The chairman of Dubai Flagship Airlines is optimistic about the return of travel between the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom (one of its top travel and investment partners), although the new Covid-19 variant may complicate the reopening plan.
Most foreign desert emirates with a population of approximately 10 million Already on the “Red List” of British Tourism Since mid-January, mandatory hotel quarantine has been required for anyone coming from the UAE, at a price of up to £1,750 (US$2,428) per person.
This The UAE is removed from the UK’s “safe travel” corridor At the beginning of this year Covid-19 cases surge In these two countries, the highly contagious variant of the disease first discovered in the UK is now caused by the approach of summer and the increase in vaccination rates. Residents and executives have called for reconsideration of the ban.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Said Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airlines, said in an interview with CNBC: “Our officials are already speaking and are taking this matter very seriously; and The government talked to officials there to ensure that we should soon be removed from the red list of the Arab tourism market in Dubai on Monday.
When CNBC contacted spokespersons for the British Foreign Office and the Department of Transport, they did not immediately comment. The British Foreign Office currently “recommends not to travel to the entire United Arab Emirates for necessary travel based on the current assessment of the risk of COVID-19.”
On Wednesday, January 27, 2021, shoppers wearing protective masks walk near the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa skyscrapers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Christopher Parker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
When asked what it takes to lift the ban, Al Maktoum told CNBC’s Hadley Gambling: “I think first, you have to prove to the world that we are the top three (countries) for vaccinations. This is close to 12 million people. The vaccine has been vaccinated so far, and only 99.5 million people live here in the UAE. So this should really make the British government think we should be removed from the red list.”
In terms of vaccine dose per capita, the UAE currently has the second fastest vaccine campaign in the world, second only to Israel. According to the country’s Ministry of Health, as of Monday, approximately 11.5 million doses of vaccine have been vaccinated. The country’s Emirates has authorized the use of Sputnik V vaccines from Sinopharm, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Russia, although the vaccines provided by the emirates are different.
However, the number of new Covid-19 cases per capita per day in the UAE is still higher than that in the United Kingdom. The reason for this situation is uncertain, but it has been attributed to the effectiveness of the UAE’s fully open economy and more frequent testing to the national medicine vaccine. These recommendations have not been confirmed.
As a member of Dubai’s ruling royal family and the head of one of the country’s largest companies, the chairman of Emirates Airline has special influence-his company and the UAE are both at great risk in terms of travel bans.
Before the pandemic began, the UAE-UK route was one of the most popular airlines.The designation of the Red List also affects many of the approximately 120,000 British nationals living and working in the UAE and their families, as well as the UAE who own properties and businesses in London and elsewhere in the U.K., where they live in the UAE and wish to visit their homes. People country Expressed confusion and anger Westminster’s decision, especially the red-listed hotel quarantine requirements.
“I’m sure they want to go home, their children want to go back, maybe to meet friends and family,” Al Maktoum said. “So I’m sure that in the next six months, we will see heavy traffic.”
But for Britain, which has experienced one of the longest cumulative lockdown periods in the world, caution is essential. In late April, the British Transport Minister Grant Shapps said: “Due to the level of coronavirus in the UAE, we will not restrict the UAE. The problem is one of the transit issues.”
Critics of this statement say that any major city can serve as a similar transportation hub and there are ways to ensure that people do not use Dubai-one of the world’s largest passenger airports-as a travel gateway from more countries. Countries with high infection rates.
In recent weeks, amid a wave of fatal cases that has swept South Asia, the UAE has banned flights from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Its leaders warned that a variant of the new coronavirus that is considered the danger behind the surge could complicate the reopening of Britain’s long-awaited lockdown.
The UAE reopened from the severe blockade in the spring of 2020 about a year ago, and reopened its tourism industry in July last year, and adopted strict measures to subsequently fully reopen the economy.
On Monday, Dubai, the country’s business and leisure capital, further relaxed its regulations for large-scale events and gatherings, adding to the relative “normality” that residents have enjoyed for months, while continuing to wear masks and maintain social distancing requirements.
Al Maktoum said: “I think if you look at this, everyone wears a mask and really keeps a distance.” “You know, the government really has very strict regulations. This is how we end up living a normal life.” s reason.”