The UAE visa ban imposed on African countries is not a new phenomenon, at least not from the recipients’ point of view, which I think is their proper title. Think of it like winning an award, like the Grammys or the Oscar, right? Not that the UAE visa ban is the same since it has basically disrupted many japa plans, but then…
But yeah, like I was saying, visa bans are not a new phenomenon against African countries, what with the stereotypes and prejudices shared by other countries, and which, let’s be sincere, we haven’t really done much to dispel. I mean, everyone has heard and laughed at the famous “Nigerian Prince” line, which is used to denote internet scammers in Hollywood movies and is kinda racist, because not all Nigerian Princes are scammers (see what I did there?).
But then, Nigeria has one of the world’s highest proliferation of internet scammers, and the Nigerian Prince line is one of their formats, making it hard to clap back at them.
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History of visa bans against African countries
As mentioned above, African countries and visa bans are not new to each other, whether based on prejudices or as security measures of some sort on the part of the foreign government. Or at least, that was what ex-US President Donald Trump gave as the reason for passing the bill in 2020 that imposed travel restrictions on Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan and Tanzania.
And then, so that the African countries wouldn’t feel too lonely, he added Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet state, and Myanmar, which was accused of genocide against its Muslim population, to the list, which already included Muslim-majority nations. Such a considerate man.
In February 2019 also, the USA imposed a visa sanction on Ghana in outrage after the Ghanaian government refused to accept Ghanaian nationals that the US deported back into their country. And while that was kinda weird, it definitely wasn’t as weird as the US basically punishing the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda for examination… sorry, election malpractice in 2019 and 2021, respectively, by placing visa bans on their government officials.
There was also the ban by President Obama against Burundi in 2015 after President Nkurunziza’s contentious bid for a third term sparked a coup attempt and post-election violence that killed as many as 1,200 people and displaced another 400,000.
Seriously, who died and made the USA captain?
The USA has not been the only one doing the banning, though, as, in 2014, the UK imposed a ban on Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia due to the Ebola scare. Which, when you look at it, is kind of a valid reason since other countries followed suit and restricted travel to and from these nations. Then they extended it to other African countries also.
And then there is the infamous ostracization of African countries from the rest of the world during the global paranoia of the Covid-19 pandemic. So, yes, African countries and visa ban regularly break bread together, and the most recent is this from the United Arab Emirates, which is every Nigerian’s favourite vacation location.
Reason for UAE’s visa ban
On October 18, 2022, the immigration authorities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced a ban on all visa applications to 20 African countries. These countries include; Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Comoros, Congo, the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Guinea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo and Uganda.
According to BBC, a notice issued by the UAE government revealed that there will be no visa applications for citizens from the affected countries and that any applications will be sent back or cancelled. The visa ban notice also instructed all trade partners, travel agents, and authorities to reject all applications without a refund of the application fees paid. However, it did not affect people who already have valid visas.
This development came weeks after the UAE tightened its visa process for prospective visitors to the country by halting the issuing of tourist visas to persons under the age of 40, except couples, which affected Nigerians and other countries.
Although the UAE gave no official reason behind the recent visa ban decision, its government authorities revealed that the rift between it and the Nigerian government needs to be addressed before its decision can be revised. The relationship between both countries, while mostly cordial, has not been without its complications; there have been cases of Nigerians being stranded in the country and subjected to degrading situations, especially during the pandemic.
Speaking on the issue, the federal government said that Nigerians need to respect the travel laws of other countries to avoid “unwarranted treatment”.
“The general public is invited to note and be guided that the Government of the UAE has introduced a new visa regime and has stopped issuing tourist visas to persons under the age of 40 years, except for those applying for family visas,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. “It is, therefore, instructive for prospective visa applicants to indicate clearly their visa preferences without any ambiguity and also respect the immigration laws of other countries to avoid unwarranted treatments.”
In other words, stay in your lane to avoid stories that tosh.
Effect of the visa ban
The major effect of the visa ban on Nigerians is how it will negatively affect the travel plans of many Nigerians, which will, in turn, affect ticket bookings to the UAE. According to Sahara Reporters, there are about 1,000 Dubai-bound passengers daily, some even going beyond the UAE; all of these passengers are shared among all airlines that ply the Dubai route.
With the new visa ban, though, many airlines, including the UAE carrier Emirates Airlines, Nigeria’s Air Peace, Ethiopian Airlines and Egypt Air, among others, would be affected because their load factor would decline drastically, leaving them with no choice but to stop selling tickets to Dubai-bound Nigerians.
The Director of Research for Zenith Travels, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, was quoted saying that the UAE prioritised national security beyond economic consideration and added that many Nigerians misused the free access opportunity the UAE authorities provided earlier. He noted, though, that the airlines would have to learn to adjust to the new rules and that Emirates Airlines, who will be the most affected by the drought of passengers, is not bothered.
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