The update will come into effect today, Saturday September 5…

Due to the changing landscape and evolving understanding of the ongoing pandemic, it makes sense for governments to practice a flexible approach to policy making.

It’s for this reason (amongst others) that Abu Dhabi has had several updates to its road border requirements. Since June 30, individuals have been permitted to access the emirate only by showing some form of negative Covid-19 certification.

Last week an update ruled out the use of negative DPI tests (the rapid laser blood tests) without a supporting negative PCR (nose swab) test (within five days) to enter the emirate.

But yesterday, Abu Dhabi Media Office shared an update to the policy, issued by Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee.

As of Saturday September 5, 2020 — negative DPI tests, obtained within 48 hours of intended entry, will once again be permitted under the testing requirements to gain entry to Abu Dhabi.

Summary: From today, UAE residents and citizens can now get into Abu Dhabi by providing a negative rapid DPI test result obtained with 48 hours of intended entry.

New rule for those staying more than six days in Abu Dhabi

Now, visitors and residents staying in Abu Dhabi for six days or longer (includung permenant residents) will have to take a PCR test on the sixth day after entering the emirate.

Even if you live in Abu Dhabi, if you come back in, after having spent time outside the emirate – you need to take a PCR test on your sixth day back.

Violating this rule can result in severe penalties as outlined by the Attorney General.

Where can I find DPI testing facilities?

There are two locations in Dubai (in Mina Rashed and Al Khawaneej), five in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi, and a further four in the Northern Emirates.

For locations operated by Tamouh Healthcare, you can book through the individual Quantlase Lab websites for Ghantoot, Al Hili Wedding Hall, or Ajman. 

For other locations, you’ll need to book an appointment using the SEHA app, which is available from both Apple and Google Play stores.

What’s the difference between PCR and DPI testing?

The short answer is that DPI is a really quick way at getting reasonably accurate results. PCR testing is slower, but more accurate.

DPI lasers, or ‘diffractive phase interferometry’ lasers are capable of measuring minute discrepancies in size. They’re being used in this application to scan for inflammation of blood cells, which is a tell-tale sign of viral infection. The test cannot however discriminate between viruses accurately. The results are almost immediate.

PCR or ‘polymerase chain reaction’ testing, is essentially a DNA test (although more accurately an ‘RNA test’) specific for this form of Coronavirus. Given sterile lab condition for specimen collection, it is highly accurate.

Results typically come between 24 to 72 hours. You can book these tests at many healthcare providers, check SEHA approval lists online and via their app.

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All the DPI rapid Covid test centre locations in the UAE and how to book them


Children under 12 and those with chronic health conditions have always been exempt from the requirement. The updated policy makes no mention of a change to this.

Volunteers in the Covid-19 vaccine trials are exempt from these entry measures and are authorised to use emergency vehicle lanes for a smooth journey.

Exiting Abu Dhabi

There are currently no restrictions on exiting the emirate/entering Dubai or moving between regions within Abu Dhabi.

Flying in?

There’s been no change the rules regarding entry into Abu Dhabi by air. Tourists are still currently prohibited from flying into Abu Dhabi.

Tourists entering Abu Dhabi by road

We’re currently waiting for an announcement on an update to the existing policy which will allow tourists to enter the country by road. What’s On has learned that this will likely require hotel qurarntine (believed to be 14 days) and further testing. More news as we get it.

Images: Getty