Cult Clash: Dubai introduces new visa conditions for Nigerian travellers

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Nigerians have generated concerns among Nigerian travelers while it has created uneasy calm in the travel industry. This report sheds light on the new visa regime and its implications for Nigerians.

When a video emerged last week of some Africans causing a public disturbance in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it was clear the government of the Middle East country would react appropriately in a bid to protect the country and its citizens from any form of harm.

In the video, youths were seen fighting in a Dubai community and destroying public property. An unconfirmed report claimed that a Dubai Police officer was killed by the hoodlums.

The Nigerian Community in Dubai under the umbrella of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), United Arab Emirates (UAE) chapter, swiftly condemned the development while particularly commending the swift intervention of the Dubai Police who got the hoodlums, about seven of them, arrested.After arresting them, the police said a criminal case has been registered against the suspects and they will be referred to the public prosecution for further action.

The Dubai Police warned against such unacceptable behaviour and urged the community members to report such behaviour through ‘Police Eye Service’ on Dubai Police app or by calling the emergency hotline 999. The Force also warned the public of publishing or forwarding clips to avoid legal accountability according to article 52 of the UAE Federal Law No. 34 of 2021 on countering Rumours and Cybercrimes.The law stated that whoever uses the information network to announce, disseminate, re-disseminate, circulate, or recirculate news or data, or broadcasts any provocative news that would incite or provoke public opinion, disturb the public peace, spread terror among people, or cause harm to the public interest, the national economy, the public order, or the public health shall be punished with at least one year of imprisonment and a fine of not less than Dh100,000.

For the Nigerian community in Dubai, that singular incident was a signal to what would happen in days to come. The incident sent jitters down the spine of Nigerian immigrants in the Arab country and this was coming at a time Nigerians have issues securing jobs in the country.In a statement, the NIDO UAE Group, while commending the Dubai authorities for swiftly bringing the matter under control, clarified that the illicit act does not represent what the country stands for.

“We the Nigerians In Diaspora Organization (NIDO) United Arab Emirates group which represents the interest of law abiding Nigerians in the UAE wish to express our profound gratitude and appreciation to the Dubai Police for their swift action in clamping down on the perpetrators of the disturbing video in the last 96 hours.“We commend the Authority and we wish to state categorically that such illicit acts do not in any way define or represent us. We are good ambassadors, law abiding citizens and therefore, we distance ourselves from those miscreants. We assure the security agencies of our full support and cooperation if the need arises.”

Not satisfied with the clarification of the Nigerian community and as a further belt tightening measure to screen those coming into the country, Dubai has updated its visa requirements by including three new conditions.There was an initial rumour about the suspension of visa application to Nigerians which was denied by the Nigerian community. It was gathered that the visa was showing pending on the visa status portal which indicates it was neither approved, nor rejected.But the fear of the Nigerian community was confirmed when the Dubai authorities imposed fresh visa requirements for applicants.As seen from the updated visa portal, there are three new Nigerian requirements mandatory for all visa applicants to provide.These requirements are to be scanned and uploaded in the visa portal as provided to enable the applicant complete and submit visa application online.

The three updated requirements are Hotel reservation/place of stay in UAE, six-month Bank Statement and return flight ticket. While the UAE did not state any reason for the new requirement, it is believed the decision was taken to control the influx of individuals with criminal intent into the country.The development is already causing uneasy calm in the travel industry as many travellers scramble to meet the new requirements. This may ultimately reduce visitors to the country for those who are unable to meet the new requirements, according to Daily Trust newspaper.

The new requirements have been greeted with mixed feelings from stakeholders with the majority saying the development was a lesson to Nigerians to imbibe the habit of doing the right thing in accordance with the laws of their host countries.Dubai is one of the most frequently visited countries for business and tourism by Nigerians.

About 200,000 Nigerians averagely visit the country annually either for business or tourism.Before now, many Nigerians enjoyed the privilege of travelling to Dubai with very relaxed requirements until some Nigerians began to abuse the near free entry status granted to them, according to analysts.This, they noted, would further hurt some Nigerians with legitimate reasons for going to Dubai. Among those to be affected are Nigerians in search of jobs in the Arab country.“This development is good and also will prevent some fraudulent people coming in. But the point now is, they should allow us that have a visa inside the country work before it expires, please, so that we can pay our taxes and live peacefully. Please beg on our behalf,” said a Nigerian in search of jobs in Dubai.

According to the Director of Research and Strategy, Zenith Travels, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, the UAE as a country can impose any requirement it deems necessary in the interest of her country and the citizens.He said, “Every country has the right to introduce some consular requirements to protect their country and ensure that eligible tourists, visitors or business men are those who come into their country.“The UAE has been very relaxed with their visa. It is the most relaxed of the Middle East countries. Unfortunately, we have not behaved well. We have abused it. At a time, they stopped single ladies from coming except you are 40 and above.“I have no objection to it. It is their country. They need to do what they need to do to safeguard other tourists apart from Nigerians and ensure that their country is protected.”

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