There is confusion over reports that the government of the United Arab Emirates has slammed a visa ban on Sierra Leoneans with immediate effect. The report which emerged on Social Media on Monday gave no reasons for the ban which also affects 19 other countries in sub-Saharan Africa apart from the issues of people on tourist visas overstaying in Dubai.

A Senior Official of the Foreign Ministry in Freetown described the report as rumor making the rounds on social media.

The Director of the Middle East and Asia Desk, Abraham John said “if authorities in the UAE intend to ban the Sierra Leoneans from entering the UAE, they will do so through an official notice”.

Travel agents in Freetown told Politico they were not aware of any such ban and would continue to process visa applications for business people and those going on pleasure trips”.

This contradicts the report which went viral on social media indicating that all travel agencies in the affected countries had been informed that applications for the one month visa from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Uganda, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Liberia, Burundi, Republic of Guinea, Gambia, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Benin, Ivory Coast, Congo, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Comoros and the Dominican Republic would be rejected, canceled or sent back.

A Sierra Leonean resident in Dubai, Alhaji Amadu Bah told Politico that he believes that the ban was being considered because of recent criminal activities including killing and theft carried out by Africans.

He said many Africans travel to the country claiming to be there for business or visit but end up staying illegally.

If a visa ban is slammed, it would affect hundreds of Sierra Leoneans who make frequent business trips to Dubai.