Coronavirus: UAE embassy denies Nigerians are being rejected for visas

Officials expressed frustration at a slew of Nigerian website reports and comments on social media

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Nigerian citizens have not been banned from entering or residing in the UAE, Emirati diplomats have said.

Nigerians with valid visas can enter the Emirates as either residents, with approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, or tourists landing in Dubai.

The clarification came from the UAE Embassy in Abuja after messages were circulated on social media that claimed visas for Nigerians travelling to the Emirates had been halted.

Lesser known news websites also said Nigerian residents were no longer able to renew their visas and that all current visas were being cancelled.

“In response to recent press and social media posts regarding purported travel restrictions between the UAE and Nigeria and in affirmation of the growing bilateral relations between the two friendly countries, the UAE Embassy in Abuja denies the accuracy of the information contained in the reports,” the embassy said.

The UAE Embassy in Abuja continues to work closely with the Nigerian Government to obtain the necessary approvals to facilitate travel between the two countries

“At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic the UAE took a number of precautionary measures to combat the virus’ spread, including the temporary suspension on issuing UAE visas for all nationalities as of March 17, 2020.

“After entering the recovery phase of the pandemic, the UAE eased some measures on July 7 permitting visitors from various countries to adhere to the necessary precaution measures including by showing negative PCR test results within 92 hours of travelling to the UAE.

“This includes those visiting from Nigeria.”

Last week, one of Dubai Tourism's most senior officials told Nigerian media that the reports were baseless.

During a webinar on tourism in the face of Covid-19, Stella Fubara-Obinwa, director of international operations at Dubai Tourism, described the reports as "fake news".

“I challenge people to show me any publication from the United Arab Emirates which states that Nigerians had been banned from the country," she said.

“Nigeria is very important to Dubai; Nigeria has the highest number of travellers to Dubai, out of the 41 sub-Saharan countries."

Ms Fubara-Obinwa also said she was "not happy" that travel agents in Nigeria had apparently contributed to the rumours, putting off potential holidaymakers.

In July, Nigeria was placed on a list of 28 other nations requiring all arriving passengers to be tested twice for Covid-19, before their departure and again on landing.

The ruling came into force on August 1 and included many countries with a high number of new daily cases of the virus.

To date, there have been 46,577 recorded case of coronavirus in Nigeria, with 33,186 recoveries and 945 deaths.

The number of known cases in the country peaked at 790 on July 1.

Nigeria is home to almost 200 million people and is one of the fastest growing populations in the world.

The UAE Embassy in Abuja advised the public to only trust official statements on the virus.

“Travel between the UAE and Nigeria has remained limited due to the closure of Nigerian airspace,” the embassy said.

“The UAE Embassy in Abuja continues to work closely with the Nigerian Government to obtain the necessary approvals to facilitate travel between the two countries.

“The UAE Embassy in Abuja calls upon the public to verify the authenticity of such reports and to see information from the official sources.”