The United Arab Emirates is currently open for tourism, subject to certain COVID-19–related rules, which are set out on the government's travel website and which vary slightly from emirate to emirate. One of the rules for Dubai is as follows:

Rules that apply to all passengers arriving at or transiting through Dubai


  • They must download COVID-19 DXB app available on App Store and Google Play.

We are planning a holiday to Dubai but there are at least two travellers in our group who do not own smartphones at all. If we want to travel to Dubai, do the rules as written and as applied in practice necessarily mean that these travellers would need to buy or borrow a COVID-19 DXB-compatible smartphone before travelling?

The wording on the government website doesn't appear to grant any exceptions to Dubai's rules, not even for children. But perhaps the rules given there are a simplification of the actual legal regulations which specifically address, and make alternative arrangements for, the minority of travellers without (compatible) smartphones? In particular:

  • Is it perhaps permitted for only one traveller in a family group to have the app installed, provided the group always stays together?
  • Are children or infants below a certain age exempt from the smartphone rule?
  • @CGCampbell: I'm not sure what relevance this has to my question. Of what use is a prepaid SIM to someone without a phone, and how does this get around the (apparent) requirement to have a smartphone?
    – Psychonaut
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 20:06
  • Comments should also have some relationship to the question. This one is about entry requirements, and so tips about where to find a SIM card (or a good restaurant, or a cheap hotel, or a crash course on underwater basket weaving) only lower the signal-to-noise ratio.
    – Psychonaut
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 8:22

2 Answers 2


No, it is fine, I just passed through. Only ex-pats returning are required to install the app.


I flew in to Abu Dhabi, stricter Covid-wise than Dubai, without a smartphone in late March. No need to install the app - the staff who did the PCR test on arrival didn't even mention it. You're right, lots of the UAE government information online is confusing or seemingly inflexible, but coming as a tourist you'll be fine.

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