Updated 4.40pm

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his wife and children jetted off on a holiday to Dubai on Friday afternoon. 

A spokesman at the Prime Minister’s office said Dr Muscat was on a “personal trip with his family” but declined to say for how long he would be gone for. 

The spokesman also dismissed rumours that Dr Muscat would be meeting his former right-hand man Keith Schembri in the Gulf state, saying the claims were "completely untrue". 

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne will step in as acting prime minister in Dr Muscat's absence. 

Dr Muscat and his family were spotted at the VIP terminal of Malta International Airport on Friday afternoon and from there boarded a 2.55pm Emirates flight to Dubai, taking seats in the plane’s first-class cabin.

They are scheduled to land at 1am on Saturday morning, local time. 

Earlier this week, the prime minister was in Palestine on official business with Foreign Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela. The two met with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and joined Christmas eve midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. 

Schembri holiday

The Muscat family headed abroad on its Christmas holiday one day after Dr Muscat’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri took his own family abroad for a three-day getaway, reportedly to Italy. 

Mr Schembri resigned in disgrace last month hours before he was arrested and questioned in connection with the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. He cleared the trip with the police through his lawyers. 

Mr Schembri was also spotted at the airport’s VIP terminal before boarding his flight. 

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