SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The United Arab Emirates has halted issuing new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Reuters cited a source briefed on the matter as saying that the visas had temporarily stopped being issued to Afghans, Pakistanis and citizens of several other countries over security concerns.
A document issued by a state-owned business park cited an immigration circular that came into effect on November 18, the news agency said.
The document, sent to companies operating in the park, said applications for new employment and visit visas had been suspended for nationals of 13 countries that also included Somalia, Libya and Yemen until further notice.
The ban also applies to citizens of Algeria, Kenya, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey, according to the document.
Reuters said the circular took effect a week after the French Embassy in the UAE urged its citizens to maintain vigilance after a bomb attack in Saudi Arabia on diplomats claimed by Islamic State (ISIS).
The visa ban also comes two months after the Gulf state established formal ties with Israel, a move that broke with decades of Arab policy and angered some Muslim states and communities.
Still, the source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the ban was unrelated to the UAE’s relationship with Israel and was expected to last only for a brief period.