Published on the biafra post 
March 17, 2024 

Experts in the nation’s aviation sector have explained why, in their opinion, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may not lift travel restrictions against Nigeria and restore relations between the two countries in the foreseeable future.

The experts told THISDAY that the decision to maintain diplomatic impasse against Nigeria is deliberate because Nigeria do not fit into the next positioning of the country, which is to allow foreigners who would not jolt existing peace and crime free society, which they have taken time to build.

Also, it was learnt that the UAE has changed the choice of its focus in tune with its new diplomatic goals, which is to bring new spenders from the globe that are disposed to peace and discipline in line with the set goals of the country.

It would be recalled that Nigerians were caught on video at one time exhibiting violence with machetes in Dubai and they were also caught trying to steal ATM machines and even engaged in shop lifting.

Also, during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 and thereafter, UAE authorities had engaged the Nigerian government to repatriate Nigerians in the Middle East country who had committed crimes and were in the country’s prisons, but when they did not get positive feedback, they decided to repatriate those Nigerians back to the country at their own expense.

Commenting on the development, the General Managing Director, Flinchglow Holdings Limited and former President of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mr. Bankole Bernard, recalled these incidents to THISDAY.

He said it was not because of the trapped Emirates Airlines fund that UAE chose to maintain the current diplomatic status with Nigeria, but because the conduct of many Nigerians who travelled to the country was not in tune with peaceful and crime free standards it wants to maintain, recalling that Venezuela owes Emirates and there is no diplomatic impasse between the two countries.

“In the life of a country, there are always changes. A country may design a purpose in its foreign relations and adopt ways to implement it and achieve its desired objectives. Earlier everything in Dubai was cheap. They wanted to show the world what they have because the country wanted to showcase itself as a leading tourism destination. They do not want crime. They do not want violence; but Nigerians abused these two things. We have taken crime and violence there. You must have watched a video, which showed Nigerians in a cult clash, brandishing machetes. You must have seen them attacking a store.

“In as much as UAE wants more people to come to her country, it must scrutinize the people they allow into their country. This is the new diplomatic message. What Nigerians exhibited then was gross indiscipline. UAE will continue to keep its current stance until we show some levels of commitment,” he said.

Bernard also remarked that Nigerians have made themselves pariahs that even a country like South Africa is placing some restrictions to Nigerians coming to their country because we have embraced indiscipline as a way of life.

Bernard further said: “At some points, UAE had a lot of Nigerians in their prisons. Our government did not come to take them. They spent money to repatriate them back to Nigeria. Currently Qatar is allowing Nigerians into the country. They come there and organise parties. After some time, they will close the country to us. They noticed that UAE used that style to make money and they have adopted it but at certain time they will stop us.

“So, it is not because of the debt owed Emirates Airlines that prompted UAE to take that stance. Emirates debt is commercial debts; it does not have bearing on the diplomatic decision. They may have decided that they will not operate to Nigeria because they are not offering visa service; so, who are they going there to carry. Even Air Peace cannot operate to Dubai because they are not giving Nigerians visa; who are you going to airlift?”

Industry insiders have suggested that the Nigerian government should develop a policy in which a Nigerian travelling overseas must be scrutinised to know his background, what he is doing for a living, where he is going and to keep tabs on him.

On his part, Travel expert and organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Ambassador Ikechi Uko, told THISDAY that UAE is rebuilding itself and changing its focus, revealing that the country does not want to host low, violent elements from the society but it is targeting rich tourists from countries like Russia who would maintain the country’s peace and security and also spend money.

In May last year UAE said it was targeting $123 billion from the tourism sector and it was also expecting 40 million visitors, but Nigerians were not part of its targets and it seemed not in a hurry to restore good diplomatic relations with Nigeria.

Before the visa ban Nigerians were major travellers to Dubai. UAE, UK, US and Saudi Arabia ere major destinations of Nigerian travellers.

The country has designed the UAE Tourism Strategy 2031, which comes under the ‘Projects of the 50’ as one of the biggest projects of the coming years

According to the postings on the United Arab Emirates Government portal, the country’s tourism strategy includes 25 initiatives and policies to support the development of the UAE’s tourism sector.

The UAE Tourism Strategy 2031 comes under the ‘Project of the 50’ as one of the biggest projects of the next years and the strategy aims to:raise the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP to AED 450 billion, with an annual increase of AED 27 billion; strengthen the position of the UAE as one of the best destinations in the world for tourism; boost competitiveness by attracting AED 100 billion as additional tourism investments and welcome 40 million hotel guests. 

This strategy also includes 25 initiatives and policies to support the development of the UAE’s tourism sector. It is based on four key directions: strengthening the unified national tourism identity; developing and diversifying specialised tourism products; building tourism capabilities and encouraging the contribution of national cadres in the tourism sector; increasing investments in all tourism sectors.



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