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All you need to know about GCC’s travel requirements

How do you travel from and to the GCC, if you’re a resident or non-resident, on vacation or just visiting, during these strange COVID-19 dominated times? What documents do you need and what awaits you?

Fully vaccinated international tourists were allowed to enter Saudi from August 1 All travelers arriving in the Sultanate of Oman are required to have international health insurance A robust set of COVID-19-related international travel restrictions remains in force in the UAE

How do you travel from and to the GCC, if you’re a resident or non-resident, on vacation or just visiting, during these strange COVID-19 dominated times? What documents do you need and what awaits you?

We look at each country with the latest we know.

Saudi

Saudi Arabia’s state news agency SPA reported in late July that the country might be set to impose tough measures on citizens who break the law by visiting “red list” countries including India, South Africa, and the UAE, which could have them “banned from travel for three years.”

Saudi’s red-listed countries currently include the UAE, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Belarus, India, and Vietnam.

Fully vaccinated international tourists were allowed to enter Saudi from August 1, without the need to quarantine.

Kuwait

Kuwait also announced that from August 1, only fully vaccinated citizens will be allowed to travel abroad, as reported by Reuters. Exemptions will be made for children, pregnant women, and those with medical conditions.

All arrivals will have to be home quarantined for seven days unless they take a COVID-19 PCR test inside Kuwait that comes out negative.

Kuwait’s aviation authority said that all arrivals in the country must have a negative COVID test before they board their flights.  

Oman

Oman has already barred travelers from several countries from entering the Sultanate until further notice. The red-listed countries currently include: The Republic of Sudan, the Federal Republic of Brazil, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Federal Republic of Tanzania, the Republic of Sierra Leone, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of India, the United Kingdom, Islamic Republic Pakistan, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and the Republic of Philippines, the Kingdom of Thailand, Malaysia, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Indonesia, the Republic of Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Tunisia, the State of Libya, the Republic of Argentina, and the Republic of Colombia.

Arrivals from any other country if they have passed through any of the aforementioned countries during the previous 14 days preceding their request to enter the Sultanate.

The institutional quarantine will apply to all non-Omani arrivals to the Sultanate, including families with children under the age of 18, effective  May 11th, 2021.  

The requirements of COVID-19 PCR for all passengers arriving at the Sultanate:

All travelers coming to the Sultanate on long international flights (with a period of no less than 8 hours, including transit), are required to submit of pre-travel negative COVID-19 PCR test within (96 hours) and within 72 hours for shorter flights.

When arriving in Oman from any country, passengers will be required to undergo another PCR test at Oman Airports, however prior to arrival, they:

  • Should pre-book for the PCR test through the Sahala platform 
  • Book a hotel for institutional quarantine through the Sahala platform for non-Omani arrivals
  • Download (Tarrasud+) application.
  • After taking the test, and upon arrival must quarantine for 7 days, and wear Tarrasud+ bracelet.
  • After quarantining for 7 days, they are required to take a new PCR test on the 8th day, and if the test result is negative the quarantine period will end.

The test results will be available within 24 hours. All travelers arriving in the Sultanate of Oman are required to have international health insurance covering the cost of COVID-19 treatment valid for one month, except for citizens, GCC nationals, and passengers with free treatment cards.

Children below 16 years old are exempt from the PCR test and Tarrasud+ bracelet requirements.

Bahrain

Bahrain updated its travel curbs on July 13 by adding more countries on its red list, banning the entry of travelers from these countries.  

The red-listed countries currently include the Dominican, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

Passengers who passed through the banned countries need to have a 14-day quarantine in non-prohibited countries, except for Bahrain’s citizens and residents.

All passengers, vaccinated or non-vaccinated, arriving at the Kingdom of Bahrain, aged 6 or above must undergo two PCR tests which will take place on arrival and on the 10th day of their stay.

Passengers who have received a single dose or are not vaccinated must present a negative test certificate with a QR code for a PCR test administered within 48 hours of their departure. They must also undergo two PCR tests which will take place on arrival and on the 10th day of their stay.

Passengers must quarantine for 10 days in their own homes or at a licensed quarantine facility approved by the National Health Regulatory Authority.

Qatar  

Qatar has reopened its borders for those international travelers who are fully vaccinated and has been taken 14 days prior to traveling.  

These travelers will not be quarantined as part of the country’s updated travel policy. However, the vaccinated passengers still need to take a PCR test before arriving in Qatar.

The new policy classifies countries into three categories: greenyellow, and red list.

A quarantine policy for each category will be applied to unvaccinated travelers arriving in Qatar.

All passengers coming to Qatar will also have to pre-register on the “Ehteraz” website and attach all the required documents no less than 12 hours before arrival.

Qatar also updated procedures for travelers coming from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, are as follows:

1- Travelers who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 in the State of Qatar, coming from one of these countries, are subject to a hotel quarantine for a period of two days, and the quarantine period will end after obtaining a negative PCR test result on the second day.

2- All other travelers coming from these countries are subject to hotel quarantine for a period of 10 days.

UAE

A robust set of COVID-19-related international travel restrictions remains in force in the UAE.

Regulations can vary significantly based on a number of factors, including the traveler’s vaccination status, country of origin, and the constituent emirate via which the individual is entering the UAE.

All air travelers must present a negative PCR test result before departing for the UAE. Under most circumstances, the test must have been taken within 72 hours prior to travel. An additional PCR test may also be required on arrival in the UAE.

Emirates Airline has extended the suspension of its flights from Nigeria and South Africa to the UAE till at least ‪August 7.

Those who have traveled through South Africa and Nigeria in the last 14 days will not also be allowed on any Emirates flights bound for Dubai.

The airline also extended the suspension of inbound passenger flights from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka to the UAE until at least August 7.

The UAE then lifted the ban on entry of passengers from India and five other countries from 5 August, the National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority (NCEMA) said last Tuesday.

While restrictions on travel from India to UAE are still in place, those Indians who have a valid residency permit and are fully vaccinated, at least 14 days prior to the travel, are included in the exempted category. 

The UAE government also said that unvaccinated people in certain job categories can seek permission to return from the same date as well.

The categories include medical workers, teachers at schools and universities in the Emirates, students, residents with extenuating circumstances, people undergoing medical treatment in the UAE and people who work for federal or local government agencies.