Abu Dhabi backtracks on 'free vaccines for tourists'

Abu Dhabi backtracks on 'free vaccines for tourists'
2 min read
24 June, 2021
Abu Dhabi authorities have backtracked on free Covid-19 vaccines for tourists on Thursday, just a day after a government app said anyone with a tourist visa could get the shot.
UAE has opened its doors to tourists [Getty]

The app showed visitors could book appointments using their passport information on the app, which stated that those with an Abu Dhabi-issued visa or with passports "eligible for visa on arrival" can register to be vaccinated.

Proof of a visa or an entry stamp was also required at the time of inoculation.

However, once the notice was shared online and widely reported by international media, the Abu Dhabi media office issued a statement clarifying the city was offering free Covid-19 vaccines only to those with valid or expired residency visas, “which does not include include holders of valid tourist or visitors visas.”

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The health provider's phone app also changed its vaccine appointment booking page, requiring users to input their residency card before proceeding.

The federation of seven sheikhdoms boasts one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world, with 14.7 million individual doses already administered to its population of over 9 million, which includes some 1 million Emiratis.

The remaining 8 million are foreigners living and working in the UAE. Vaccines such as Pfizer's and Sinopharm require two shots.

Dubai, the regional financial hub home to long-haul carrier Emirates, has not announced any plans to vaccinate tourists.

Dubai was one of the first destinations to open its doors to travellers, allowing tourists into the emirate in July last year, just a few months after the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, has been more cautious, opening up to visitors only in December.

The two cities are just 90 minutes away from each other via an express highway, but since the pandemic hit, visitors to Abu Dhabi must show a negative coronavirus test.