An official of the United Arab Emirates has countered claims made by the Federal government that it has lifted the year-long visa ban on Nigerian travellers.
In an interview with CNN, an official from the Gulf state who spoke on condition of anonymity said;
“There are no changes on the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far.”
Recall that last October, the UAE announced it would no longer issue visas to citizens from Nigeria and 19 other African nations. It did not provide further details. Obtaining a 30-day tourist visa was relatively easy until the UAE abruptly stopped issuing visas to Nigerians.
In a bid to resolve the diplomatic issues, President Tinubu visited the UAE on Monday, September 11, where he met the UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. In a statement released, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelali, said the meeting paved the way for the lifting of the visa ban, including the immediate resumption of flights between both countries.
‘’‘As negotiated between the two Heads of State, this immediate restoration of flight activity, through these two airlines and between the two countries, does not involve any immediate payment by the Nigerian government.
In recognition of President Tinubu’s economic development diplomacy drive and proposals today presented by President Tinubu to his counterpart, an agreed framework has been established, which will involve several billions of U.S. dollars worth of new investments into the Nigerian economy across multiple sectors, including defense, agriculture, and others, by the investment arms of the Government of the United Arab Emirates.” the statement read
However, a statement by the UAE government released on Monday said both leaders had during the meeting, “explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration” with the hope of “reinforcing ties between the UAE and Nigeria,” but did not mention lifting the visa ban or flights restarting.
Ajuri later granted an interview where he stated that Nigerians should not expect to start flying to the UAE immediately as officials from both countries needed more time to finalize agreement details, contradicting his earlier statement.
Before the pandemic, Nigerians ranked among Dubai’s largest foreign real estate investors, with investments valued at nearly $2 billion, according to local media reports citing the Dubai Land Department. Before the ban, Emirates Airlines operated two daily flights from Lagos, Nigeria, to Dubai, and one daily flight from the capital Abuja to Dubai.