The United Arab Emirates has announced it will resume issuing visas to all tourists fully vaccinated against Covid-19 from Monday, a month before Dubai hosts the delayed Expo 2020 trade fair.
The move comes amid a drop in coronavirus infections in the oil-rich Gulf country after it reported less than 1,000 cases per day last week for the first time in months.
The UAE’s decision to reopen its doors to tourists from all countries was taken in order “to achieve sustainable recovery and economic growth”, the official WAM news agency reported on Saturday.
Those eligible would have to be fully inoculated with one of the Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation, which include AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
“The decision applies to citizens of all countries, including those arriving from previously banned countries,” WAM said.
“Passengers arriving on tourist visas must [undergo] a mandatory PCR test at the airport,” it added.
While life in the country has largely returned to normal amid the Covid pandemic, UAE continues to enforce strict rules on wearing masks and social distancing.
Dubai was last year counting on the six-month Dubai Expo 2020 — delayed a year by the health crisis and now set to open in October — to attract millions of visitors and boost the economy.
Heavily reliant on tourism, the emirate was one of the first destinations to open its doors to travellers, accepting tourists in July last year, just a few months after the pandemic took hold.
Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, has been more cautious, opening up to some visitors only in December.
The UAE has so far recorded more than 715,000 cases of Covid-19 infection, including 2,036 deaths.