Sunday, April 18, 2010

UAE's new regulations require visiting Kenyans to have a degree certificate

Kenya's Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang'ula. Photo/FILE

Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua says Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang'ula (pictured) will be travelling to the UAE within the week to address the simmering diplomatic tiff. Photo/File 

By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU

Thousands of Kenyans going to or passing through Dubai (United Arab Emirates) will need a degree certificate to get a visa into the Arab country.

A degree certificate “or higher” is required for one to enter the UAE, otherwise, without the Visa, you will not enter and won’t leave, but will be detained at the airport.

The rules were effected last Monday, just four days after the UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah Al Nahyan met both President Kibaki and his Kenyan counterpart Moses Wetang’ula in Nairobi.

Kenya and UAE then signed a memorandum to open doors for the oil-rich Arab state to set up a mission in Kenya.

But even before the ink dried on the agreement, the UAE slapped the new regulation barring Kenyans without Bachelors degree from entering Dubai -- the busiest aviation hub in the Middle East.

This means that the 369 Kenyans in Iraq, the 36 in Afghanistan and the 36,000 others who live and work in Dubai, will not dare leave unless they have visa approval. That is besides the thousands of traders who make daily trips to the international trade hub in the middle East.

The exact reasons for the new move are unknown but the chairman of Parliament’s departmental committee on Foreign Relations and Defence, Mr Aden Keynan, said it was as a result deportation of UAE nationals touring the country.

“It is unfair for the Dubai government to punish all Kenyans over this misunderstanding,” Mr Keynan said. “Mr Wetang’ula and his team must be proactive in their dealings with such crucial trade partners so that such hitches do not occur.”

Speaking to the Nation on Sunday, Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said Mr Wetang’ula will be travelling to the UAE within the week to address the simmering diplomatic tiff.

Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Thuita Mwangi and Dr Mutua said the move had not been officially communicated.

A US firm operating in Iraq has warned its Kenyan employees who were due to return home for a two-week break that should they leave their station, “there’s no guarantee that the employee will have a Dubai visa approved for their return.”

The firm, Kellog Brown & Root Proprietary Data, employs hundreds of Kenyans as mechanics and electricians in Army bases in Iraq.

According to correspondence seen by the Nation between the company and the Kenyan Mission in Abu Dhabi, no Kenyan without a Dubai visa will be allowed to transit through the airport.

However, Dr Mutua insists, Abu Dhabi reserves the right to change its visa regulations “but the minister will find out what the real problem on this situation is.”

The Kenyan mission in Abu Dhabi is exploring ways to get those Kenyans without visas to transit via Dubai into other countries in the Middle East.

The mission plans to write letters asking the UAE authorities to grant permission for inter-terminal transfers. Even if they get past the hitch and board their connecting flights, if it is determined that they have no visas, the plane may not be allowed to leave Dubai.

The use of letters from the Kenyan mission is a huge gamble given that the mission insists “it is unknown at this time if this will work.”

The employers of many Kenyans in Iraq and Afghanistan are now looking at Kuwait as a transit point.

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