JUST IN: Upset as UAE denies relaxing travel ban on Nigerians

The UAE has refuted the Nigerian government’s allegations that it will lift a year-long visa ban on Nigerian travelers.

“There have been no changes in the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far,” CNN was told by a Gulf state official. Because he is not permitted to speak to the media, the individual requested anonymity. In October, the UAE stated that it will no longer issue visas to nationals of Nigeria and 19 other African countries. It didn’t go into any more detail. A 30-day tourist visa was quite easy to obtain until the UAE abruptly stopped issuing visas to Nigerian citizens. Flights between the two countries were discontinued last year when Dubai’s Emirates airline ceased operations in Nigeria.

The airline claimed it couldn’t access or repatriate $85 million in funds held in Nigeria. For many years, the United Arab Emirates’ emirate of Dubai has been a favourite tourism destination for Nigerians. Nigerian President Bola Tinubu met UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan earlier this week in Abu Dhabi, where the two men “finalized a historic agreement,” according to a statement released by the Nigerian government. According to the administration, the agreement sets the door for the visa ban to be lifted and flights between the two countries to resume immediately.

“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,” Nigeria’s presidential spokesman Ajuri Ngelale said in a statement.

However, the UAE government later stated that during the meeting, both presidents “explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration” with the hope of “reinforcing ties between the UAE and Nigeria,” but did not mention easing the visa ban or resuming flights. In a subsequent statement, Nigerian government spokesman Ngelale contradicted his earlier statement by saying that authorities from both nations required more time to negotiate agreement specifics.

“Given the agreement reached by the two Heads of State, it is necessary to allow cabinet officials from both sides to work out the finer details and finalize the cross-sectoral agreements,” he said, adding that “everyone can now allow the process to work itself out organically, free of speculation.” A playground for the affluent When it was reported that the visa prohibition had been abolished, there was ecstasy among Nigerians. Thousands of Nigerian travelers visit Dubai each year. It is also a sanctuary for domestic real-estate investors. Prior to the pandemic, Nigerians were among Dubai’s greatest foreign real-estate investors, with roughly $2 billion in assets, according to local media sources citing the Dubai Land Department.

Prior to the ban, Emirates Airlines flew twice daily from Lagos, Nigeria, to Dubai, and once daily from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, to Dubai.

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