DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A top diplomat from the United Arab Emirates has publicly acknowledged an inexplicable ban on visitors from Pakistan, which travel agencies say also targets tourists and workers from a dozen Muslim-majority countries amid a pandemic and normalizing UAE ties with Israel. .
After meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan stressed “the temporary nature of recent restrictions imposed on visa issuance due to the outbreak of COVID-19,” the UAE state news agency WAM reported Sunday.
He did not explain in detail visa suspension, which sought blind emigrants to enter the federation of seven sheikhs, where foreigners outnumber the local population by nearly nine to one.
Reported visa restrictions targeting countries such as Lebanon, Kenya, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen came just as tourists began arriving in the Persian Gulf country with Israeli passports following a normalization agreement. The Emirati and Israeli governments are forging an agreement on mutual abolition of visas for granting visas to Israeli tourists upon arrival.
Saeed Mohammed, a travel agent at Arabian Nights Tours in Dubai, said Monday that the visa approval rate for families from Pakistan and several other Middle Eastern countries has increased over the past few weeks. But young singles from those countries have been denied entry, prompting speculation that the ban could be linked to security or excessive stay in visas.