The UAE has imposed a blanket ban on 30-day tourist visas for 20 countries, comprising 19 African countries and the Dominican Republic.
The African countries included are mostly from West, East and Central Africa – Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Cameroon, Liberia, Burundi, Republic of Guinea, Gambia, Togo, DRC, Congo, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau and Comoros.
A notice issued by UAE authorities to trade partners, travel agents inclusive, read, “This is to inform you that we will not be posting 30 days visa applications for these nationalities, effective today October 18, 2022. Any applications from the above-mentioned countries will be sent back or cancelled”.
The visa ban is the latest step in the efforts taken by the UAE authorities to tighten the noose for foreigners into the Middle Eastern country. Reportedly, many Africans seeking to find work in the country would overstay the limit on their visit visas.
The UAE offers a grace period of 10 days after the expiry of the 30-day visit visas, after which fines are paid for each day of overstay – 200 AED (54.8 USD) for the first day of overstay and 100 AED (27.4 USD) for each subsequent day – as well as a 100 AED service charge. The accumulated sum must then be paid at the airport before the tourist is allowed to leave, else they face either detainment or deportation.
Sometimes, people overstay their visas with the hope that they will find jobs that sponsor their residence visas, or just overstay so they can work illegally.
In September, UAE authorities introduced a new immigration requirement, demanding that Ugandan migrant workers present police certificates of good conduct before being allowed into the country. The requirement had existed since 2018 but had previously exempted Ugandans. The September notice also required that Ugandans’ bank statements reflected a balance of at least 5 million UGX. That same month, the UAE deported over 600 Ugandans residing illegally in the country after their visas expired.
The UAE and Nigeria have also had a rather rocky diplomatic relationship. In July this year, the former imposed a restriction on Nigerian visas following a violent conflict between Nigerian cults in Dubai and Sharjah. A week later, the UAE authorities rescinded the restriction and started issuing visas to Nigeria again, but this time with stricter requirements, including a six-month bank statement and proof of accommodation.
Then in September, Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the UAE was no longer giving tourist visas to Nigerians under 40 years old, except for those applying for family visas. This came shortly after a Nigerian lady shared on Twitter that she and some other 20 Nigerians were being treated poorly at Dubai International Airport.
Her tweet read, “I'm at Dubai international airport and myself and some tiger Nigerians with valid Visas are being held in a room hours after arriving with no explain [sic] and no information on what we can do. Please help me. There's more than 20 of us.”
In 2021, Nigerians were forced to return home in droves as they were denied residency visa renewals. No official reasons were given for those denials.
Some have criticised the UAE’s visa ban move as being targeted towards just black people.
“No North African country included. This is racism,” Twitter user, @Jtabdularahman said.
Some Nigerians have taken it a step further, calling on the Nigerian government to retaliate by ceasing all relations with the UAE.
The UAE, particularly Dubai, is a tourism hotspot for Africans, so many are just hopeful that the ban will be lifted soon, so they can continue with their holiday plans.
Sources: allAfrica, People’s Gazette.