a large white building with domes and columns with Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the background

For the second time in a fairly short period of time, missiles were not only pointed, but actually launched toward the United Arab Emirates.

Dubai, the UAE’s largest city, and Abu Dhabi its capital, have become booming tourism destination over the last decade, and for those seeking winter sun, winter is one of the best times of year to visit.

But the thought of missiles, or conflict is never a pleasant one when flying, or picking a destination, so here’s everything you need to know about what’s happened and how to plan your next trip.

Ballistic Missiles Fired At The UAE

On January 23rd, two ballistic missiles took flight toward the UAE over the night.

The shocking turn of events sent commercial planes diverting or aborting landings and required a secretive UAE missile defense system to fire interceptors to shoot down the ballistic missiles over the capital city of Abu Dhabi.

The attacks are believed to have been carried out by Houthi Rebels backed by Yemen and Iran which have long targeted the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The group has reportedly plotted and carried out various disturbing events in the area in recent months, including some involving death on UAE soil.

What Does It Mean For Travel?

Abu Dhabi has become a wildly popular destination, thanks in part to its home airline, Etihad, which flies to most major global gateways, and compelling hotels at often lower costs than Dubai.

Dubai, it goes without saying, is a huge tourism destination.

Both cities have been incredibly safe places to visit, with low crime rates and excellent hospitals, but the recent events are enough to give a moment of pause.

a large white building with domes and columns with Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the background

This is the second, or third time in a matter of weeks that missiles and other terror related activities have targeted Abu Dhabi. Dubai has seemingly avoided any close calls thus far, but as part of the UAE, would be equally sought after.

Houthi rebels certainly aren’t a full scale national military and thus far most attempts have been thwarted with ease by the UAE’s missile defense system. Counter attacks to destroy missile launchers have also successfully crippled some Houthi infrastructure.

In these times, it’s important to remember that Israel is a constant target of rocket fire from Hamas and that missile drills are common place across Israel. That hasn’t ever stopped droves of people from carrying on with their trips as usual.

If You’re Going To The UAE

Travel advisories can be hit or miss during the pandemic, but in times of conflict or added perceived risk, they can be vital. If you’re going to the UAE, to Abu Dhabi or Dubai, it’s worth ensuring that you’re enrolled in any travel notifications from your embassy.

The US, UK and others each have foreign travel advice as well as handy text message or email based alerts to warn travelers if there’s a need to evacuate, or add caution.

Though it can be a bit of a buzzkill for the vacation vibe, having clear plans as to how to access an embassy, or the nearest hospital or airport can be crucial in uncertain times. Travel insurance can also alleviate many woes.

At this point, it’s unclear whether this conflict will ramp up and cause reason to put plans on hold, or whether these events will become isolated memories of the past. If you’re going to the UAE, just be sure to register for smart traveler notifications from your embassy and keep up with the news.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Too quick and random attack for an Embassy alert to do any good. Then as soon as it’s over high likelihood everything is again safe. This is not Russian troops on the Ukrainian border.

  2. Here now for last week, having enjoyed DeepDive Dubai & Expo 2020. You’re right, this place is clean, efficient, safe, and fun. Truly an international destination as the native Emeratis make up a very small percentage of the population. Remember, we’re Americans, we spit in the face of those who wish to influence where we think we can go. Especially if “those” include rabble rousing Revolutionary Guards.

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