Covid-19 travel: what it's like to fly from Dubai to Oman now that the border is open

© Provided by The National Oman reopened its borders to vaccinated travellers on September 1. Photo: Anfal Shamsudeen

From September 1, Oman began welcoming vaccinated visitors after closing its borders during the Covid-19 global pandemic.

With travel open again between the UAE and Oman, and with no more hotel quarantine required for those who are fully immunised against the coronavirus, the sultanate is once again a travel option for anyone seeking white beaches, abundant greenery and the laid-back pace of life Oman is known for.

While there is a lot to love about this move – including the push it is giving the country’s travel and tourism sector – there are certain restrictions and processes that have been put in place in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus via air travel. Here’s what you need to keep in mind if you’re planning a visit.

What documents do I need to fly to Oman?

© Provided by The National Salam Air is a budget airline, with numerous flight options between the UAE and Oman

It’s important to apply for an Oman e-visa beforehand. Only citizens from a handful of countries are exempt from this rule so check in advance if you qualify. If not, create an online account, fill in the form, upload the requested documents and make the necessary payment here. There’s a separate visa category for GCC residents, and prices vary depending on how long you plan to stay.

It’s a speedy process and is even quicker if you’ve applied for an Oman visa in the past; mine was delivered electronically in under 10 minutes.

There are several airlines flying between the UAE and Oman. From Dubai, try Emirates or flydubai, and from Abu Dhabi go with Etihad or Wizz Air Abu Dhabi. You can also opt to fly with Oman Air, the sultanate’s national airline, or low-cost airline Salam Air. This means you should be able to easily find a flight to suit your budget and timings.

It’s mandatory for travellers to have valid health insurance to cover medical expenses in Oman for a period of one month. Most airlines include this with your ticket, but double check before you fly. It’s worth noting that citizens of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are exempt from insurance requirements.

Oman is currently open to those who have received both doses of a recognised vaccine at least 14 days before travelling to the country. You can find out which vaccines are recognised and more via The National’s guide to travelling to Oman. Travellers must also make sure that vaccination certificates have a QR code.

Visitors travelling to Oman from any destination – including connecting and transit passengers – must also have a printed negative Covid-19 PCR test. From the UAE, the test must be administered within 72 hours of the scheduled arrival time in Oman.

© Provided by The National Vaccinated travellers in Oman are no longer required to hotel quarantine. Getty Images

Once you’ve acquired all the necessary documents, there’s one more form to fill out. The e-Mushrif registration form requires you to upload your vaccination certificate and negative PCR test result, and make a payment of Omani rial 2.5 ($6.8). Once you’ve correctly completed the form and made your payment, you’ll get an immediate confirmation, so you don’t need to worry about lengthy waiting times.

However, you do have to ensure that all the required details are filled in or the system will refuse to process your form. While it’s not mandatory to do so, it’s a good idea to keep hard copies of all your documents with you.

Flying from Dubai to Muscat

© Provided by The National Passengers at Muscat International Airport, Oman. Bloomberg

It’s definitely a good idea to get to the airport the recommended three hours in advance; during my visit, there was a 45-minute wait at the check-in counter, mostly because of problems that passengers had experienced with the e-Mushrif form.

Once you’re checked in, the rest of the process is pretty straightforward, but it’s a good idea to mentally prepare yourself for crowds. Dubai International Airport was busy and gone are the days when airlines were socially distancing passengers; our flight to Oman was very full.

Make sure you have a supply of face masks with you, as wearing these is a must throughout the journey. They can only be removed when you are eating and drinking.

What to expect when you land in Oman

At Muscat International Airport, the first thing you’ll encounter is the immigration check point, with separate counters for residents and families, and other counters for visa holders.

When we landed, it was bustling. There were people on hand to guide arriving travellers to the correct queue. Following this process, you can make your way towards the baggage conveyer belt, and airport staff may request to check your e-Mushrif forms as you do so.

Before reaching baggage claim, there’s a new checkpoint you must stop at. Be prepared to show staff your vaccination certificate and negative PCR test. If all documents are in order, you’ll be given an exit stamp and you’re all set to collect your luggage.

Any passengers who don’t have a pre-travel PCR test will have to take one on arrival at Muscat International Airport. These travellers will then have to quarantine until they receive the results. An electronic wrist tracker must be worn during the isolation period.

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