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UAE Secured "Temporary" Visa Ban to Check COVID, Says Pakistan

UAE Secured "Temporary" Visa Ban to Check COVID, Says Pakistan

Pakistan says the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has assured it that the abrupt visa ban imposed last month is "temporary in nature" and was imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement issued Sunday by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said that Gulf State Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan "[reaffirmed] the UAE's appreciation of the 1.5 million members of the Pakistani community and their active contribution to the growth and prosperity of the country. "

The statement came days after Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi concluded his two-day trip to the United Arab Emirates with the aim of seeking a resolution to the visa ban.

On November 18, the United Arab Emirates abruptly stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 countries, mainly Muslim-majority, over "security concerns," according to a report by the Reuters news agency.

The countries were Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and Yemen. Citizens of those countries who were already in the UAE did not appear to be affected by the new restrictions.

The UAE said applications for new jobs and visit visas for citizens of these Muslim-majority nations were suspended until further notice.

Qureshi took a two-day trip to the UAE earlier this week and met with his UAE counterpart and other senior officials to discuss various issues, including the stalemate in issuing new visas.

“The Pakistani community and our diaspora in the UAE have contributed significantly to the progress and development of the UAE and it is recognized and appreciated and we are grateful for that. There are some issues of concern that I discussed and I look forward to a resolution from them, ”Qureshi said at a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

The day before that, Qureshi held talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, who also serves as the UAE's prime minister, vice president and defense minister, in Dubai about the visa ban.

The UAE is home to the second largest population of Pakistanis abroad in the world, according to government data, and is a key source of foreign exchange for Pakistan in the form of remittances from those workers at home.

Last month, approximately 1.5 million Pakistanis in the UAE sent home $ 519.5 million, accounting for 22 percent of all foreign remittances and ranking second overall in remittances by country, according to data from the central bank of Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia tops that list, with Pakistani workers sending home $ 615.1 million in November.

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