Expats say UK move to keep UAE on red list 'frustrating'

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AFP file
AFP file

Dubai - The UK decision has severely affected the travel plans over 120,000 British expats in the UAE.


Suneeti Ahuja Kohli

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Published: Thu 29 Jul 2021, 7:01 PM

Britishers in the UAE as well as the UK have expressed disappointment at the UK government’s decision to keep the UAE on the red list despite the high rate of vaccination in the UAE and low rate of Covid positive cases.

“I had high hopes that the UK will review its decision and take the UAE off the red list, but to our dismay there has been no change,” said UK resident Mubasshira S. “I am working full time in the UK, and unlike before, I am now unable to come to the UAE to visit my family. I cannot take 3-4 weeks leave from full-time work. I was hoping that if the UAE is off the list, I would make a quick visit to Dubai and meet my family.”

Emirates airline’s divisional vice-president Richard Jewsbury also aired his annoyance at this decision in an interview to UK-based PA Media. “The data coming out of the UAE is very good,” he said, adding that the UK’s decision to keep the UAE on the red list is “frustrating”.

The UK had placed the UAE among the red list of countries in the latter half of January this year when the number of Covid-positive cases in the UAE hovered above 3,000 a day. Travellers from red list countries need to undergo a 10-day quarantine.

The situation has since improved dramatically. Today, around 70 per cent of the UAE population has been fully vaccinated and the number of daily new cases has more than halved since the start of the year. The weekly rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the UAE for the week ending July 22 was 124, compared with 417 in the UK, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

“It’s been overwhelming and very stressful. I’m sure many have felt the same,” said Nisha Mohamed, a science teacher and a resident of the UAE for six years. Nisha flew out of Dubai in July at the start of the summer vacation. She spent 11 days in Crete, Greece, before boarding a flight for London, to visit her family in the UK. “I plan to return on August 12, which would hopefully give me sufficient time to quarantine and resume work when the next school session begins on August 29,” said Nisha, who is fully vaccinated.

“I made sure it (my vaccination) was complete before the summer holidays, only to be disappointed that it was not recognised as it was not taken under the NHS.”

The UAE has historically been a popular leisure and business destination for the UK. Pre-Covid, the UAE-UK air travel corridor was among the busiest in the world. An estimated 120,000 Britishers call the UAE their second home and this decision of the UK government to put the UAE in the red list has severely affected their travel plans.

“I travelled to the UK at least twice a year during kids’ summer and winter breaks. But we haven’t been able to do so in the last two years. I am so homesick, and we have been taking frequent holidays to nearby areas, but it isn’t the same. I long to see my folks,” said Poppy F., a resident of Dubai for more than a decade.


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