Hundreds of Nigerians are now exploring other destinations after Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) slammed a total visa ban on them in October.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that before the ban on Nigerian businessmen, Dubai had first tightened visa requirements for applicants from Nigeria.
For now, only Nigerians with diplomatic passports and few others have easy access to Dubai.
Dubai was hitherto the destination of choice for many Nigerians for many purposes, including business, education, leisure and medical tourism.
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But following the ban, many Nigerians are now travelling to Egypt, Morocco and other countries.
While there is no official statement from the UAE on the reason for the ban, some people are suggesting the untoward attitudes of some Nigerians.
Before the ban, there were many reports about Nigerians being arrested in the UAE for alleged theft and cybercrime. Some were tried and incarcerated while others were repatriated back home.
The near official statement on the ban was from a Destination Management Company (DMC), licensed to issue electronic visas in the UAE, which announced in a statement that Dubai immigration had stopped approving visas for Nigerians.
In a statement, the DMC said: “All previously submitted applications are currently on hold. Kindly note this is beyond our control. We will update once visas start getting approved.”
Declining business fortunes
Following the declining load factors, most airlines, including Emirates and Air Peace, suspended flights to Dubai.
Many travel agents said they had lost business due to the development, even as findings by one of our correspondents revealed that the travel agents are now advertising Egypt, Morocco, and Seychelles, among others, to holidaymakers, businessmen and women and the sick.
President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs Susan Akporiaye, said many Nigerians were now exploring other destinations for tourism.
She said, “Nigerians are already changing plans to go to Egypt and Morocco, but then these two countries require visa processes, but Egypt has made it a bit easier now.
“If you have a valid US or UK visa, you can also get your visa on arrival in Egypt.”
She noted that Dubai would be losing huge revenue generated from Nigerians, especially during the yuletide.
But the Director of Corporate Travels, Zenith Travel, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, said Dubai was not losing anything for not admitting Nigerians.
He said, “The UAE has nothing to lose. They have massive investments and massive structures in tourism and travel. It is not a problem if they are not admitting Nigerians.
“The UAE has developed its tourism beyond looking at only one route; beyond Nigeria, that is what they have done to their aviation and tourism.”
A Nigerian businesswoman, Mrs Khadijat, said she had not been able to travel to Dubai since the visa ban, noting that her suppliers usually sent her goods through another country which cost more money to clear.
She said, “This is the only option we have now, but it is really not easy when you look at it. Most of these abayas (flowing gowns for women) we buy from Dubai, we don’t really get enough profit from them. And sending our items through another country has added to the cost of logistics.”
Official trade balance
According to data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) in 2020, Nigeria exported goods worth N134bn ($321m) to the UAE.
OEC said the main products that Nigeria exported were gold ($217m), crude petroleum ($53.5m) and oily seeds ($16m).
On the other hand, the UAE exported goods worth N489bn ($1.14bn) to Nigeria. These included broadcasting equipment ($152m), refined petroleum ($119m) and cars ($118m).
This shows that the trade balance favours the UAE as more of its goods entered the Nigerian economy.
We now go to Turkey – Importer
An importer of clothes and a variety of other things in Kano, Abdullahi Ibrahim, told Daily Trust Saturday that the hardship in getting a visa to Dubai had forced most importers in Kano to visit Turkey to get their goods.
Ibrahim explained that this was coupled with the increase in taxes by authorities in Dubai thereby making the import of goods more costly.
On what he thinks led to the ban on Nigerians, he said, “Nigerians are doing drugs and other social vices there. That was why they came up with the law to restrict Nigerians because they felt Nigerians will bring bad things into the country.”
He, however, noted that Dubai was also losing a lot because it used to generate a lot of revenue from Nigerians.
He said, “The effect now is that there is low patronage of goods from Dubai because most Nigerian importers go to Turkey or Qatar.
“Also, shop owners in Dubai are mostly from India, Bangladesh and others, but due to heavy taxation, we have mostly opted for Turkey because sales there will make us get more profit.”
Sarki Arabii Muhammad, who owns babies’ clothes shops across the country, often travelled to Dubai for business before the ban.
He explained that Dubai had many advantages for business people over other countries as one could buy different types of goods during a single trip.
He said, “I was purchasing the majority of my goods from Dubai because of the many advantages, including the fact that your goods will arrive within two days, unlike other places where your goods can spend over two weeks.
“One of the alternatives we have now is to buy online, but that is not as effective as being there physically. The other alternative is to try other countries, but the goods are not available as they are in Dubai.”
He further said, “I came back from Indonesia a few days ago, but I doubt if I will gain anything. Also, I didn’t get as many goods as I wanted.”
He, therefore, called on Nigerian authorities to intervene and ensure that the issue was resolved.
A businesswoman, Aisha Jajere, said the ban on Nigerian visitors by the Dubai authorities had affected many businesses in the Arab country.
She said, “It is negatively impacting the businesses of hoteliers and tourism destinations in Dubai.”
A travel agent in Kano, Dr Jamilu Umar, said China had replaced Dubai for Nigerian businessmen and women, noting that the ban had really affected their fortunes and praying that the stalemate would be resolved soon.
He added that: “One of our alternatives now is travelling to Saudi Arabia for Lesser Hajj and using the opportunity to buy goods.”