Travel agencies in countries across the Middle East and Africa said the United Arab Emirates has temporarily halted issuing new visas to their citizens, even as the Gulf state allows Israelis into the country visa-free following the normalization deal between the two countries.
Confusion over the unexplained UAE visa ban targeting 11 Muslim-majority nations, in addition to Kenya, swirled after a leaked document from Dubai’s state-owned airport free zone surfaced this week, declaring restrictions against a range of nationalities.
Emirati authorities have not acknowledged the suspension that comes as the UAE welcomes Israeli tourists for the first time in history, the coronavirus pandemic surges across the region and those searching for work in the federation of seven sheikhdoms increasingly overstay their tourist visas amid a cascade of business shutdowns and lay-offs.
Citing an order from the country’s immigration authorities, the note to companies operating in Dubai’s airport free zone announced a pause in issuing all new employment, long and short-term visit visas “until further notice” from countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Tunisia, without offering a reason. Those already holding visas would not be affected, it said.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that Israel and the UAE have agreed on a plan that will allow Israelis to travel to the Gulf nation even before a mutual visa-waiver program comes into effect.