The UAE’s temporary suspension of visas for Pakistanis is due to Covid-19, Pakistan says

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Multiple TikTok and YouTube videos viewed thousands of times claim the United Arab Emirates stopped issuing visas for Pakistanis and other nationals of Muslim countries because of their continued refusal to recognise the state of Israel. The claim, however, is misleading; the UAE’s suspension of visitor visas from 12 countries, including Pakistan, in mid-November 2020 was because of their high rates of Covid-19, according to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister.

The claim was published on TikTok here on November 21, 2020.

The video’s superimposed Urdu-language text translates to English as: “Pakistan does not recognize Israel so Dubai stopped visas for Pakistan” and “as soon as Islamic laws end in Dubai, visas for Muslim countries are closed. Calamity will visit them quickly if God wills.”

A screenshot of the TikTok video

The claim was also made in another video released by Haqeeqat TV, a Pakistani media outlet. The video was published on the network’s YouTube channel here on November 19 and its Facebook page here on November 20.

The Facebook post’s Urdu-language caption translates to English as: “First punishment for not recognizing Israel. Dubai, UAE has put restrictions on Pakistanis. India and America escape, restrictions on Pakistan. Restriction on Turkey as well, the real game turned out to be something else. For more information watch the video and share, thanks”.

A screenshot of the video on YouTube (L) and Facebook (R)

The narrator in the Haqeeqat TV video claims that the ban is a joint effort by the UAE, Israel and India and is “payback” against Pakistan. The video also claims that “restrictions have been put on Pakistan together with 11 other countries and they can’t enter Dubai or UAE. And under no circumstance will they be issued visas”.

The misleading claim about the UAE’s recent visa restrictions being related to Pakistan’s refusal to recognise Israel comes just months after the UAE became the third Arab country to establish relations with Israel, as AFP reported here. The US-brokered deal was finalised on September 15, 2020. 

In a statement released on November 17, 2020, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated its position on Israel, saying “that unless a just settlement of the Palestine issue, satisfactory to the Palestinian people, was found, Pakistan could not recognise Israel.”

The video was also shared on Facebook here, here and here and on Twitter here, here and here.

The claim, however, is misleading.

According to Pakistan’s Ministry of Forgein Affairs, the UAE’s new visa restrictions are “believed to be related to the second wave of COVID-19.”

“We have learnt that the UAE has temporarily suspended the issuance of new visit visas until further announcement for 12 countries, including Pakistan,” Foregin Ministry Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said in statement published on Facebook here on November 18, 2020.

“The measure is believed to be related to the second wave of COVID-19. We are seeking official confirmation from the concerned UAE authorities in this regard.”

The UAE's temporary suspension of visas for a dozen countries, including Pakistan, due to Covid-19 was reported here and here by Pakistani newspapers Dawn and The News International respectively on November 18, 2020.

The UAE’s Ministry of Foregin Affairs and International Cooperation did not respond to a request for comment from AFP.