ABU DHABI, UAE: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has stopped issuing new work visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon, Somalia, Yemen and Algeria.
The decision was seen in a document issued by a state-owned business park, which was sent to companies operating in the park.
The document cited an immigration circular that came into effect on November 18.
It said applications for new employment and visit visas had been suspended for nationals who are outside the UAE of the 13 countries – which also include Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Kenya, and Iraq – until further notice.
It was not clear if there were any exceptions to the ban.
The move comes in contrast to the UAE’s decision to waive visas for Israeli citizens following a controversial normalisation agreement signed in September. The agreement was perceived by Palestinian and Arab public opinion as an act of betrayal of the struggle against Israeli occupation.
The UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship had no immediate comments.
The media reports revealed that the UAE had temporarily stopped issuing new visas to Afghans, Pakistanis and citizens of several other countries over security concerns.
It is, however, unclear, what those concerns were that has prompted the country to implement a visa ban.
Last week, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the UAE had stopped processing new visas for its citizens and those of some other countries.
It said it was seeking information from the UAE on the reason for the suspension, but that it thought it was related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pakistani ministry and the source said those holding valid visas were not affected by the new restrictions and could enter the UAE.