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Nigerians are praising the lifting of a visa ban by the United Arab Emirates following a meeting in Abu Dhabi this week between President Bola Tinubu and United Arab Emirates President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Nigerian authorities also secured an investment deal worth billions of dollars, according to the presidency.
Nigerian presidential spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale said Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates have established a framework for investments worth billions of dollars across multiple sectors, including defense and agriculture.
Speaking to Lagos-based Channels Television, Ngelale said the pact also resulted in the immediate lifting of a visa ban imposed by the UAE in October 2022.
“What we’ve done today is to not only normalize relations but then to add new dimensions to that relationship or partnership that are mutually beneficial to both nations,” he said. “And I think as we move forward, the details of those investments will become clear.”
The UAE imposed the visa ban on Nigeria in connection with a number of diplomatic disputes.
Dubai’s Emirates airline also suspended flight operations to Nigeria over Abuja’s inability to send the UAE an estimated $85 million in revenue that Dubai said had been blocked in the African nation. The monies could not be repatriated due to dollar shortages.
Additionally, the UAE’s Etihad Airways stopped flights to Nigeria.
But Ngelale said Emirates and Etihad airlines are expected to resume operations immediately without any payment by the Nigerian government.
The spokesperson also said Tinubu successfully negotiated a new foreign exchange liquidity program with the UAE.
Nigerian experts such as economist Emeka Orji welcomed the president’s move as a step that could reverse negative economic trends.
“It should be a no-brainer for them to reverse it,” Orji said. “The major chunk of their tourism, whether it is education or for holidays, Nigeria would show up on the list of its major tourism income-earning countries.”
In a recent statement, the UAE’s official Emirates News Agency noted that its leader and Tinubu explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration in areas that served the sustainable economic growth of both countries.
The statement, however, did not go into detail about the lifting of the visa ban on Nigerians and the resumption of flights.
Orji says there will be a positive impact.
“International relations between the two countries will likely lead to an increase in economic activity,” he said. “There may be some interest in investing in some sectors in Nigeria. That would be an obvious gain for Nigeria.”
For now, experts said they hope the new pact is fully implemented for both countries to benefit.