Thousands of Africans who had been unable to travel to Dubai and other cities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may have heaved a sigh of relief as the travel ban imposed on twelve African nations would be lifted on January 29 at 2.30 pm. UAE lifts travel ban on twelve African countries.
The ban was initially imposed as part of measures to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The UAE had imposed the ban on the twelve nations in the wake of the outbreak of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
The countries from where transit passengers will be allowed into the UAE include Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. In addition, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) also updated the entry measures for travelers coming in from three other African countries: Uganda, Ghana, and Rwanda.
It is not all clear if Nigerian flag carrier Air Peace will begin services to Dubai. Emirates has said that it will resume direct services to South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe from January 29, but Nigeria is not on the airline’s list. Nigeria and the UAE have yet to back down on their stance and communicate to each other when flight services can resume between the two nations following the diplomatic standoff since February 2021.
Nigeria and UAE wait on each other
A source from Emirates who pleaded anonymity said the two nations would need to formally write to each other to end the face-off which would lead to flight resumption, adding that it is only then that “we can say that the matter has been amicably resolved.”
Nigeria, through the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and the Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Musa Nuhu, had canceled Emirates’ winter 21 frequencies to Abuja and Lagos when the GCAA stopped Air Peace’s seven frequencies to Dubai, saying that it could not guarantee the carrier slots in Dubai Airport.
The carrier had resumed operations to Lagos and Abuja on December 5th after the initial face-off over modalities for the COVID-19 test which the Nigerian government faulted. The reduction of the airline’s 21 frequencies to one forced Air Peace to withdraw its services to Dubai.
Later, the UAE imposed harsh conditions to frustrate Nigerians wishing to travel to Dubai by warning other carriers not to bring Nigerians to Dubai or the UAE.
The action threw inbound and outbound Nigerian travelers into a fresh round of travel chaos as the UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) and the GCAA suspended entry for passengers from Nigeria and three other African countries.
The other nations affected were Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia. The travel rule made Nigerians wishing to come home for the Yuletide engage in last-minute flight change to other European, African, and US carriers.
The implication of the new travel rule was that Nigerians could not use the other available Abu Dhabi-based airline, Etihad, which saw an unprecedented rise in passenger traffic as an alternative to Emirates after it suspended services.
Passengers arriving from Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya in the UAE must have a negative Covid-19 test obtained within 48 hours of departure from the approved labs in their respective countries. Furthermore, they are required to undergo a rapid PCR test at the airports of departure. On arrival in the UAE, they will be subjected to another PCR test.
UAE airlines such as Emirates had previously suspended flights to several African destinations as a result of the directive. As per a previous directive from the airline, effective December 28, it said that customers originating from Tanzania and Ethiopia would not be accepted for travel to or through Dubai. It had also altogether canceled flights from the Republic of Kenya, Lusaka, Harare, Lagos, Abuja, and Casablanca.
In the neighboring emirate of Abu Dhabi, authorities have earlier this month revised its green list by removing countries such as the UK, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Russia, and Lebanon from it. Simultaneously, Algeria, Morocco, Seychelles, and Tunisia were added to that list. All travelers arriving from the green list destinations are exempt from mandatory quarantine measures after landing in Abu Dhabi.