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UAE stops issuing new visas to citizens of 13 Arab and Muslim-majority countries

There has been no official explanation as to why the countries, which include Turkey, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, were targeted by the ban
The flags of US, Israel, UAE and Bahrain are projected on the ramparts of Jerusalem's Old City on 15 September 2020 in a show of support for Israeli normalisation deals (AFP)

The United Arab Emirates has stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon, Somalia, Yemen and Algeria.

According to Reuters, 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 18 November.

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 comment when contacted by Reuters.

A source briefed on the matter told Reuters the UAE had temporarily stopped issuing new visas to Afghans, Pakistanis and citizens of several other countries over security concerns.

The source did not say what those concerns were, but said the visa ban was expected to last for a short period.

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.