The United Arab Emirates has halted giving new visas to people from 13 Muslim-majority nations, Reuters has exclusively reported. The Gulf Arab emirate has not officially announced the halting of visa processing from these countries. The agency reported the news citing a document issued by a state-owned business park. The document explains that the ban has been slapped over security concerns.
The document, which has been circulated to major business parks, cites an immigration circular that came into effect on November 18, Reuters says.
The other countries whose citizens are prohibited from entering the emirate are Algeria, Kenya, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia and Afghanistan it says.
Terror Strikes in Saudi Arabia
The rare decision to slap a ban on visas from a string of mainly Muslim nations comes amid the spiraling threat perception in the Middle East following the Prophet cartoon row in France. The Islamic State (ISIS) carried out a striking terror attack in Saudi Arabia earlier this month, targeting foreign diplomats.
The bomb attack at the Remembrance Day ceremony at a non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah had injured several people. Diplomats from western nations were attending the ceremony when the attack took place. Embassy staff from France, Greece, Italy, the UK and the US were in attendance and some of them were wounded in the attack.
Before that, in October, a guard at the French consulate in Jeddah was stabbed by a Saudi citizen.
The UAE government's visa ban on select countries comes two months after Abu Dhabi normalized relations with Israel. The move had angered many in the Islamic world, especially in countries like Iran, Turkey and Pakistan. While the world at large hailed the move, brokered by US president Donald Trump, the critics accused UAE of reneging on the Palestinian cause.
US Warned of Terror Strikes in Gulf
On October 28, the US embassy in the UAE issued an advisory warning American citizens of the chance of terror attacks in the Gulf.
"The Department of State remains concerned about the global threat of terrorism, including the possibility of terrorist attacks against US citizens and interests in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula," the communique said.
"Terrorist organizations continue to plan attacks against Western targets; these attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, including suicide operations, assassination, kidnapping, hijacking, and bombing," it warned.