The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has confirmed that it would begin the issuance of visas to Nigerians from Thursday, October 8, 2020.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced this on Tuesday.
“UAE confirmed that they will begin issuance of Visas from the 8th of October, 2020. Travelers to have a return ticket, hotel booking, negative PCR result & Health insurance (similar to Schengen requirement). Health insurance can be paid through travel agents/airline,” the Minister tweeted.
UAE confirmed that they will begin issuance of Visas from 8th of October, 2020. Travelers to have a return ticket, hotel booking, negative PCR result & a Health insurance (similar to Schengen requirement). Health insurance can be paid through travel agents/airline. 🇳🇬🇳🇬🇳🇬🇳🇬
Sirika had earlier on September 30 announced that the UAE had written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, a development that made the Federal Government lift the ban it had earlier placed on Emirates Airlines.
“UAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria,” the minister had tweeted.
Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and their rivals Fatah in the occupied West Bank agreed Thursday to hold the first Palestinian elections since 2006, united by their opposition to Arab-Israeli normalisation deals.
Polls will be scheduled within six months under a deal reached between Fatah leader Mahmud Abbas and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, officials from both sides told AFP.
“We have agreed to first hold legislative elections, then presidential elections of the Palestinian Authority, and finally the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO),” said Jibril Rajub, a senior Fatah official.
The last Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 saw Hamas win an unexpected landslide and the following year the Islamists seized control of the Gaza Strip in a near-civil war between the two factions.
Saleh al-Arouri, a top Hamas official, said the deal was reached during meetings held in Turkey.
“This time we reached a real consensus,” he said, speaking to AFP by phone from Istanbul.
“Divisions have damaged our national cause and we are working to end that,” he added.
The intra-Palestinian reconciliation attempts took on greater urgency after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalised relations with Israel, becoming only the third and fourth Arab nations to do so.
Egypt and Jordan respectively signed peace deals with the Jewish state in 1979 and 1994.
– ‘Long overdue’ –
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the announcement to convene new elections, saying it was a “long overdue” move to “revitalise and unify” Palestinian ranks.
“The promising developments emerging from talks between Fatah and Hamas are welcome news for the Palestinian people,” Ashrawi said in a statement.
“Ending the ongoing rift in the political system is a pressing priority that is long overdue.”
Ashrawi called on Palestinian factions “to include women and youth in advanced positions in their electoral tickets”.
She also urged the international community to “ensure that Israel does not hamper or obstruct” the vote.
The 2006 Palestinians polls resulted in a brief unity government, but it soon collapsed and in 2007 bloody clashes erupted in the Gaza Strip between the two principal Palestinian factions.
Hamas has since ruled Gaza, while Fatah has run the Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Numerous attempts at reconciliation, including a prisoner exchange agreement in 2012 and a short-lived coalition government two years later, have failed to close the rift.
Including PLO elections in the agreement paves the way for Hamas to join the organisation, which unites various Palestinian factions including Fatah.
The PLO signed the 1993 Oslo peace accords with Israel, which have long since floundered.
Fatah has not said whether Abbas will seek re-election in the proposed polls.
The 84-year-old has been in office since the 2005 presidential election, when he won 62 percent of the vote.
According to a rare poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Research carried out earlier this year, Hamas’s Haniyeh would beat Abbas in a presidential election.
The Fatah leader has repeatedly pledged elections over the past decade, but hurdles remain in spite of the Hamas deal.
Enabling Palestinian residents of occupied east Jerusalem to vote will prove particularly challenging, as Israel controls the city and prevents Palestinian officials from working there.
The accords between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain — both inked at the White House on September 15 — broke with decades of Arab consensus that ties with the Jewish state should not be established until it has signed a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.
Turkey and Iran, both Muslim non-Arab nations, have been the most vociferous countries in opposing normalisation.
Ankara has “an ambition to lead” the Palestinian cause, pointing to “the hypocrisy of both Arab states and the West for not emphasising” the cause enough, according to Gallia Lindenstrauss of Israel’s National Institute for Security Research.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will be responsible for any “consequences” resulting from their normalisation of relations with Tehran’s arch-foe Israel.
The remarks came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed agreements establishing full diplomatic ties at a ceremony at the White House.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Rouhani said Israel was “committing more crimes in Palestine every day”.
“Some of the region’s countries, their people are pious Muslims but their rulers neither understand religion nor (their) debt… to the nation of Palestine, to their brothers speaking their language,” he said in televised remarks.
“How could you reach out your hands to Israel? And then you want to give them bases in the region? All the severe consequences that would arise from this are on you.”
US President Donald Trump said similar Washington-brokered deals were close between Israel and several Arab countries, including Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia.
“After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump said.
An aide to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that some Gulf states had become “puppets” of the US and Israel in the “vain hope” of getting their support.
“They have pinned their hopes on nothing and built a house on water, and they will pay for this cowardly act,” foreign affairs adviser Ali Akbar Velayati was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
The remarks were made during a meeting of the council of the “International Society for the Islamic Awakening”, Tasnim said.
Iran had previously warned Bahrain that its deal made it a partner to Israel’s “crimes” and accused the UAE of betraying the Muslim world.
In 2016, Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Iran and the UAE downgraded relations amid rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic republic.
Sunni-ruled Bahrain has faced long-running unrest among its large Shiite community that it has consistently blamed on Iran.
The National Bank of Dubai, the largest banking group in the emirate, signed a memorandum of understanding Monday with Israel’s Bank Hapoalim, on the eve of the UAE-Israel normalisation accord signing.
“It is a great honour to be the first bank to sign such an agreement that will contribute to the establishment of the relationship between the two countries,” Bank Hapoalim’s CEO, Dov Kotler, said in a statement issued by NBD.
It said the MoU was “part of a broader engagement between the UAE and Israel to further peace, dialogue and stability and establish cooperation to promote sustainable development”.
An Israeli business and banking delegation arrived in Dubai last Tuesday on the first such visit since the August 13 announcement of a normalisation of ties between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a member.
On Tuesday in Washington, both the UAE and fellow Gulf state Bahrain are to sign normalisation accords with Israel.
Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow UAE flights to “all countries” to overfly the kingdom, state media reported Wednesday, days after allowing an Israeli aircraft to pass over en route to Abu Dhabi.
Saudi Arabia has accepted an Emirati request to allow “crossing the kingdom’s airspace for flights heading to the UAE and departing from it to all countries”, the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing a source from the civil aviation authority.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meanwhile announced that Monday’s historic first commercial flight of an Israeli aircraft direct to the United Arab Emirates across Saudi Arabia would not be the last.
“Israeli planes and those from all countries will be able to fly directly from Israel to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and back,” Netanyahu said, without giving any timeline.
The announcements come after a US-Israeli delegation visited Abu Dhabi on Monday, on the first direct commercial flight from Tel Aviv to mark the normalisation of ties between the Jewish state and the UAE.
Saudi Arabia has said it will not follow the United Arab Emirates in establishing diplomatic ties with Israel until the Jewish state has signed an internationally recognised peace accord with the Palestinians.
But the kingdom has cultivated clandestine relations with Israel in recent years, in a shift spearheaded by de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In a sign of its cooperation with Israel, Saudi Arabia allowed Monday’s historic flight to cross its airspace, halving what would otherwise have been a long detour around the Arabian peninsula.
However, Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy and home to Islam’s holiest sites, faces more sensitive political calculations than the UAE.
Not only would a formal recognition of Israel be seen by Palestinians and their supporters as a betrayal of their cause, it would also hurt the kingdom’s image as the leader of the Islamic world.
In 2002, Saudi Arabia sponsored the Arab Peace Initiative which called for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967 and an equitable solution for Palestinian refugees, in exchange for peace and the full normalisation of relations.
But a shared animosity towards Iran, along with Saudi attempts to attract foreign investment to fund Prince Mohammed’s ambitious Vision 2030 economic diversification plan, appear to be pushing the kingdom closer to Israel than ever.
A US-Israeli delegation including White House advisor Jared Kushner took off Monday on a historic first direct commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi to mark the normalisation of ties between the Jewish state and the UAE.
The word “peace” was written in Arabic, English and Hebrew on the cockpit of the plane of Israel’s national carrier El Al that took off around 11:20 am (0820 GMT) and was expected to land in the Emirates in the afternoon.
“While this is a historic flight, we hope that it will start an even more historic journey in the Middle East and beyond,” Kushner, who is President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a key architect of his Middle East policy, said before boarding.
“The future does not have to be predetermined by the past. This is a very hopeful time.”
The flight number El Al 971 is a reference to the UAE’s international dialling code, and the return flight, set to leave Abu Dhabi on Tuesday morning, is El Al 972, matching Israel’s dialling code.
The Israel-UAE agreement to normalise ties was announced by Trump on August 13, making the UAE the first Gulf country and only the third Arab nation to establish relations with Israel.
Unlike Egypt, which made peace with its former battlefield enemy in 1979, and Jordan, which followed in 1994, the UAE has never fought a war with Israel.
The unprecedented flight also passed through Saudi airspace, according to data from the specialist website FlightRadar24, and marked the most concrete sign yet that Israel’s thaw with major Arab powers is taking hold.
Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, who was also on the flight to the UAE, said “our goal is to achieve a joint working plan to advance relations in a very broad range of areas.
“This morning, the traditional blessing ‘go in peace’ receives special meaning for us,” he was quoted as saying in an English-language government statement.
– ‘Sparks fly’ –
The talks in Abu Dhabi aim to boost cooperation between the two regional economic powerhouses in areas including aviation, tourism, trade, health, energy and security.
An Israeli government statement said there would be “working meetings of joint teams on a range of issues ahead of the signing of cooperation agreements in the civil and economic spheres”.
The visit will also include a trilateral meeting between Kushner, Ben-Shabbat and UAE National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, it said.
Israel’s health ministry had late Sunday updated its list of “green countries” with low coronavirus infection rates to include the UAE and eight other countries.
The change meant the Israeli officials and journalists travelling to Abu Dhabi would be exempted from a 14-day quarantine upon return.
Since the agreement between the UAE and Israel was unveiled, there have been phone calls between their ministers, and on Saturday the Emirates in a new milestone repealed a 1972 law boycotting Israel.
“It will be permissible to enter, exchange or possess Israeli goods and products of all kinds in the UAE and trade in them,” read a decree issued by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking alongside Kushner in Jerusalem on Sunday, praised “the swift pace of normalisation” between his country and the UAE.
Noting the UAE’s Saturday move, Netanyahu said it “opens the door” for “unbridled trade, tourism, investments, exchanges between the Middle East’s two most advanced economies”.
“You will see how the sparks fly on this. It’s already happening,” he said, predicting that “today’s breakthroughs will become tomorrow’s norms. “It will pave the way for other countries to normalise their ties with Israel.”
“There are many more unpublicised meetings with Arab and Muslim leaders to normalise relations with the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said without naming any countries.
As part of the normalisation agreement, Israel agreed to suspend its planned annexations in the occupied West Bank, although Netanyahu quickly insisted the plans remained on the table in the long run.
The Palestinians dubbed the UAE’s agreement with Israel a “stab in the back” as it opens parts of the Arab world to the Jewish state while their own conflict remains unresolved.
Saudi Arabia, in keeping with decades of policy by most Arab states, says it will not follow the UAE’s example until Israel has signed a peace deal with the Palestinians establishing an independent Palestinian state.
Israel’s prime minister and the US top diplomat voiced hope Monday the Jewish state would soon build ties with more Arab countries, following its landmark normalisation of relations with the United Arab Emirates.
Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who started a Mideast tour in Jerusalem, both praised the US-brokered deal as a milestone toward bringing stability to the turbulent region.
“I’m very hopeful that we will see other Arab nations join in this,” said Pompeo, who was also set to visit Sudan, Bahrain and the UAE on a five-day regional tour.
Netanyahu hailed the Israel-UAE agreement as “a boon to peace and regional stability” which “heralds a new era where we could have other nations join”.
“I hope we’ll have good news in the future, maybe in the near future,” he said.
Netanyahu called Israel’s agreement with the Emirates, the first of its kind in a quarter century with an Arab state, an “alliance of the moderates against the radicals”.
Washington and its close ally hope Israel will be able to normalise ties with other regional countries traditionally hostile to it, in part to forge a stronger regional alliance against their common arch foe Iran.
Pompeo again stressed US President Donald Trump’s goal that “Iran will never have a nuclear weapon” and urged the international community to maintain an arms embargo on the Islamic republic.
– ‘Legacy of hostility’ –
Israel had previously only signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which unlike the UAE share borders with Israel and had technically been at war with the Jewish state.
The pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Hayom said Sunday that direct talks with the UAE on the wording of the deal were close to starting and that “a full agreement could be reached within a month”.
Under the US-brokered agreement announced on August 13, Israel pledged to suspend its previous plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, without saying for how long.
The Palestinians have slammed the UAE’s move as a “stab in the back” while their own conflict with the Jewish state remains unresolved.
The Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, Monday charged that the Israel-UAE deal helps “maintain crimes and violations” against the Palestinians.
It urged regional and world leaders to “break their silence to bring an end” to the Gaza blockade.
In the latest upsurge of violence, Israel has bombed the coastal strip almost daily since August 6, while balloons carrying fire bombs and, less frequently, rocket fire have hit Israel from Gaza.
– Bahrain, Oman, Sudan? –
The Israel-Emirati pact has sparked speculation on which regional country might be next, with frequent mentions made of Bahrain and Sudan.
Israel remains technically at war with Sudan, which for years had supported hardline Islamist forces but which is turning its back on the era of strongman Omar al-Bashir who was ousted last year.
The State Department said Pompeo would meet Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok during his tour, to “express support for deepening the Sudan-Israel relationship”.
Pompeo will also meet Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa before talks with UAE foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, it said.
Saudi Arabia, in keeping with decades of policy by the majority of Arab states, has said it will not follow the UAE’s example until Israel has signed a peace deal with the Palestinians.
Israel and the UAE say they want to promote trade, especially the sale of Emirati oil to Israel and Israeli technology to the UAE, establish direct air links and boost tourism.
Netanyahu has denied reports that the UAE deal hinges on the sale of US F-35 stealth fighter-jets to the Emirates, saying he opposes a move that could reduce Israel’s strategic edge in the region.
“This deal did not include Israel’s acceptance of any arms deal,” he said Monday.
Pompeo said the US was determined to help UAE defend itself against Iran and would do it “in a way that preserves our commitments to Israel”.
“The United States has a legal requirement with respect to (Israel’s) qualitative military edge. We will continue to honour that,” he said.
“But we have a 20-plus year security relationship with the United Arab Emirates as well, where we have provided them with technical assistance and military assistance.”
Washington, Pompeo said, would “continue to review that process to continue to make sure that we’re delivering them the equipment that they need to secure and defend their own people.”
More Nigerians stranded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have continued to return home following the evacuation of 252 persons from the Arab country on Saturday.
Disclosing this in a tweet on its official handle, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) said the evacuees landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos via an Emirates Airline flight.
BREAKING NEWS EVACUATION UPDATE:
252 Stranded Nigerians in Dubai, United Arab Emirates arrived Murtala Muhammed Int’l Airport, Lagos today Saturday 22nd August 2020 via Emirates Airline.
More evacuees – 174 – are expected to return to the country from the UAE on the 25th of August, 2020, according to the agency, with their flight paid for by the government of the Asian nation.
“This will bring the total number of Nigerians evacuated gratis by Dubai authorities to 1,071,” the statement added.
All evacuees, prior to their departure, NIDCOM said, had tested negative to COVID-19 but will be undergoing self-isolation in line with guidelines set by the Federal Government and other relevant health agencies.
The UAE is one of the countries where a good number of Nigerians have been repatriated since the outbreak of the pandemic halted international flights.
On August 12th, two hundred and ninety-two Nigerians returned from the country.
During a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Monday, August 13th, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha had, however, said evacuation flights would end on the 25th of the month.
He noted that the decision was to enable international airline operators to prepare for the resumption of international flights which was halted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The oil-rich United Arab Emirates announced Wednesday that it has connected its Barakah nuclear power plant to the national grid in a new first for the Arab world.
The milestone follows the successful start-up of the plant’s first reactor at the end of last month and launches the UAE on the road to meeting 25 percent of its electricity needs from nuclear power.
“The safe and successful connection of Unit 1 to the UAE grid marks the key moment when we begin to deliver on our mission to power the growth of the nation by supplying clean electricity, around the clock,” said Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation CEO Mohamed Ibrahim al-Hammadi.
“We are confident in our people and our technology to continue to progress to reach… the completion of the remaining three units, with the goal to power up to 25 percent of the UAE’s electricity needs for at least the next 60 years.”
The plant on the Gulf coast west of Abu Dhabi had been due to go online in late 2017 but faced a number of delays that officials attributed to safety and regulatory requirements.
The UAE has substantial oil and gas reserves, but with a power-hungry population of 10 million it has made huge investments in developing clean alternatives, including solar energy.
Barakah, which means “blessing” in Arabic, is a regional first.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has said it plans to build up to 16 nuclear reactors, but the project has yet to materialise.
Barakah was built by a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation at a cost of some $24.4 billion.
More than 950 kilometres (nearly 600 miles) of 400 kV overhead power lines had to be built to link the plant to the grid.
Barakah’s other three reactors are said to be almost ready for operation.
Construction work has already been completed on Unit 2, and Units 3 and 4 are respectively 93 percent and 86 percent complete.
The UAE lies just across the Gulf from Iran which has a nuclear power plant of its own outside the coastal city of Bushehr, as well as a controversial uranium enrichment programme.
The UAE has repeatedly said its nuclear ambitions are for “peaceful purposes” and has ruled out developing any enrichment programme or nuclear reprocessing technologies.
It has also moved to dispel any concerns over safety, underlining that the plant has welcomed more than 40 international reviews and inspection missions.
Nearby Qatar, the target of a boycott by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others since June 2017, said last year the Barakah plant poses a “flagrant threat to regional peace and environment”.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel is working on opening a corridor over Saudi Arabia for flights to the UAE, following last week’s historic deal to normalise ties.
“We are working with maximum energy, and we have already begun to work on opening an air route over Saudi Arabia, which will simply shorten flights between Israel and the UAE,” he said during a visit to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.
“I estimate that we will reach an agreement that will genuinely allow direct flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai,” he said. “It is a major revolution.”
In March 2018, Air India launched the first scheduled service to Israel allowed to cross Saudi airspace.
It was seen at the time as a sign of a behind-the-scenes improvement in ties between the Arab kingdom and the Jewish state.
During a May 2017 Middle East tour, US President Donald Trump flew from Riyadh to Tel Aviv on Air Force One, in a first known direct flights from Saudi Arabia to Israel.
A surprise announcement from Trump last Thursday revealed that the United Arab Emirates and Israel have decided to normalise relations.
It is only the third such accord Israel has struck with an Arab country, and raises the prospect of similar deals with other pro-Western Gulf states.
Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia has been conspicuously silent on the deal, with no official reaction emerging from Riyadh.
Netanyahu said the deal would not only change Israel’s aviation options, but also its maritime trade.
“Dubai has the largest free trade zones in the world,” he said.
“Now these goods will — under the peace agreement –- reach the State of Israel and lower the prices of products.”
In a letter to UAE leader Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin welcomed the deal.
“In these fateful days, leadership is measured by its courage and ability to be groundbreaking and far-sighted,” he wrote in Arabic.
“I make no secret of my hope that this move will also serve as a beacon, illuminating the road ahead for others,” he wrote, extending an invitation to Sheikh Mohamed to visit Israel.
Firms from the United Arab Emirates and Israel have signed an agreement to jointly develop research and studies on the novel coronavirus, the UAE’s state WAM agency reported.
The business deal comes days after a surprise political agreement between the UAE and Israel to normalise relations, a historic shift which will make the Gulf state only the third Arab country to establish full diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
The UAE’s APEX National Investment and Israel’s TeraGroup signed the “strategic commercial agreement” late Saturday in Abu Dhabi, WAM said in a statement.
“We are delighted with this cooperation with TeraGroup, which is considered the first business to inaugurate trade, economy and effective partnerships between the Emirati and Israeli business sectors,” APEX chairman Khalifa Yousef Khouri said.
APEX is an investment company with a particular focus on the healthcare sector.
The deal would be “serving humanity by strengthening research and studies on the novel coronavirus,” Khouri added.
The two companies hope to develop a rapid test for coronavirus.
“We are thrilled with our agreement with APEX National Investment, and hope that we will achieve the objectives outlined in this agreement, which in turn will benefit everyone economically,” TeraGroup chairman Oren Sadiv said, according to WAM.
Last Thursday the UAE and Israel agreed the US-brokered deal to establish full diplomatic ties.
Under that agreement, Israel pledged to suspend its planned annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, a concession welcomed by European and some pro-Western Arab governments as a boost for hopes of peace.
However, before the political deal, two Israeli defence companies last month signed an agreement with an Emirati company to collaborate on the development of a non-invasive coronavirus screening test.
State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the country’s largest aerospace and defence firm, as well as the government’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, signed a memorandum of understanding with Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 in July.
The supplies, a statement on the Ruler’s website noted, was to help Nigeria fight the pandemic.
On August 11, the United States Government also handed over 200 modern ventilators to the Nigerian government to aid the latter’s fight against the pandemic.
Meanwhile, 170 Nigerians returned from the United Arab Emirates to Nigeria on Saturday, taking the number of evacuees from the Arab nation to over 3,000 amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).