UAE cancels Visa Ban on Nigeria, agrees to invest

The recent decision by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to lift the visa ban on Nigerians has been met with acclaim and optimism, marking a significant diplomatic breakthrough following a meeting between President Bola Tinubu and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi.

Nigeria’s presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, confirmed that the meeting resulted in not only the restoration of normal diplomatic relations but also the establishment of a framework for substantial investments, valued at billions of dollars, spanning various sectors, including defence and agriculture.

Ngelale emphasised that this historic pact also brought about the immediate removal of the visa ban, which had been imposed by the UAE in October 2022 amid a series of diplomatic disputes. Speaking to Lagos-based Channels Television, Ngelale described the agreement as mutually beneficial and hinted that the precise details of these investments would be disclosed in due course.

The visa ban had been a source of contention, affecting not only diplomatic relations but also commercial interests. Dubai’s Emirates airline suspended its flight operations to Nigeria due to Abuja’s inability to remit approximately $85 million in revenue, which Dubai claimed had been trapped in Nigeria due to currency shortages. Furthermore, the UAE’s Etihad Airways ceased flights to Nigeria.

However, Ngelale declared that Emirates and Etihad airlines are set to resume operations without any financial obligations imposed on the Nigerian government. He also revealed that President Tinubu had successfully negotiated a new foreign exchange liquidity program with the UAE, potentially alleviating some of the economic challenges.

Economist Emeka Orji welcomed this diplomatic breakthrough as a potential catalyst for reversing adverse economic trends. He highlighted the significance of the UAE to Nigeria’s tourism sector, as the country represents a major source of tourism income, including education and holidays.

The UAE’s official Emirates News Agency acknowledged that the leaders of both nations explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration to foster sustainable economic growth, but the statement did not delve into specific details regarding the lifting of the visa ban and the resumption of flights.

Orji anticipates a positive impact on economic activities and potential investment opportunities in Nigeria as international relations between the two countries flourish. He envisions that increased economic activity and potential investments could be among the notable gains for Nigeria.

In conclusion, the lifting of the UAE’s visa ban on Nigerians represents a momentous diplomatic milestone that holds the promise of fostering economic growth and strengthening diplomatic ties between the two nations. As both countries eagerly await the full implementation of the new pact, experts express optimism about the positive prospects it holds for Nigeria’s future.

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