In light of a yet unconfirmed and unexplained alleged ban on foreign visitors by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), reports are coming out of several travel agencies located in countries on the African continent and the Middle East who claim that the issuing of new visas to citizens on their soil has been momentarily stopped.
The news — or speculation, comes amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the UAE’s normalisation deal with Israel.
According to a document which surfaced this week and was leaked this week from Dubai’s state-owned airport free zone, restrictions against a range of nationalities have been declared and it appears that the supposed ban is confusingly aimed at 11 Muslim majority nations – in addition to Kenya and Lebanon.
Meanwhile, citing an order from the country’s immigration authorities, the note to companies operating in Dubai’s airport free zone announced a pause in issuing all new employment, long and short-term visit visas “until further notice” from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Tunisia.
No reason has been offered and Emirati authorities are yet to acknowledge the suspension of issuing travel visas.
When asked by The Associated Press (AP) about the order, the country’s immigration department said it’s “not aware of any formal list of nationalities requiring visa suspension.” Dubai’s airport free zone confirmed the veracity of the document to the AP and said it was waiting for further clarification from officials.
Meanwhile, across the region, agencies and authorities say their citizens are forbidden from entering the UAE.
The reports have reached social media where network feeds and news outlets worldwide with many foreigners wondering about the news concerning the country where expat workers and visitors outnumber locals nearly nine to one.
In Kenya, locals are speculating over the supposed travel-ban and some people assume that the East African nation has made it onto the list over an incident involving forged certificates of “negative” coronavirus test results that were used in an attempt to travel to the region and resulted in 21 arrests on Thursday.
On a more official level, four travel agencies in Nairobi, the capital city, stated that they were seeking clarification from Emirati authorities after dozens of tourist visas were rejected.
According to one of the aforementioned agencies, Travel Shore Africa, 40 of its clients travelling to for Dubai had been blocked from boarding their flights at the last-minute on Thursday.
All this comes as the UAE welcomes Israeli tourists for the first time in history and right in the middle of the pandemic that sees a surge in confirmed cases across the region. In addition, foreigners looking for work in the federation of seven sheikhdoms increasingly overstay their tourist visas amid a cascade of business shutdowns and lay-offs.