The United Arab Emirates cabinet minister has set aside media reports that the UAE suspended the issuance of work visa to Pakistanis, PM’s aide Zulfikar Bukhari said. In a Tweet from his official handle on Thursday, Bukhari thanked UAE Minister for Human Resources Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli for his continued support for Pakistani expatriates working in the Gulf country.

The reports emerged on Wednesday claiming that the UAE has stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Syria. A source briefed on the matter said that the visas had temporarily stopped being issued to Afghans, Pakistanis and citizens of several other countries over security concerns, but did not provide details of those concerns.

“Workers including Pakistanis laid off during #Covid19 registered on Virtual Labour Market Database are given priority -10yr golden visa applications are also being encouraged Looking forward to continued collaboration with UAE leadership to address the issues of our diaspora,” the PM’s aide said in a follow-up tweet.

Meanwhile, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said in a tweet that Bukhari spoke to the UAE official via video link to “dispel the negative reports on ban on Pakistani workers”.

“To dispel the negative reports on ban on Pakistani workers by UAE, SAPM @sayedzbukhari got in touch with UAE Minister of Human Resource & Emiratisation to address the issues being faced by Pakistani workforce in the #UAE.”

The UAE is home to tens of thousands of Pakistani workers, who have been employed in different sectors and send foreign remittances considered key to the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

Giving break up, Senator Baig said that in 2016 Pakistan sent 326,000 workers to the UAE, 290,000 in 2016, 275,000 in 2017, 208,000 in 2018, 211,000 in 2019 and even during the Covid-19 outbreak until October 51,000 Pakistanis went to the Gulf country for employment.