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Updated 28 May 2021
The UAE has been lauded as one of the successful cases in handling the pandemic, thanks to its rapid vaccination program. In fact, UAE is now the world’s leading nation in its vaccination race efforts to combat coronavirus.
However, vaccine drives in many countries have been slow and sluggish, hampered by shortages, bureaucracy and distrust of the available vaccines.
In such a situation, the prospect of vaccine tourism has been getting popular amongst people who wish to travel to get their jabs. Wondering if you can get your shots in Dubai? Keep reading to know more about the vaccine availability for non-residents in the country.
What is vaccine tourism?
Vaccine tourism is the act of visiting another country (or a place still within a country) with the aim of acquiring a vaccine otherwise unavailable to individuals in their country or city of residence. Naturally, with the current pandemic, vaccine tourism is synonymous with the COVID-19 vaccine not yet available worldwide.
As of late, there have been some countries such as the US, Russia, Serbia, Zimbabwe, Maldives that allow arriving travellers to get inoculated legally.
Vaccine-for-visitors schemes in Dubai
While Health officials had initially not rolled out any vaccine tourism plans, they had always hinted on the possibility of operating such a system in the future. More on this below.
Vaccination for Chinese nationals
Chinese tourists who are on temporary visit visas are now eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine in the UAE. The arrangement means Chinese visitors are the first non-residents to have access since the vaccination campaign began in December. UAE authorities and the Chinese Embassy set out the move on May 24.
Under the Spring Sprout Action program, administered by the Dubai Health Authority, Chinese nationals over the age of 16 who hold a short-term visa without UAE residency will be provided with two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine. Chinese nationals temporarily visiting the UAE can visit the official websites of the Chinese embassy and the consulate-general in Dubai for details. Vaccines were given for free, but officials said Dh100 was charged to open health files in Dubai for the Chinese tourists.
Walk-in is not allowed as pre-registration is required and strict precautionary measures including checking of body temperature, wearing of face mask and maintaining physical distancing will be enforced at the vaccination centre. The entire vaccination process for each recipient from stage of briefing to file verification and actual inoculation was completed in around five minutes. After the jab, the Chinese nationals were asked to stay at the centre for 30 minutes for observation, before being sent home.
Vaccination for holders of resident visa
Dubai has allowed holders of residence visa to get vaccinated as early as March this year, and this move was particularly welcomed by wealthy Indian nationals looking to get inoculated with Pfizer vaccine in the emirate.
China’s Sinopharm vaccine is being offered to a handful of wealthy people paying for access to the UAE’s Covid-19 vaccination program as part of a partnership to “bring tourism into the area,” according to an exclusive London club that claims to be brokering the service.
Taking the name of Knightsbridge Circle, the concierge club has managed to secure a partnership with the UAE government in allowing private access to the Sinopharm vaccine for its members.