Transportation: United Arab Emirates suspends all visas to foreigners starting March 17 to stem the spread of COVID-19. Further travel restrictions likely.

This alert affects United Arab Emirates

This alert began 14 Mar 2020 22:35 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Start Time/Date: March 17
  • Impact: Entry and travel restrictions; disruptions to flight services, health screenings; likely increased immigration wait times

Summary
The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) in the United Arab Emirates announced March 14 that it would suspend all visas to foreigners except those with diplomatic passports starting March 17. The measure does not affect individuals who have already been issued visas. Additionally, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) will suspend all inbound and outbound flights with Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq effective from March 17 until further notice. The newly introduced measures are intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Emirati authorities introduced a series of other measures; major tourist sites and cultural venues, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum and the World Ferrari World theme park will be shut down from March 15-31. The emirate of Dubai has stated that it will cancel all events planned in March and has asked hotels to stop hosting weddings through the month of March.

Etihad Airways - the second largest airline in the United Arab Emirates - temporarily suspended all flights to and from Saudi Arabia to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) March 9.

On March 3, Emirati authorities indefinitely extended an existing ban suspending flights with Iran as part of the nation's effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The GCAA had initially suspended all passenger and cargo flights to and from Iran for one week beginning Feb. 25. Authorities also suspended passenger ferry services with Iran from Feb. 27 until further notice. Commercial ships entering UAE's ports are required to provide a statement detailing the health status of their crew 72 hours before arrival. These measures follow a ban on Emirati nationals traveling to Iran and Thailand. Emirati citizens currently in Iran or Thailand have been requested to contact the UAE embassy or the Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. It is currently unclear whether non-Emirati nationals traveling from Iran or Thailand will be denied entry into the country.

The World Health Organization has declared the ongoing outbreak of the virus to be a pandemic. COVID-19 originated in China's Wuhan City in Hubei Province.

Advice
Individuals affected by the restrictions should postpone planned travel. Follow all official immigration and health screening instructions. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.