Just a month after signing a visa waiver agreement with Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has stopped issuing visas to citizens of 13 countries including Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Most of these 13 countries are Muslim majority nations.
According to a report of Reuters, the UAE has temporarily stopped the visas being issued to these countries over security concerns, however, no details are available as yet. The relevant document reportedly seen by Reuters cited an immigration circular that came into effect on November 18. The document said that the applications for new employment and visit visas had been suspended for nationals of 13 countries. The counties affected by this ban are Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Algeria, Kenya, Iraq, Lebanon, and Tunisia.
The circular came a week after the French Embassy in the UAE asked its citizens to stay vigil following a bomb attack on diplomats in Saudi Arabia, the responsibility for which was taken by the Islamic State. The bomb blast had occurred during a World War One commemoration day ceremony in Jeddah. The report said that the ban on visa was meant for a temporary period, and it was not known whether there is any exemption.
UAE-Israel visa waiver agreement
The decision is significant in the light of recent improvements in UAE-Israel relations. Just a month ago, the two nations had signed a visa waiver agreement, allowing citizens of the countries to visit each other without requiring a visa. The two countries had signed several agreements after the US-brokered peace agreement signed in September. Apart from the visa waiver, UAE and Israel had also signed agreements on cooperation in aviation, investment, science and technology.
After signing the visa waiver agreement on October 19 in Tel Aviv, UAE had ratified it on 1st November, and Israel ratified the agreement on 23rd November. This is the first such agreement between an Arab nation and a Jewish nation.