HomeNewsNigeria, UAE end visa row after Tinubu’s visit

Nigeria, UAE end visa row after Tinubu’s visit

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Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu has secured a deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to lift the visa ban imposed on Nigerian travelers since last year.

Tinubu met with UAE’s leader, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi on Monday and reached what he called “a historic agreement” that also restored flight operations between the two countries.

The visa ban was part of a series of restrictions the UAE imposed on Nigeria and other African nations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The ban affected thousands of Nigerians who regularly travel to Dubai for business, tourism, or medical reasons.

The Nigerian government retaliated by reducing the number of flights allowed for Emirates Airlines, the UAE’s flagship carrier, which suspended its operations in Nigeria for several weeks.

The diplomatic row also affected Air Peace, a Nigerian airline that had launched flights to Dubai in 2019 but faced visa hurdles for its passengers.

Tinubu’s spokesman Ajuri Ngelale said the agreement with the UAE leader resulted in “the immediate cessation of the visa ban” and the resumption of flights by Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways, another UAE-based airline.

Ngelale said the deal did not involve any immediate payment by the Nigerian government and also included several other benefits for both countries, such as:

  • UAE’s investment of billions of dollars in Nigeria’s economy, which covered sectors such as defense and agriculture.
  • A joint foreign exchange liquidity program is to be announced soon.
  • A normalization and enhancement of bilateral relations.

Tinubu, who took office in May after winning a disputed election, has been on a foreign tour to seek support and investment for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.

He has visited several countries, including China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States, where he met with President Joe Biden last month.

The UAE is one of Nigeria’s major trading partners, with bilateral trade reaching $1.5bn in 2019, according to Nigeria’s statistics bureau.

The visa ban sparked outrage among many Nigerians who accused the UAE of discrimination and unfair treatment.

Some Nigerians had also alleged that the ban was politically motivated and linked to the arrest and extradition of some Nigerian fraudsters from Dubai last year.

The UAE has not officially commented on the reasons for the ban or its lifting.

The visa issue is not the only tension between Nigeria and the UAE. In June, a Dubai court sentenced six Nigerians to life imprisonment for funding Boko Haram, an armed group that has waged a decade-long insurgency in northeastern Nigeria.

The Nigerian government said it was unaware of the trial and conviction and vowed to appeal the verdict.

Source: Punch

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