, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21 – President Mwai Kibaki has now ordered Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula to travel to Dubai and resolve the visa row between the two countries should the mission in Abu Dhabi not sort it out by Friday.
Mr Wetangula assured the country on Wednesday that he was in constant communication with United Arab Emirates officials and was working to have the new requirement for Kenyan visa applicants traveling there to possess degrees scrapped.
The Minister who spent hours in a meeting with the President earlier in the day said that in the last two days he had secured the issuance of pending work permits for Kenyans and renewal of those that had expired.
“I want to give an assurance that Kenyans who work in Dubai are under no threat of losing their jobs. Our mission in Abu Dhabi has been following the matter very successfully,” he said.
The new requirement is a retaliatory move by the United Arab Emirates after Kenyan authorities arrested and deported four of its citizens on suspicion of being terrorists. There were reports that some of the suspects arrested were from a royal family in the UAE.
“I don’t want to call this a crisis as it has been referred. It is an incident borne out of another incident which we have overcome by now and we want to move on into the future,” Mr Wetangula said.
It is estimated that over 36,000 Kenyans work in Dubai in the hospitality and construction industries. Thousands others frequent the free port city on business trips. Since the introduction of the new rules dozens of business people have been denied visas to travel there.
Many Kenyans pass through the country while heading to other parts of the world.
The Minister confirmed that in the last two weeks two ministers and dozens of Members of Parliament had also been denied visas.
The business people especially in the textile industry have complained that they are losing millions of shillings in the crisis.
“For the business people who travel regularly I can only give you an assurance that the matter is in the hands of government and our counterparts across the Red Sea are fully committed to a very sound relationship between us.”