President Tinubu in UAE to Seek Resolution Over Emirates Flight Suspension and Visa Ban

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Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu is set to meet with UAE leadership today at 5 pm UAE time. The primary agenda for this high-level meeting is to address the suspension of Emirates Airlines flights to Nigeria, the UAE’s visa ban on Nigerians, and other related diplomatic matters.

The Minister for Aviation and Aerospace Management, Festus Keyamo, who made this known, embarked on a journey to the Middle-Eastern nation on Sunday night to engage in discussions with President Tinubu, who had a stopover in the UAE following his participation in the G20 summit held in India.

Minister Festus Keyamo confirmed his arrival in Abu Dhabi and the planned meeting between Nigerian and UAE officials. He emphasized the importance of the discussions, stating, “I am in Abu Dhabi to join Mr. President to sort out the twin issues of Dubai visas and Emirates flights to Nigeria. Both leaders are meeting by 5 pm today.”

The root of this diplomatic standoff can be traced back to October 2022 when the UAE imposed a visa ban on Nigerians. Shortly thereafter, Emirates Airlines suspended its flights to Nigeria. These actions were reportedly taken in response to Nigeria’s perceived delay in repatriating significant sums of funds trapped in the UAE.

The situation escalated further when Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, which had been operating flights to Dubai, suspended its services due to the UAE’s suspension of visa issuance to prospective travelers from Nigeria.

In an attempt to address these issues, President Tinubu held a meeting with Salem Saeed Al-Shamsi, the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, at Aso Rock last month. During this meeting, the President emphasized the need for a swift resolution to the problems affecting relations between the two countries, particularly regarding Emirates Airlines and visa issuance to Nigerians.

President Tinubu stressed the familial ties between Nigeria and the UAE, describing the issues as “family problems” that should be resolved amicably. He underscored the importance of cooperation on core aviation and immigration matters.

In a recent announcement, the Presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, confirmed President Tinubu’s upcoming meeting with UAE authorities. This diplomatic mission holds the potential to pave the way for the resumption of Emirates Airlines flights to Nigeria and the lifting of the UAE’s visa ban on Nigerians, fostering improved relations between the two nations.

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