Published 08 Sep,2021 via Bloomberg News Service (Global Editions) – Saudi Arabia lifted a travel ban to neighboring United Arab Emirates starting Wednesday, opening up a key market weeks ahead of the Dubai Expo 2020 trade fair.
The lifting of restrictions, which also included resumption of travel to South Africa and Argentina, came a day after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke to de facto UAE leader, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. The two discussed “the prospects of further consolidating the strategic cooperation” between the nations.
The move will come as a boost for the delayed Expo 2020 event, which Dubai has been preparing for a decade. Saudi Arabia was the second-biggest source of tourists to Dubai in 2020 after India, according to Dubai Tourism.
Dubai is targeting 25 million visits to the six-month event, which kicks off next month and is expected to generate billions of dollars for the government. It will be one of the biggest in-person events since the start of the pandemic.
The Saudi travel ban has been in place since July. That dealt a blow to Dubai, a popular weekend getaway for those looking for cheap shopping and lax social restrictions. Saudis flouting the rules faced a three-year travel ban.
The kingdom cited coronavirus-related precautions for the ban, but the move came amid increased rivalry between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Daily coronavirus cases in the UAE have been dropping steadily over the past month, falling below 1,000 toward the end of August.
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