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Diplomatic Ties: UAE hasn’t lifted Visa restrictions for Nigerian travellers –Official

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in a Meeting with UAE Leader Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi Recently

*The United Arab Emirates Government acknowledges both Nigeria and the Arabian country ‘explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration’ during their leaders’ recent meeting, an official has disclosed the UAE Visa restriction for Nigerians still stays, as ‘there are no changes on the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far’

*Both countries need more time to finalise agreement details: Nigeria’s Presidential Aide

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has clarified that the country has not really reversed the extant Visa restrictions it earlier slammed on Nigerian travellers.

ConsumerConnect reports the UAE, while responding to the widespread claim that it had reversed the year-long Visa restriction, has contradicted the Nigerian Government, noting the Visa restriction for the country’s travellers is still in place.

Still a waiting game on UAE Visas for Nigerians?

An official from the Gulf state, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media on the burning issue, said: “There are no changes on the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far,” noted CNN report.

Hitherto, it was believed in international travels ecosystem, that the Dubai Emirate, in the UAE, particularly had been a popular destination for Nigerians for several years.

It is also recalled that the UAE, in a notice last October 2022, had stated that it would no longer issue Visas to citizens from Nigeria and 19 other African countries.

However, the country did not provide further details on the Visa at the time last year.

Obtaining a 30-day tourist visa was relatively easy until the UAE abruptly stopped issuing the visas to Nigerian nationals, report said.

Subsequently, as the extant Visa ban took effect last October, direct flights between Nigeria and UAE were stopped after Dubai’s Emirates airline suspended its transnational flight operations in Nigeria citing trapped revenues.

According to Emirates Airlines, the aviation company could not access and repatriate its funds amounting to $85 million withheld in the West African country.

Federal Government’s initial response to reported reversal of Visa restriction

Recall that shortly after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s historic meeting with UAE leader, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi, the Federal Government urged Nigerian consumers to support the authorities to block the identified loopholes in the UAE visa application and processing to justify the the Arabian country’s reported reversal of Visa restriction for Nigerians.

Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser (SA) to the President on Media and Publicity, while featuring on a Channels TV programme, said that things would not be business as usual in respect of the citizens’ visa applications and processing for travels to the UAE.

The Federal Government, earlier this week, said that President Tinubu met with Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE leader, in Abu Dhabi where both men “finalised a historic agreement.”

Ngelale, also in a statement issued in Abuja, said that the agreement paved the way for the lifting of the Visa ban, including the immediate resumption of flights between both countries.

The Presidential Spokesman said: “Furthermore, by this historic agreement, both Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines are to immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria, without any further delay.”

UAE silent on lifting visa ban or restarting flights?

It was learnt there was much jubilation from excited Nigerians when it was announced that the visa ban was lifted on travellers to the UAE.

The UAE Government, however, in a statement issued later Monday last week, though acknowledged both Tinubu and Zayed Al Nahyan during the meeting in Abu Dhabi “explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration” with the hope of “reinforcing ties between the UAE and Nigeria,” the Arabian country, nonetheless, did not mention lifting the visa ban or flights restarting with Nigeria.

Nigeria, UAE need time to finalise agreement details: Spokesperson

Yet, in a follow-up statement this week, Ngelale again, stated the officials from both countries needed more time to finalise agreement details, in what done have described as contradicting his earlier statement on the UAE visa restriction palaver.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity also noted: “Given the agreement struck between the two Heads of State, there is need to allow cabinet officials from both sides to work out the finer details and finalise the cross-sectoral agreements.”

The statement said: “Everyone can now allow the process to work itself out organically, devoid of speculation.”

Dubai as ‘haven for real-estate investors’

Dubai is a popular destination for thousands of Nigerian tourists, and the city has been described as a “haven for real-estate investors” from the West African country.

Prior to the damaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Nigerians ranked among Dubai’s largest foreign real-estate investors, with investments valued at nearly $2 billion, local media reports citing the Dubai Land Department said.

It is noted that before the Visa ban on Nigerians, Emirates Airlines operated two daily flights from Lagos to Dubai, and a daily flight from Abuja to Dubai, in the UAE.

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