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United Arab Emirates opens door to vaccinated tourists

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In a move that came after more than a year of uncertainty, closing, and opening of borders and last-minute restrictions, the United Arab Emirates has finally opened its doors to all tourists who have been fully vaccinated.

The measure, which attempts to rebuild the tourism sector to its pre-pandemic levels, has been welcomed by travelers.

Emirates News Agency, the official state news outlet, reports that the recent decision to relax visa requirements applies to citizens from all countries. This includes people who have a visa for the UAE and people from previously-banned countries like India, Pakistan, and Nigeria.

The UAE government has noted that the new rules will come with some requirements.
One of the most important rules is that travelers need to be vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine, which is currently offered by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac, and Sinopharm.

Emirates are no strangers to such vaccines, as they had one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world along with Israel, Bahrain, and the United Kingdom. In the United Arab Emirates, 80% of the population has been fully vaccinated, and 90% of locals have received at least one dose.

At the airport, travelers must take a Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

The new rules, which became effective on August 30, will boost the economy, especially since travel and tourism make up more than 12 percent of the nation’s GDP.

As the government noted, the new rules “… come as part of the country’s strategy to create a balance between public health and the activities of vital sectors, and in support of the national efforts to achieve sustainable recovery and economic growth.”

The United Arab Emirates are also gearing up to host one of their biggest events: the Dubai Expo 2020. Even though it was delayed by more than a year due to the pandemic, this world expo will open in October and run until March of next year.

More than 25 million people are expected to attend Dubai Expo over the course of 182 days. Participating countries will have their own pavilions, where they will also have the opportunity to experience immersive experiences in various industries.

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Besides the 2020 Expo, incoming tourists are treated to a multitude of things to do in the United Arab Emirates all year-’round. It’s no wonder why the country had almost 17 million visitors in 2019!

For starters, the tallest building in the world — as well as a major tourist attraction in its own right — is located in the UAE. The 828-meter Burj Khalifa fits everything in its grand size, from a colossal shopping mall on the ground floor to apartments, offices, a luxury hotel, and even an observation deck.

Even though the Burj Khalifa may get the majority of visitors, an equally stunning attraction is located just meters away. The famous singing fountains of Dubai symbolize the beauty and wealth of the country, and are a must-see for any visitor — especially during the evening!

Although its ‘next-door neighbor’ is the tallest building in the world, travelers can bet that the singing fountains are equally impressive: the height of the fountain jets can reach up to 150 meters during a show! The powerful acoustic system plays songs in multiple languages, and there are about 20 ‘performances’ per day (without repetition!). Like many other projects in Dubai, the singing fountain was one of the most expensive fountains in the world, coming in at a cost of $218 million USD.

Although everyone has heard of the Louvre in France, what many might not know is that it has a satellite museum in the United Arab Emirates! Indeed, the Louvre Abu Dhabi (as it’s called) contains more than 8,000 square meters of galleries and is the largest art museum in the Arabian Peninsula.

Similar to its big sister in Paris, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi has a gorgeously constructed facade. All eight layers are decorated in the form of patterned ornaments that let in light and leave distinctive shadows on the walls and floor.

Another interesting fact about the museum is its layout: similar to the winding streets of a typical medina (market), travelers are treated to 55 different buildings in the Louvre, of which 23 are art galleries. The galleries located are presented in chronological order, starting from prehistoric times and going up to modern art.

Last but certainly not least, those traveling with families or small children are bound to love Atlantis. This hotel is one of the most well-known symbols of Dubai thanks to its distinct shape, Aquaventure water park, and an aquarium that’s home to more than 65,000 marine animals.

Although the pandemic is far from over, countries such as the United Arab Emirates are opening their borders and welcoming tourists once again.

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