Coronavirus: UAE travel and tourism updates

Siobháin Spear
Mar 15, 2020

With coronavirus continuing to have a global impact, the UAE steps up efforts to ensure that control measures and safety procedures are implemented across the Emirates.

Since the first reports of the coronavirus surfaced in December 2019, the novel virus has spread at unprecedented speed. Authorities worldwide are now ramping up efforts to contain the virus and curb the rate of infection. In the UAE, a number of of travel and tourism measures have been announced over the last few days.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus was first discovered in Wuhan, China, in December. By mid-February, the World Health Organization had announced that the official name of the specific strain of coronavirus was Covid-19. According to WHO:

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)
  • Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.”
  • Covid-19 was officially characterized as “a pandemic” on March 11

UAE to suspend visas

The UAE has announced that all visas will be suspended. According to WAM, the UAE will suspend all visas to all foreigners – with the exception of diplomatic passport holders – effective from March 17.

Last week, the Dubai Health Authority explained coronavirus guidelines for those travelling.

UAE to suspend flights due to coronavirus

In addition to suspending visas, the UAE has also announced that a number of flight routes will be suspended. Effective from March 17, both inbound and outbound flights will be suspended to the following countries:

  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Iraq
  • Lebanon
  • Italy (except for Rome)

Tourism updates from around the Emirates

Not only are travel restrictions coming into place, the UAE authorities have also issued a number of directives aimed to limit social gatherings in public places. Here are updates from around the Emirates:

Abu Dhabi and Al Ain

DTC (Department of Culture and Tourism) have announced temporary closures of cultural sites until March 31 amidst the coronavirus outbreak. The cultural sites that have been closed include:

  • Louvre Abu Dhabi
  • Manarat Al Saadiyat
  • Qasr Al Hosn
  • Culture Foundation
  • Al Ain Palace Museum
  • Al Ain Oasis
  • Al Jahili Fort
  • Qasr Al Muwaiji

Abu Dhabi’s main tourist attractions have also been directed to close from Sunday 15 March until the end of the month. In additional to the cultural destaintions, this includes:

  • Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
  • Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
  • Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Al Ain Zoo will also be temporarily from 15 March until further notice.


The Department of Economic Development in Ajman has also directed entertainment destinations to temporarily suspend operations – this includes entertainment halls, movie theatres, videogame centres and lounges.


In line with precautionary measures that are being taken across the Emirates:

  • The Department of Economic Development has directed all cinemas, theme parks, amusement games and electronic game centres, Spring camps, bodybuilding and fitness gyms to halt all activities until the end of March
  • The Dubai Municipality has announced the closure of all parks and entertainment destinations until further notice
  • The Dubai Culture & Arts authority has announced the temporary closure of all museums, historical sites and public libraries
  • Global Village has announced the early closure of its 2019-2020 season with immediate effect
  • All events have be cancelled across the Emirate of Dubai

As the UAE tries to navigate the way forward, citizens and residents are urged to take coronavirus and its wider implications seriously. Stay up-to-date with the latest travel news from across the region and adhere to all safety precautions.