News, Politics

UAE Lifts Visa Ban On Nigerians After Tinubu’s Meeting

Nmesoma Okwudili


October 11, 2023

In a significant diplomatic breakthrough, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has officially lifted the visa ban on Nigerians, ending a period of inconvenience and uncertainty for Nigerian travellers. The ban, which had been in place for several reasons, was recently revoked after negotiations led by President Bola Tinubu.

The UAE imposed the visa ban on Nigerians due to a combination of reasons, including security concerns, cult clashes, non-refunding of visa fees, and challenges in obtaining work permits. These issues had strained relations between the two countries, leading to restrictions on visa issuance, work permits, and travel for Nigerian nationals.

1. Security Concerns: One primary reason for the visa ban was security concerns. The UAE expressed apprehensions about the involvement of Nigerians in criminal activities, particularly fraud and cybercrimes. This led to heightened scrutiny of Nigerian visa applicants.

2. Cult Clashes: The visa ban was also a response to cult clashes involving Nigerian nationals in the UAE, raising concerns about public safety and the behaviour of some Nigerian residents.

3. Non-Refunding of Visa Fees: Reports of rejected visa applications and non-refunded visa fees created dissatisfaction among Nigerian visa applicants, further straining relations.

4. Work Permit Challenges: Nigerians faced difficulties obtaining work permits in the UAE as authorities became stringent in granting them, affecting those seeking employment opportunities.

The Hushpuppi Case: A Turning Point

The arrest of Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, known as Hushpuppi, in Dubai in June 2020, played a significant role in highlighting the issue of cybercrime and money laundering. Hushpuppi was a notorious Nigerian fraudster who flaunted his extravagant lifestyle on social media. The FBI, aided by Instagram data, tracked him to Dubai, where he was arrested as part of a larger operation against cyber criminals.

Hushpuppi’s arrest revealed his involvement in a global network of cyber criminals who defrauded individuals and organizations of millions of dollars. His subsequent trial and 11-year prison sentence exemplified international cooperation in combating cybercrime.

To address the visa ban issue, Bola Tinubu, a prominent Nigerian politician, engaged in discussions with UAE officials. While specific details of the negotiations remain undisclosed, Tinubu’s efforts proved successful in persuading the UAE to reconsider the visa ban. This diplomatic victory reflects improved relations between the two nations and a commitment to resolving international issues through dialogue.

The lifting of the visa ban signifies a positive turn in UAE-Nigeria relations. It is expected to restore ease of travel for Nigerians to the UAE, benefiting business, tourism, and employment opportunities. Furthermore, both nations have agreed on an investment framework involving billions of dollars in sectors such as defence, agriculture, and more, which will boost economic ties.

Background of the Visa Ban

The visa ban was not the first point of contention between the UAE and Nigeria. Prior to the ban, the two countries had been embroiled in a diplomatic dispute involving flight allocations and travel bans, dating back to 2021. The UAE had banned airlines from flying Nigerian passengers into the Emirates, citing COVID-19 concerns. In response, Nigeria reduced flight slots for UAE airlines, leading to a suspension of flights to Nigeria. In October 2022, the UAE imposed a visa ban on Nigerians amid a diplomatic row.

President Tinubu’s dedication to economic development diplomacy has yielded significant results, as evidenced by the establishment of an agreed framework between him and his counterpart. This framework paves the way for substantial new investments worth billions of U.S. dollars into the Nigerian economy, facilitated by the investment arms of the Government of the United Arab Emirates. These investments will be directed towards various sectors, including defence, agriculture, and others, with the aim of fostering growth and prosperity in Nigeria.

Furthermore, President Tinubu’s successful negotiations have led to the creation of a joint foreign exchange liquidity program between the two governments. This program, which will be announced in detail in the coming weeks, is set to enhance liquidity and facilitate smoother financial transactions between Nigeria and the UAE.

President Tinubu expressed his deep appreciation for the UAE President’s unwavering friendship and determined efforts to work together in order to fully restore and elevate the standard of relations between their respective countries. It is worth noting that this positive development comes in the wake of the UAE’s temporary ban on nationals from several African countries, including Nigeria, from entering Dubai. President Tinubu, true to his promise made during his election campaign, has diligently worked towards resolving this impasse and ensuring that bilateral relations between Nigeria and the UAE are strengthened and normalized.

This agreement is significant because it will help to strengthen the economic ties between the two countries. The restoration of flight activity will make it easier for people to travel between Nigeria and the UAE, which will facilitate trade and other economic activities. The fact that the Nigerian government will not have to make any immediate payments for this restoration of flight activity is also noteworthy, as it shows that the UAE is committed to building a strong relationship with Nigeria.

In addition to the resumption of flight schedules, President Tinubu presented proposals to his counterpart that resulted in an agreed framework for several billion dollars worth of new investments in the Nigerian economy across multiple sectors.

Another important agreement that was reached during the meeting was a joint foreign exchange liquidity program between the two governments. The details of this program will be announced in the coming weeks, but it is expected to provide much-needed liquidity to the Nigerian economy and help stabilize the country’s currency.

Overall, these recent achievements highlight President Tinubu’s commitment to fostering international partnerships, attracting foreign investments, and resolving diplomatic challenges for the benefit of Nigeria’s economic growth and global standing and these agreements represent a significant step forward in the relationship between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates. President Tinubu commended the UAE President for his efforts to reset relations between the two countries and expressed his hope that these agreements will help to build a stronger, more prosperous future for both nations.

In short, The lifting of the visa ban on Nigerians by the UAE is a testament to the power of diplomacy and dialogue in resolving international disputes. Bola Tinubu’s efforts and the subsequent agreement between the two nations mark a positive step forward in UAE-Nigeria relations. This development not only benefits Nigerian travellers but also strengthens economic ties between the countries, highlighting the importance of diplomatic engagement in addressing global challenges.


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