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President of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
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UAE Lifts Lingering Visa Ban On Nigerians After Tinubu’s Intervention

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President of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, have finalized a historic agreement, which has resulted in the immediate cessation of the visa ban on Nigerian travelers.

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.

These were made known in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Ajuri Ngelale.

The statement added that the immediate restoration of flight activities, through the two airlines and between the two countries, does not involve any immediate payment by the Nigerian government.

The two leaders have also agreed to a framework which will involve several billions of U.S. dollars, worth of new investments into the Nigerian economy across multiple sectors, including defence, agriculture and others, by the investment arms of the Government of the United Arab Emirates.

The statement added that “this is in recognition of President Tinubu’s economic development diplomacy drive and proposals made on Monday,11th of September, as Presented by the Nigerian leader, President Tinubu to his counterpart.”

Furthermore, President Tinubu also successfully negotiated a joint, new foreign exchange liquidity programme between the two Governments, which will be announced in detail in the coming weeks, the Presidential spokesperson said.

Lingering Diplomatic Rift Between United Arab Emirates And Nigeria

However, The Street Reporters Newspaper recalls that this is not the first time the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would agree to lift the visa ban placed on Nigerian travelers by the United Arab Emirates.

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The UAE had in September 2020 agreed to resume visa issuance to Nigerians.

Then Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who had announced this, explained that Nigeria also permitted the operation of Emirates Airlines the country. President of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan over Visa Ban On Nigerians

The former Minister had equally announced that the lifting of the visa restriction was a condition for Nigeria to allow Emirates Airlines operations in Nigeria.

The Federal Government had banned Emirates Airlines from Lagos and Abuja airports over alleged refusal to grant fresh visa applications submitted by Nigerians.

This was after banning European carriers, with the exception of British Airways, over travel restrictions.

Before the resumption of international flights in the country, the Federal Government had announced that Air France, KLM, Etihad, RwandAir, Air Namibia, Royal Air Maroc, Lufthansa, TAAG Angola Airlines were not granted approval to commence flight operations.

Cabo Verde and South African airlines were also denied approval as international flights had yet to resume in their countries.

Earlier, UAE said travel between the UAE and Nigeria was limited due to the closure of the Nigerian airspace.

The country denied restricting the issuance of visa to Nigerian visitors, saying, “At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UAE took a number of precautionary measures to combat the virus’ spread, including the temporary suspension on issuing UAE visas to all nationalities as of March 17, 2020.

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Nevertheless, the diplomatic rift between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates continued leading to UAE slamming a visa ban on Nigerians seeking to visit Dubai in October 2022.

The ban was conveyed in a notice issued to the country’s trade partners in Nigeria, including travel agents.

This came weeks after the country tightened visa process to prospective visitors to the country.

In the decision which also affects virtually all black African nations, the UAE authorities in the notice said, “all Dubai applications submitted are now rejected,” adding that the rejections will be sent in batches.

Although no reason was given for the ban, the Dubai authorities declared that all applications were on-hold until issues between the UAE government and the Nigerian government were resolved.

“All Dubai applications submitted are now rejected. It is general for Nigerians and approvals are on hold at the moment.

“Kindly advise your clients to resubmit applications when the issue is resolved between both governments,” the notice read.

The notice in 2022 came over a month after the UAE stopped issuing tourist visas to persons under the age of 40, which affected Nigerians as well as other countries.

A source from Wakanow, who confirmed the ban said, “it is true; it was issued yesterday. The Dubai immigration authorities did not state when the ban would be lifted but for now, everything is on hold.”

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For several months in 2021, culminating in the ban on Nigerians in 2022, Nigeria and UAE battled several diplomatic rows in the aviation industry and immigrations.

UAE Turned Down Buhari’s Appeals To Lift Visa Ban On Nigerians

In March 2023, United Arab Emirates disregarded an appeal made by President Muhammadu Buhari to lift visa ban imposed on Nigerian nationals since October 2022.

The visa ban, however, did not affect persons holding diplomatic passports.

Former President Buhari had appealed to his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayad Al Nahyan, to remove the visa ban on Nigerians in a telephone conversation whose content was relayed by the then presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu.

The Nigerian president, via the phone, disclosed that he had given instructions to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to increase the amount of foreign exchange allocated to the Emirates Airlines, the bane of the long diplomatic row between the two nations and as a show of goodwill towards the Arab nation.

Since the phone conversation took place and with Buhari’s presidency ended on May 29, 2023, the UAE appeared uninterested in his offer and had remained silent on the matter.

Instead, the UAE said the travel restrictions on Nigerians and other Africans accused of constituting unrest in its territory through cultism and other illegal activities stayed until another resolution reach with the current intervention of President Tinubu.

Comrade James Ezema is a veteran journalist and media consultant. He is a political strategist. He can be reached on +2348035823617 via call or WhatsApp.

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