India Starts Air Travel Arrangement With Saudi Arabia; Flights To Operate From New Year

by Tania Tarafdar
by Tania Tarafdar 5219

The travel restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic have hit the NRI community of the world. With the deadly second wave, many countries have imposed tighter restrictions on India. The travel bans have especially been difficult for NRIs living in Gulf countries. Did you know that the UAE accounted for nearly 3.5 million Indians nationals and Saudi Arabia is home to about 2.5 million Indians? There are Indians scattered in while Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait as well. If you are one of the many Indians looking to travel to the Gulf countries, here are all the restrictions you should know. As per the latest update, Qatar lifted mandatory quarantine for fully vaccinated eligible travellers from India to Doha.

1. UAE

Have you been waiting to fly to Dubai? If yes, then we have important news for you. Travellers from India will soon be able to book flight tickets to Dubai. According to reports, bookings from several Indian cities will re-open from July 15. Vistara will carry passengers from New Delhi to Dubai and Emirates and budget carrier Flydubai is expected to re-open operations on July 16. However, Abu Dhabi will re-open flights for Indian passengers from July 21.

2. Saudi Arabia

As India suspended regular scheduled flights, it has announced new bubble flight agreement with Saudi Arabia. You can now fly to Saudi Arabia under the new air travel bubble agreement that will come into effect starting January 1, 2022. However, these travellers will have to provide a negative RT-PCR test upon arrival.

Also read: Abu Dhabi Adds Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia And Kuwait To Green List

3. Kuwait

Amid the rising number of cases, Kuwait has mandated COVID-19 booster dose for travellers wishing to travel to the country. The booster dose is given to those who have completed nine months of the second dose of the vaccine. The order will come into effect from 26 December 2021. The General of Civil Aviatio, Kuwait took to Twitter to list down all the important travel requirements.

Meanwhile, Kuwait is has resumed commercial flights with India and Egypt, among other countries, while adhering to the COVID-19 measures.

4. Oman

Oman has extended a travel ban on passengers from India and announced a suspension of flights. The ban also applies to passengers who travelled to India 14 days prior to arriving in Oman. The restrictions however do not apply to Omani nationals, diplomats, and their medical and domestic staff.  Oman Bans UK Flight Capacity, Reduces Office Capacity Amid Covid-19 Pandemic.

5. Qatar

Qatar is the only Gulf country that has not suspended flights from India. However, they have made the RT-PCR test mandatory for travellers from India and transit through India. The test should be done 48 hours prior to the travel. . The RT-PCR report should be printed and not hand-written, with a QR code embedded. Passengers must get the test done from an ICMR-certified lab. Besides, passengers arriving from India must also undergo mandatory 10-days quarantine in a dedicated quarantine facility.

However, eligible Indians travelling to Doha from India can skip the quarantine if they are vaccinated with both doses of the WHO-approved Covishield vaccine. The vaccination must be done at least 14 days before the departure. But the showing of negative RT-PCR report still remains mandatory for travelling. Take note, visa on arrival (VoA) is not available now.  So, the visas must be pre-approved. Besides, all travellers are required to download and activate the ‘Ehteraz’ mobile application that requires a domestic Qatari SIM card. Only after activating this application, they can visit malls, restaurants, museums, or use taxis or public transportation.

6. Bahrain

Bahrain suspended regular travel from India with the exemption of its nationals and those who holding residency visas. However, these passengers must carry a negative RT-PCR test and quarantine for a period of 10 days, after which they should be tested again. Planning A Layover At Bahrain While Flying To UK, US & EU? Guidelines You Need To Know.

In fact, Bahrain has now become a transit hub for NRIs intending to travel to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These quarantined in Bahrain and reached their destination. NRIs are also considering other nations such as Armenia and Uzbekistan as transit hubs. 

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