Why the UAE placed Visa ban on Nigerian travellers

The United Arab Emirates, (UAE) has placed a compulsory visa ban on Nigerians visiting Dubai.

The notice given by the UAE to its trade partners in Nigeria last Saturday didn’t provide any reasons for this action but said, “all Dubai applications submitted have been rejected.”

This new development is coming weeks after the Dubai authorities tightened visa restrictions for visitors. They were initially granting visas to applicants under the age of 40, except those that apply for a family visa, which affected Nigerians plus some other mostly African countries.

Why the UAE imposed a visa ban on Nigerians?

Over the past 18 months, Nigeria and the UAE have been embroiled in some diplomatic tussles. In August 2021, a viral tweet showed some Nigerians being held in a room at the Dubai airport. The poster claimed they were maltreated even though they carry valid travel documents.

The Nigerian government at the time, in their response through the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Chairperson, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said the affected Nigerians, including those sent back, did not follow the new visa rules of the UAE. 

NIDCOM said most of the affected Nigerians “were issued with family visas but did not carry any family member with them to Dubai.”

Dabiri-Erewa in a video she posted on 1 September, said it’s the “bad behaviour” by some Nigerians that made the UAE tighten their visa rules, after reports and videos of Nigerian rival cult groups clashing in Dubai. 

Of recent, the Nigerian government evacuated over 500 Nigerians that were stranded in the UAE last Sunday.

The Aviation tussle between Nigeria and the UAE

Within the past 10 months, the aviation sector has suffered the most in the tussle between the Nigerian government and UAE authorities.

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In December 2021, the Nigerian government reduced the number of Emirates Airlines flight operations in Nigeria from 21 flights to one flight per week.

This decision was in retaliation over how the UAE treated a Nigerian local carrier, Air Peace. The UAE had earlier reduced Air Peace operations from 3 flights to one per week. The decision by the Nigerian government forced Emirates Airlines to stop its operations in Nigeria for a few weeks. Operations later continued after both governments announced a settlement.

In August 2022, Emirates Airlines announced the suspension of all flight operations in Nigeria with effect from 1 September. They say the reason is their inability to collect and repatriate their money trapped in Nigeria. 

On 11 September, the airline resumed operations in the country after, “the Central Bank of Nigeria has released part of our blocked funds” the statement said.

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