The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has contradicted the Nigerian government’s recent announcement regarding the lifting of a year-long visa ban on Nigerian travelers. A UAE official, who spoke with CNN on condition of anonymity, stated unequivocally, “There are no changes on the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far.” This statement has thrown into doubt the recent optimism surrounding the reopening of travel routes between the two nations.
Last October, the UAE issued a notice stating that it would no longer grant visas to citizens from Nigeria and 19 other African nations, citing no specific reasons for this drastic measure. The abrupt suspension of tourist visas to Nigerian nationals had significant implications, including the suspension of flights between both countries, as Emirates airline, a major carrier, cited issues related to trapped revenues.
Emirates airline alleged that it was unable to access and repatriate approximately $85 million held in Nigeria. Consequently, flights between the two nations were halted, leading to disruptions for travelers and businesses.
While there was initial hope for a resolution, with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu meeting with UAE leader Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, the recent statement from the UAE government has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the situation. The Nigerian government initially announced a “historic agreement” between the two leaders, implying the lifting of the visa ban and the immediate resumption of flights.
However, the UAE’s statement released shortly after the meeting emphasized “further bilateral collaboration” and “reinforcing ties” without explicitly mentioning the visa ban or flight resumption.
Nigerian government spokesman Ajuri Ngelale later clarified the situation by stating that officials from both countries required more time to finalize agreement details, retracting his earlier statement. He urged the public to allow the process to develop naturally without speculation.
Dubai has been a favorite destination for Nigerian travelers for years, drawing both tourists and real-estate investors. Before the pandemic, Nigerians were among Dubai’s largest foreign real-estate investors, with investments valued at nearly $2 billion.
Emirates Airlines, the primary carrier between Nigeria and the UAE, used to operate multiple daily flights connecting Lagos, Abuja, and Dubai. The ongoing uncertainty surrounding the visa ban and flight resumption leaves many Nigerians eagerly awaiting further developments in this international saga.