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Wed 23 Nov 2011 11:07 AM

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Canada, UAE call it quits over airline spat

Diplomatic relations hit ‘rough patch’ but have moved on, says Ottawa’s John Baird

Canada, UAE call it quits over airline spat
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird
Canada, UAE call it quits over airline spat
Relations between the UAE and Canada have deteriorated in the last year

Canada and the UAE have put a row over landing rights for the Gulf state’s national airlines behind them, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Tuesday.

The two countries have held a series of talks in the wake of a “rough patch” sparked by Canada's refusal to offer more landing slots to Emirates and Etihad Airways.

"Last year, there were some profound disagreements between Canada and the United Arab Emirates," Baird told Canadian media in a conference call after meeting with his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

“I'm pleased to say I've had two or three bilateral but substantive discussions about Canada-UAE relations with my counterpart Sheikh Abdullah.”

The talks have been “good, positive, warm,” he said.

Relations between the oil-rich UAE and Ottawa deteriorated rapidly following the aviation row, after the Gulf state retaliated with the closure of Camp Mirage, a secret military base located outside Dubai and used to supply Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

In December, the UAE Embassy announced Canadian citizens would no longer receive free tourist visas and would instead pay up to $1,000 Canadian dollars to enter the country

The move led to a decline in the number of Canadian firms attending trade shows in the Gulf state, the head of the Canadian Business Council of Abu Dhabi Karl Tabbakh said in October.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s handling of the political row divided opposition MPs with foreign affairs spokesman Bob Rae accusing him of “bumbling” and of risking a $2bn bilateral trade relationship.

Baird on Tuesday suggested lessons had been learned over the diplomatic spat.

“I think relations are certainly on an upward trajectory,” he told media. “I think one of the things I've learned very quickly as minister of foreign affairs is personal relationship and communication is very important."

Tightening business ties between the UAE and Canada had hinted that the frosty standoff between the countries was softening.

Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management last month launched a $1bn real estate fund with state-controlled Investment Corporation of Dubai, to invest in distressed assets in the Gulf emirate.

“My perception is that, from speaking to our members, the Canadian business people are making the difference between the business issues and the diplomatic issues,” Tabbakh said.

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procan 8 years ago

As predicted here warming of relations is happening at a political level first .Much more work to do such as up to thousand dollar entry fee to Dubai for Canadians good place to start. Few places Globally are in as good economic shape as Canada and the UAE. There relations should reflective of that. Perhaps the Food products show up coming in Dubai in early 2013 would be a great place to start .Easy does it we are Canadian not Americans .

Mick 8 years ago

Great! Does that mean that the UAE will halt the punishment on Canadian Nationals living within the UAE? Visa hikes etc?

procan 8 years ago

Canadian media pronounces beginning of warming of relations with Dubai and Stephen Harper Government .Its a good start to say the least although no immediate change in policy as of yet is forth coming Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Baird will be returning from a long international tour ending in Israel. If there are changes to current policy it would likely be during the 2012 year as Parliament will shut down for the Christmas Break not returning till February 2012 God knows what the World scene will be like by then. But the good news is the process has begun.

Acer 8 years ago

Hardly anyone pays $1000 fee. This fee is only for those who are looking for a 6 months multiple entry visa AND will be flying in from an airline other than Etihad or Emirates. So basically, if you want to support the company that caused this mess in the first place (Air Canada / Lufthansa) then you will have to pay the price, otherwise, the visa is barely $100 , which is quite cheaper than what UAE Nationals have to get visas to Canada.

As a Canadian, I think Harper should now have learned not to mess with a strategic trading partner. Be pro zionist all you want, but don't do stupid things that the average Canadian citizen will pay for.

procan 8 years ago

Of course that would very favourable. The UAE of course makes those decisions it is there call after all your guest of the UAE.

procan 8 years ago

@Acer hey...was never sure how many people were effected by the fees just that they were on the books and I am happy hardy anyone pays. .As a Canadian you can think or do what you like .Love or hate Harper he is the man and can mess with everything he wants to. Strategic trading partner is what we aspire to be with the UAE at approx. 1.5 Billion a year in terms of trade its peanuts, understanding that is what motivates us to do more .I am Pro Business anyone faith is there own affair. See you at the Grey Cup

John Swansea 8 years ago

Mick, I am curious as to how exactly Canadian citizens residing in the UAE have been punished. I had heard of visit visa requirements etc, but I hadn't heard of anything related to residents. Can you educate me? And if you are referring to the visit visa situation, then perhaps you should chose your words more carefully.

New Canadian in Qatar 8 years ago

Well said, Acer.

ASIF 8 years ago

I am canadian and was planning to start business in Dubai but because of visa policy of UAE, i have changed my mind which i think is not in the benifit of UAE business policy.My suggestion is to remove visa from canadian and should be given entry at the time of arrival.