The countries on the list are primarily Muslim-majority.
Rabat – The UAE has halted new visa applications to nationals from 13 countries because of security concerns following the November 11 explosion in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Since November 18 the UAE is no longer processing new visa applications for candidates from Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia, Yemen, and two other unnamed countries.
The announcement of the new ban on visa applications for visitors and businesspeople did not come through government channels but instead became public knowledge because of an immigration circular distributed to Saudi businesses in a state-owned business park. The UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship had no comments for Reuters, which discovered the silent ban.
The document that led to the remarkable revelation advised local businesses that the UAE would not process applications for new visas because of security concerns.
The security concerns that the document cited for the UAE visa ban are likely connected to the November 11 attack on a ceremony commemorating the First World War. Foreign diplomatic staff were attending the event at a non-Muslim cementery in Jeddah when an explosive device detonated. The explosion slightly injured four and drew widespread condemnation.
“The embassies involved condemn this cowardly attack, which is wholly unjustified,” the French foreign ministry said afterward. France called on Saudi Arabia to “shed as much light as they can on this attack, and to identify and hunt down the perpetrators.”
The attack came amid the continued risk of reprisal attacks by the Yemeni Houthi faction. The Iranian-backed force has fought a long and bloody struggle with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Saudis blamed the group for firing a cruise missile at a Jeddah fuel distribution site on Monday. The Emiratis have their geographical position to thank for an absence of Houthi reprisals, with Saudi Arabia bearing the brunt of drone and missile attacks.
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In the absence of official government communication on the matter much remains unclear about the UAE’s visa ban. Pakistan’s foreign ministry became the first official government source to acknowledge the ban last week. It announced on November 19 that the UAE had stopped processing visa applications for its citizens who had requested visas after November 18.
The fact that most nations the visa ban covers are Muslim-majority countries could also be an indication that the UAE is expecting resprisals for its controversial decision to normalize ties with Israel. For the first time in history Israeli tourists will now be welcome in the UAE while many of its traditional Arab partners are barred from entry.