Restrictions on direct flights between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates have been lifted after a long-standing disagreement between both governments over the use of rapid COVID-19 tests.
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates announced this on Saturday while giving an update on Dubai’s travel protocols for inbound passengers from South Africa, Nigeria, and India.
With the development, Nigerians will only need to present negative PCR tests taken within 48 hours before departure alongside a certificate and QR code from a government-approved laboratory. Passengers from South Africa and India need to prove they have received two doses of vaccines.
The directive, according to the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Management in Dubai, will become effective from June 23.
‘A Huge Relief’
Saturday’s update comes as a huge relief to Nigerian travelers, who have had to observe a 14-day quarantine in other countries before being granted access into the UAE, leading to a trickling in of tourists. Passengers from South Africa and India need to prove they have received two doses of vaccines.
Food vendors, who depend heavily on tourists, have been among the most impacted by this shortage.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gatewind Services, Austin Edeko said the development means much to him.
“It’s a huge relief for every Nigerian, it’s the best of another good news since the COVID era,” he said.
Nigerian owned restaurants in Dubai who depend largely on tourists say they have suffered huge losses already
“As you know Dubai is a tourist destination…. If not 70%,” Glen Vambe explained. “Operating in Dubai is different, the more we suffer”
For the Founder of Afro Express Restaurant, Armstrong Olusoji, doing business has not been the same since the Dubai government imposed travel restrictions.
He said there has been a lull in transactions since his business opened one month before lockdown in March 2020.
“I believe it’s been tough for everyone but it’s difficult enough to open a new business… that’s how the pandemic affected,” he added.
Nigeria remains Dubai’s largest source market in Africa and is expected to participate in EXPO2020.
“I’m sure a lot of African countries are looking to come participate … it’s denting the bottom line,” says Joe Osawaye, the founder of KIZA.
EXPO2020 Dubai is to kick off 1st of October. It is unclear what COVID protocols will be put in place for the 25 million visitors expected.