The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has imposed a visa ban on Nigerians and is currently rejecting visa applications from Africa’s biggest economy.
“All Dubai applications submitted are now rejected. It is general for Nigerians and approvals are on hold at the moment,” a terse statement from the immigration authorities in the UAE reads.
Travel agencies received the following from the UAE: “Kindly advise your clients to resubmit C2=A0 applications when the issue is resolved between both governments.”
What this means is that right now, Nigerians hoping to fly to UAE or Dubai won’t be able to get on that plane.
In simpler terms, they are not welcome anywhere near the UAE for now.
So, what really are the issues that led to the visa ban?
There’s currently a diplomatic row between Nigeria and UAE. Some of it has to do with forex and the others have to do with how Nigerians behave when they visit the tourism hub that is now the UAE.
In July, Emirates Airline, the dominant UAE carrier from Nigeria, reported that it had $85 million stuck in Nigeria, a figure that has been rising by $10 million per month.
Like some other foreign airlines, Emirates wants to charge passengers in dollars because of how weak the Naira has become, but the federal government isn’t allowing that to happen because that will lead to more dollar or forex scarcity.
Emirates has also been trying to repatriate its trapped funds from Nigeria to no avail, because the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is experiencing dollar shortage.
All foreign airlines operating in Nigeria believe that they are currently operating at a loss because of the exchange rate.
Just yesterday, Nigeria’s federal government evacuated 542 stranded Nigerians from the UAE as the diplomatic row between both nations worsens.
A Nigerian woman, identified as @dunchichi on Twitter, has also been reportedly sentenced to a one-year jail term by the UAE government for a social media post which showed how some Nigerian nationals were illegally detained at Dubai international airport.
The UAE is trying to punish Nigerians with this visa ban until the federal government allows it repatriate its money or provide the forex, or allow dollar charges on travellers.
How long before this ban is lifted?
Honestly, no one knows and no one is quite sure when all of this will end, but this is a muscle flex between two elephants, with citizens or travellers as the grass that ultimately suffers.
It’s a case of who blinks first. Will the UAE ignore the money and traffic it rakes from Nigeria for much longer?
Recall that the statement from the UAE notes that this will last for as long as it takes them to resolve pending issues with Nigeria’s federal government.
What is Nigeria’s federal government saying?
Nigerian authorities have told citizens to respect the immigration laws of other nations in order to avoid “unwarranted treatment.”
Nigeria’s ministry of foreign affairs says: “The general public is invited to note and be guided that the Government of the UAE has introduced a new visa regime and has stopped issuing tourist visas to persons under the age of 40 years, except for those applying for family visas.
“It is, therefore, instructive for prospective visa applicants to indicate clearly their visa preferences without any ambiguity and also respect the immigration laws of other countries to avoid unwarranted treatments.”