UAE: Residents cancel travel plans despite accumulating annual leaves amid Covid – News


Most people are opting to spend their vacations locally



Published: Sat 15 Jan 2022, 10:55 AM

Last updated: Sat 15 Jan 2022, 11:03 AM

Some UAE employees are avoiding taking a long annual leave to travel abroad and opting instead for a shorter vacation to spend locally, fearing that they might get stranded overseas due to constantly-changing travel restrictions.

The recruitment and HR industry say that employees are increasingly opting to spend their annual leaves locally since some companies have asked their employees to exhaust their annual leaves. But some employees have still accumulated a good number of annual leaves, as they were not able to travel abroad during the past two pandemic years.

“With new regulations to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the UAE and many countries imposing strict restrictions and lockdowns, employees are now rethinking their leave plans to avoid being stranded,” said Mayank Patel, country head of Adecco Middle East.

He pointed out that there might not be any change in annual leave policies of employees for now, as the spike in cases is also pushing back to the previous days of ensuring colleagues’ safety and work from home. However, in the best interest of the organisation and to ensure employees have a work-life balance, this may result in accommodating a part of their leaves to be adjusted.

Waleed Anwar, managing director of Upfront HR, suggested that it is wise for most people at the moment to stay in the UAE to avoid being stranded overseas. “This is the general opinion we are hearing from our clients in the UAE. Travelling will come with the risk of being stranded. In most cases, unless you are in a customer-facing role, most companies will offer employees the flexibility to work remotely to allow for continuous flow of work, wherever they are.”

Vijay Gandhi, regional director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Korn Ferry, believes that if the past 18 months have brought a huge change to the way many people work, then the coming years will bring an even greater revolution in working practices in the UAE.

“Location neutral jobs will lead to more flexibility. More offices will change in design to allow for this flexibility based on job and team demand. We will continue to see creative and different working ideas emerge and fit the new working environment,” he added.

The change in the working week in UAE, according to Gandhi, will also bring in a positive spin to the work from home culture. “Individuals are not rewarded by 9-5 or Monday-Friday parameters, but pegged to outcomes they are achieving on a regular basis. In general, the work environment will undergo a significant change, with remote working being part of the norm.”

Spending annual leave locally

Waleed Anwar added that now more than ever, UAE employees are spending more leaves locally due to restrictions on travel globally. “Because they’re afraid of being stranded overseas and not being able to return, so the leaves are definitely shorter and changing from the traditional long summer leaves we are used to taking in this country.”

Over the last two years of the pandemic, some employees have accumulated annual leave for not being able to travel due to Covid-19 restrictions while some employees have no annual leftover at all because employers encouraged them to take leave during the lockdowns, he added.

Starting January 1, 2022, the UAE government shifted its weekend from Friday-Saturday to mid-Friday until Sunday to help local businesses and also improve residents’ work-life balance.

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“Change in weekends should not change how many leave days people are entitled to, because as per the UAE labour law, employees are entitled to 30 days’ leave after completing one year of employment, out of which 22 days are working days – which will still remain the same with the change in the weekend,” said Anwar.

People-intensive firms may change annual leaves

Recruitment and HR industry say that firms operating in the people-intensive industries, such as tourism, retail and hospitality, are likely to recruit more people with the change in the weekend. Such firms may also alter employees’ annual leave due to the Covid-19 pandemic and structure it in a way that would help them meet their targets and also benefits the employees.

“This new working week will definitely stir changes in many industries, such as F&B and hospitality business, to make arrangements in brunch and dining offers, Friday special offers, etc. They could also consider hiring additional staffing during the new weekend leading to new revenue opportunities in this sector,” said Patel.





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UAE bans international travel for non-vaccinated citizens from January 10


UAE bans international travel for non-vaccinated citizens from January 10

In a stringent move to prevent the spread of COVID, the United Arab Emirates has announced a ban on unvaccinated citizens from travelling abroad from January 10. As per the news reports, fully vaccinated citizens would also require a booster shot to be eligible to travel. However, the said ban will not apply to those with medical or humanitarian exemptions.

With this announcement, the UAE becomes the latest country to impose new curbs amid a rise in infections. As reported earlier, many countries have already put strict restrictions into place for unvaccinated people before they are allowed to travel.

While some countries have made negative COVID test results mandatory before travel, some have also made quarantine mandatory for travellers upon arrival.

If reports are to go by, more than 90% of the population in the UAE has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while around 34 per cent had already received the booster jab as of December 24.

The latest travel rules in the UAE were announced by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Reportedly, these measures were taken to ensure that health and safety are prioritised.





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UAE bans travel for unvaccinated citizens, booster dose required for vaccinated | World News


The United Arab Emirates announced a travel ban on its citizens unvaccinated against coronavirus disease (Covid-19), starting January 10. The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) of the UAE said that the vaccinated citizens, in order to travel, are further required to obtain the booster dose as per the country’s Covid protocol.

The Arab nation will allow travel for individuals medically exempted from taking the Covid-19 vaccine, humanitarian cases, and those travelling for medical and treatment purposes.

“Ban on Travel on UAE citizens unvaccinated with #Covid19 vaccine, starting Jan 10, 2022, with a requirement to obtain the booster dose for the fully vaccinated,” the official handle of NCEMA posted on Twitter. “With an exemption for medically exempted from taking the vaccine, humanitarian & treatment cases.”

The travel ban has been announced amid a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, in the United States and Europe. The surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations, with the new variant of concern causing breakthrough infections, have also led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights across the globe.

On Saturday, the UAE reported 2,556 fresh Covid-19 cases in the previous 24 hours, taking the cumulative infections to 764,493, according to the ministry of health and prevention. The ministry reported one virus-related death, taking the country’s death toll at 2,165.

Earlier this week, HT reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to the UAE in January has been put off because of concerns over the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the country. While no official announcement regarding the visit was made by any of the two countries, it was expected that PM Modi would have been in the UAE on January 5-6.



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Expo 2020 Dubai prepares to mark UAE golden jubilee | News


Expo 2020 Dubai will mark 50-years since the founding of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in show-stopping style with a four-day slate of world-class events and immersive experiences.

Organisers said the show comes as the country celebrates its golden jubilee with “renewed optimism for the next half century”.

Running from December 1-4, the site-wide celebration – taking each and every visitor to Expo on a journey of authentic Emirati experiences and stories – will include world-class ceremonies, exceptional musical showcases, meaningful cross-cultural conversations, culturally-fused performances and engaging exhibits.

As announced by the UAE president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, highlights at Expo 2020 include the UAE national day, celebrated every year to commemorate December 2nd, 1971, when the UAE declared independence as a sovereign nation.

From 10:15, visitors are invited to Expo 2020’s UAE national day ceremony at Al Wasl Plaza, including the raising of the flag, high-level speeches and anthem performances by a children’s choir, concluding with an Al Azi Performance by Al Wasmi.

This will also feature alongside horses of the Dubai Police and the UAE Ministry of Interior Marching Band in the Colours of the World Parade between 12:45 and 13:15.

A gravity-defying aerial performance by Dubai Police will follow shortly after, alongside a 30-minute musical showcase by Emirati singer Fatma Zahrat Al Ain, and a jaw-dropping flyover display by the UAE Air Force aerobatics team Al Fursan.

The diamond in the crown of Expo 2020’s programming will be Al Wasl Plaza’s immersive theatrical show, Journey of the 50th.

Set to take place from December 1-4, the show will push the boundaries of what is possible in Al Wasl Plaza, featuring a blend of human performance, theatrics and the unique capabilities of the venue in a never-before-seen way.

Over 200 hundred performers including participating countries will take part of this theatrical show.

Amna Abulhoul, executive creative director, events and entertainment, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “As the show unfolds, we will learn about the origins of the Emirati people, the people of this land, who follow the current of the sea, know the language of the stars and hear the wind as it speaks.

“Their true connection to the earth and how the values of our forefathers still continue to push us forward today.”

More Information

Further details on UAE National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai can be here.





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China to hold World Cup prelims in UAE due to travel restrictions


HONG KONG, Nov 2 (Reuters) – China’s hopes of playing their upcoming home World Cup qualifiers against Oman and Australia in front of their own fans have been dashed after the matches were moved to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates due to travel restrictions.

China, who are attempting to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since their debut in 2002, have yet to play at home in the final round of Asian preliminaries for Qatar 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After negotiations with all related parties and the confirmation of the AFC, China will play against Oman and Australia on Nov. 11 and 16 respectively in Sharjah,” Xinhua quoted the Chinese Football Association as saying.

“The Chinese team will depart for Sharjah on Nov. 7.”

Li Tie’s side have been forced to play overseas in all of their matches in the current phase of qualifying due to the country’s tight pandemic travel restrictions, which severely limit arrivals into China.

The Chinese hosted their game against Japan in Doha in September, losing 1-0 to Hajime Moriyasu’s team, before defeating Vietnam 3-2 in Sharjah last month.

Li’s squad had been based in the Middle East from mid-August but returned to China after the win over Vietnam and officials had hoped to hold the upcoming qualifiers on home soil.

China are in fifth place in Group B and trail leaders Saudi Arabia by nine points after four matches.

The top two from the group qualify automatically for the World Cup while the third-place finishers enter a series of playoffs.

Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Peter Rutherford

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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UAE recalls diplomats from Lebanon, bans citizens from travelling


Abu Dhabi: The UAE on Saturday announced recalling its diplomats in Beirut and banning its citizens from traveling to Lebanon in solidarity with Saudi Arabia in the backdrop of the unacceptable approach by some Lebanese officials against the Kingdom.

The move was announced by Khalifa Al Marar, Minister of State, who said: “The work will continue at the consulate and visa section within its diplomatic mission in Beirut during the current time.”

The action comes one day after Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador in Beirut and asked the Lebanese ambassador to leave Riyadh within 48 hours over the offensive remarks made by the Lebanese Minister of Information against the Arab coalition supporting legitimacy in Yemen.

The Kingdom also ceased all imports from Lebanon. Kuwait and Bahrain also recalled their ambassadors in Beirut.



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Flight tickets on UAE sector still remain steep | Travel News


Abu Dhabi: Air fares on the India-United Arab Emirates (UAE) sector continue to burn a hole in the pockets of ordinary travellers. According to travel agencies, lack of adequate aircraft to meet the demand for seats has led to the situation. “The fares will come down to the normal levels only after airlines start regular services. At present, they are conducting limited services in view of the global pandemic,” said a travel agent.

High ticket rates
The lowest fare available on Monday, October 25, on the UAE sector is for the Kochi-Sharjah Air Arabia flight – Rs 19,500 to 20,800. At the same time, a seat to Dubai on the Fly Dubai service would cost Rs 26,900 to 28,200; on Air India Express Rs 28,500; Spice Jet Rs 38,500; Emirates Rs 48,500 and on Indigo’s connection flight Rs 40,000.

Travel agents said that a ticket to Abu Dhabi would cost an additional Rs 3,000 to 6,000.

Apart from the flight tickets, each passenger has to spend over Rs 3,000 on two PCR tests for COVID-19 in order to travel to the UAE. “In total, a four-member family flying to the UAE from India would have to pay over Rs one lakh for a one-way trip,” said the agent. In other words, a one-way ticket for a single traveller costs around Rs 25,000. Incidentally, before the pandemic struck, passengers from UAE could make a return trip to India at a mere Rs 15,000 during the months of October and November.  



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Turkey celebrates UAE partnership at Expo 2020 | News


Tugay Tuncer, ambassador of Turkey to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), toured the Turkey pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai earlier, taking in the visitor experience and highlighting the trade and investment opportunities the mega-event will offer.

Speaking to the Expo News Service, Tuncer explained that Turkey’s participation in Expo 2020 signifies “a new era of cooperation and a strengthening relationship with the
UAE”.

Commissioner general of Turkey, Mukerrem Aksoy, stressed the strength of the country’s food and agriculture sectors when the world is faced with food security issues: “Turkey produces organic foods for the whole world.

“And we are ready to supply the world.”

Discussing the growing trade between the two nations, the ambassador stated: “Our trade with the UAE is at US$8.5 billion and the numbers are increasing – in the first six months we saw close to a one hundred per cent increase, and Expo 2020 will contribute to [this growth].

“It will show that we can export processed food, fruit and vegetables and construction materials, which this region needs, and which Turkey has in abundance.

“Our construction sector is the second biggest in the world.”

Expo 2020 is also expected to contribute to Turkey’s tourism sector.

The diplomat, who once worked as a tourist guide, said: “Many people earn their income from tourism, whether guides, hotel employees, or in food production or processing – the industry has many sub-products and sub-industries.

“We welcomed approximately 30 million tourists annually before Covid-19, across coastal, cultural, health and winter tourism.

“This year, we reached high numbers, despite opening to the market quite late, and it was clear that people are hungry for travel.”

Located in the Sustainability District, the Turkey pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, under the theme ‘Creating the Future from the Origin of Civilizations’, was designed to reflect the unique history of Anatolia – the cradle of civilisations, as well as to showcase nature the country’s sustainability goals.





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Israel, Palestine conflict makes Israel travel push in UAE a tough sell


Aya Batrawy, Associated Press
Published 4:12 p.m. ET May 17, 2021

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Fighting between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza escalated on Wednesday, Israel launched dozens of airstrikes in a matter of minutes just after dawn, while Palestinians continued a barrage of rocket fire toward Israel. (May 12)

AP Domestic

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — As violence flares within Israel and on a day in which Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City killed at least 42 people, it was business as usual for a senior Israeli tourism official in Dubai as she promoted the country as a must-see destination for Muslim visitors.

It might seem an odd proposition at an odd time given that major airlines have suspended flights to Israel amid the flare-up in violence and while the spread of coronavirus remains a threat.

But at Dubai’s Arabian Travel Market on Sunday, billed as the first travel and tourism event to happen in person since the global coronavirus outbreak, a small Israeli booth — tucked behind Slovenia’s — marketed the country as the “Land of Creation.” Promotional videos advertised Israel’s vegan culinary scene, its beaches and urged: “Book Your Trip Now” to Tel Aviv.

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And the devastating airstrikes on Gaza leading the world’s television news?

“We were not talking about it. We are talking about the future. We are talking about what we can do to bring tourism to Israel,” said Ksenia Kobiakov, director of new markets development at the Israeli Tourism Ministry.

The presence of Israel at the travel and tourism event in Dubai highlights the United Arab Emirates’ business-first approach and demonstrates how rapidly ties with Israel have developed since the UAE and Israel signed an accord to formalize ties in September. It also signals how even the most brutal conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians are no longer viewed by some Gulf Arab leaders through a prism of Muslim or Arab solidarity, but as part of a wider calculation in a region gripped by multiple threats.

Israel’s tourism minister was scheduled to attend a panel at the conference on Gulf-Israeli tourism, but the panel was quietly renamed, and her visit to Dubai did not transpire. Israeli tourism officials say the minister’s visit was never approved by the prime minister and the cancellation had nothing to do with the current fighting.

The first plane of Israeli tourists to the UAE landed in November. Since then, the UAE has welcomed tens of thousands of Israelis to its sandy beaches and marbled malls, with most flocking to Dubai.

Kobiakov said the hope is that Emirati citizens and foreign residents of the UAE will visit Israel in return and help its tourism sector rebound when the country is open again to tourists.

“We came here to show Israel as a new destination for the UAE and Gulf countries, as a very colorful, exciting destination that is open,” Kobiakov said.

In all her discussions with tour operators, airlines and others in Dubai on Sunday, the focus was on tourism and not politics, she said. There was no discussion of the current flare-up in violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

COVID-19 concerns

A plan to open visa-free travel between the two countries was delayed due to Israeli quarantine rules. The UAE and Israel, which have had some of the world’s most successful vaccination drives against the coronavirus, are on track to sign the visa-exemption agreement July 1, Kobiakov said.

The current round of violence could impact Israel’s plans to lure back tourists, particularly its effort to appeal to Emirati and Bahraini citizens and not just potential investors or officials from these countries. Violence around the Al-Aqsa mosque in east Jerusalem drew rare rebuke of Israel by both countries, which signed accords recognizing Israel last year.

At least 188 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 55 children and 33 women, with 1,230 people wounded since long-simmering tensions erupted on Monday. Eight people in Israel have been killed, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier. Violence has also roiled across Israeli cities between Jews and the country’s Palestinian Arab citizens, as well as in the occupied West Bank.

In its airstrikes, Israel has leveled a number of Gaza City’s tallest office and residential buildings, alleging they contain Hamas military infrastructure. Among them was the building housing The Associated Press office and those of other media outlets.

The UAE’s foreign minister stopped short of directly criticizing Israel in the most recent statement issued Friday. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed instead called “on all parties to take immediate steps to commit to a ceasefire, initiate a political dialogue, and exercise maximum restraint.”

On the sprawling premises of Dubai’s tourism event, Kobiakov’s schedule of back-to-back meetings affirmed the long-view approach to bilateral ties the UAE and Israel have taken.

“People don’t feel safe to travel now to Israel. It’s understandable. But this escalation, it will finish one day,” she said. “We know that all the conflicts are coming and they are going. Tourism is staying forever,” she added.

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