Emirates operated aircraft at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates.

Christopher Pike | Bloomberg | Getty Images

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Dubai Airports General Manager has made a decision by the UK authorities to keep the UAE on their “red” list for international travel as new data from the group shows that passenger traffic through the airport has dropped at 67 8% has decreased. in the first quarter.

“I think the approach is wrong,” Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, told Dubai Eye Radio on Thursday, expressing frustration with the rule prohibiting air travel or bringing thousands of Brits home on arrival in the Emirates want to force an expensive quarantine.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that given its status as an international transport hub, the UAE could remain on the red list despite falling cases and the second fastest vaccination rate in the world.

“I can’t be too honest with you about my thoughts on these comments,” Griffiths said when asked to answer the transportation secretary. “We have made very strong claims to the UK government about the credibility of the numbers here and the way we are dealing with everything,” he said.

Griffiths called for “a far more proactive relationship” to address confusion over the verdict as public frustration mounts. The UAE remains on the United Kingdom’s Red List, although Abu Dhabi has the United Kingdom on its own “green” list of travel destinations.

“There are countries on the green list (UK) that we believe have not taken the care and the number of measures that we have taken here in Dubai to keep everyone safe,” Griffiths said. “Getting back to life as we once knew it is just not practical,” he added.

The UK Foreign Office and Transport Department spokespersons were not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC. Last week Shapps said, “We are not restricting the UAE because of the coronavirus levels in the UAE. The problem is the transit problem.”

The UK Foreign Office is currently advising against “all but essential travel throughout the United Arab Emirates, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.”

A health worker checks a man’s temperature before receiving a dose of coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center at the Dubai International Financial Center in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on February 3, 2021. The United Arab Emirates has seen an increase in cases after the holiday season.

Photo by KARIM SAHIB | AFP via Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates has delivered more than 9.9 million vaccine doses from its population of around 10 million people, just behind Israel in the global vaccination race. Residents of Dubai can choose between the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine, the UK-developed AstraZeneca, the American-made Pfizer Sting, or the Russian Sputnik V, while Abu Dhabi residents only last until Pfizer was launched in the capital’s emirate Week could access Sinopharm.

Some in the medical community have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the Sinopharm shot due to conflicting numbers from interim studies and a lack of published data on the Phase 3 trials. It has not yet been approved by the World Health Organization.

Economic and personal costs

The UK list, which will be reviewed in the coming weeks, lists 40 high-risk countries considered too dangerous to travel, including India, which is in a national crisis due to rising infection rates and rising death tolls.

The ban also had real ramifications for Dubai Airports, which call London a “key city” for passenger traffic at Dubai Airport. Before the pandemic, more than 6 million people would fly between the two cities in a single year, Griffiths said.

“It is almost unthinkable not to have a solid 28-a-day flight bridge between here and the UK,” said Griffiths. “The irony, of course, is that you can fly to Scotland but not England,” he added.

“It is obviously something that everyone here in Dubai is trying very hard to resolve very quickly.”

The ruling also affects many of the roughly 120,000 UK nationals who live and work in the UAE and their family members who have expressed confusion and anger, particularly over the quarantine requirement for hotels, which cost a hefty £ 1,750 (US $ 2,428) per person caused .