Abu Dhabi over the past year due to stringent border testing requirements.

Adilatul Salmiah Abdullah, a Malaysian expatriate in Abu Dhabi, said, “We are so relieved to hear this news. Frankly, getting the PCR tests done, not just once but so many times if one travels from Dubai, seemed like too much of a hassle; so, my family and I stopped crossing the border after those rules went into effect.”

The resident added, “Although the cost of PCR testing had been reduced, the idea didn’t seem practical. So, the last time we visited Dubai was in 2020 — and that too, because we had to redeem a voucher or else it would have expired.”

Adilatul said her husband is especially happy with the news. “He works for Adnoc and had bought tickets to Expo 2020, because his company was offering them at a discounted price. Now, we can freely travel to Dubai multiple times to attend the mega event as well as for other reasons.”

Some families had even shifted residences from Abu Dhabi to Dubai due to the testing requirements — like Indian expatriates Tamara Syed and Rizwan Taj.

Rizwan, an aviation expert and pilot trainer at Airways Aviation in Dubai, and his wife Tamara, who works as a marketing manager at a Dubai-based law firm, used to live with their family in Abu Dhabi. Commuting to Dubai was, therefore, a regular affair.

Recently, however, the couple decided to shift to Dubai due to the strict PCR testing protocols. “It was getting hectic to take PCR tests constantly. We had taken over 15 PCR tests in the last few months alone,” Tamara said.

Rizwan noted the couple is sorry to have to continue living away from the family, as they'd already signed the tenancy contract for a year. “We have to make Dubai our home for the next one year, but will travel to Abu Dhabi regularly now that the restrictions have been withdrawn.”

Abu Dhabi resident and American expatriate Naeema Zaki was all praise for the UAE's handling of the Covid-19 situation. “Living here has always felt very safe. From the beginning of the pandemic, the UAE has always taken steps to keep everyone safe. They imposed movement restrictions when they had to and loosened the strings when the time was right. This news makes me feel like everything is going back to normal.”


>> Covid-19 in Abu Dhabi: No electronic wristband required for international travellers, close contacts in quarantine

She added, “Given that a lot of people are vaccinated, including children, and there are a lot of protocols and procedures in place whenever one is infected, it’s no longer scary. We now know how to live with Covid-19 and live as normally as possible.”

The relieved expat said, “This is both a progressive and safe country. I do trust the government’s decision and I am feeling really good about it. I am so happy.”

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