The United Arab Emirates has stopped issuing new visas to the nationals of 13 Muslim majority countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and citizens of several other countries over the security concerns. The new ban affects potential immigrants from Kenya, Somalia, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Turkey and Pakistan, a source cited by Reuters confirmed the ban. Notably, there were five African countries among 13 Muslim majority countries list banned by the UAE. The UAE reportedly began enforcing the move on 18 November.
The circular was released a week after the French Embassy in the UAE urged its citizens to maintain vigilance after a bomb attack in Saudi Arabia on diplomats claimed by Islamic State. The visa ban also comes two months after the Gulf state established formal ties with Israel, a move that broke with decades of Arab policy and angered some Muslim states and communities. Following which the UAE government had reportedly approved the agreement earlier this month.
Last week, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said that the UAE had stopped issuing new visas for its citizens while the UAE has not issued any public statement on the move. The officials of Islamabad had thought that the coronavirus pandemic could be reason for immediate ban but it later they confirmed.
Media reports of Monday morning had confirmed that the cabinet of Israel had voted in favour of the agreement which allows Israel nationals to visit UAE. However, it is not clear if there are any exceptions to the ban and the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship had no immediate comment on it.
The source told the Reuters that those who are holding valid visas were not affected by the new restrictions and could enter the UAE.