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Sun 14 Nov 2010 05:30 PM

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Opinion split over impact of UAE, Canada visa tightening

Gulf firms divided on visa ruling, opinion split as to impact on Canadian trade

Opinion split over impact of UAE, Canada visa tightening
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Opinion is mixed among the Canadian business community as to whether new Dubai visa restrictions due to be enforced from January 2011 will impact trade.

From January 2, 2011 all Canadian visitors to the UAE will have to apply for a visa, a move which some Canadian business owners said will put firms at a disadvantage to their competitors in Europe, who are able to travel freely.

One company manager told Arabian Business the decision had forced him to rethink a possible expansion into the UAE.

“We went on a fact finding trip last week to look at expansion into Abu Dhabi but we’ll put that on hold,” Donn Lovett, general manager of Oman Energy Services LLC, said. “We’re taking a wait and see approach until we find out what restrictions they actually impose come January.

“You always have options in business. I hope that the restrictions won’t be serious, but if they are we have to consider what direction to take our company in. We are ready for expansion.”

The company has operation in Oman, Kazakhstan, Brunei and Indonesia, and is planning to expand into either Abu Dhabi or Saudi Arabia, Lovett said.

Canadian companies coming to do business in Dubai will be most affected, said Hashim Abood, general manager of Arab Canadian Computer Co.

“Canada is a big partner in the Middle East, but now people will have to wait to apply for visas, while their counterparts in Europe will be able to travel without this,” he said. “It’s not going to just impact Canadian companies but the whole country of Canada.”

An estimated 27,000 Canadians currently reside in the UAE. The Gulf state is Canada’s largest trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

However, travel for these residents between the two countries will not be any different, says Lucy Ghattas, financial controller of Canadian Gulf Construction.

“People who stay in Dubai have to have a residency visa anyhow, so this visa change is not going to make that much of a difference,” she said. “It’s going to affect tourists more, but they can arrange that easily. It’s not a big deal.”

The change in visa regulations follows a diplomatic feud between the two countries sparked by Canada's refused to allow UAE carriers, Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines, to increase their thrice-weekly direct flights to Toronto.

The decision triggered a UAE government decision to shut a military base near Dubai used by Canada to support missions in Afghanistan.

Canada last week denied allegations that it has since barred government officials from flying on state-backed UAE airlines.


Mukhtar Sumar 9 years ago

With 14 flights a week between Toronto and India by two airlines, no Canadian Airlines fly to UAE and only 6 flights connecting UAE with Toronto. Can somebody explain why should Canada say no to UAE for an increase in flights. Do we have George Bush with a new name Harper! Come on Canada stop playing games!

George 9 years ago

To be frank with you... if i choose between Air Canada's service and Emirates, I would choose Air Canada...not because of the cheap service that emirates will offer but Air Canada Rocks...
Talking about how aviation works... Air Canada is a Privitized Organization since 1988. if governments are seeking trade in airline route, they should organise it with the carriers who will have to organise the flights equaly. since Air Canada is part of Star Alliance and uses the "Hub and Spoke method" thru europe, it doesnt need such routes.
That being said, if the private company "Air Canada" can't handle such supply, how do you expect the government will alow such trade. Moreover the UAE governement has taken it more personal as the governement lead by the leaders who have the control.
More over, Emirates have promised employment to Canadians which i doubt because the cost of employment will be much more expensive than the current.
BTW... Canada is the first and this situation will trigger more.

Mohammad Ali 9 years ago

In deed it is gonna be a great loss to Canada and Canadians if UAE won't reconsider their decision to grant visa on arrival. Canadian Govt. should think very seriously on this issue and solve this matter diplomatically in the interest of both countries. Also Canada should allow UAE airlines to allow them to increase their frequency as has been allowed by USA everyday from New York and Chicago to Etihad Airlines and daily flights from Los Angeles, Houston in addition to two daily flights from New York to Emirates. Since Air Canada don't fly to UAE so why not charge a legitimate fee on number of passengers travelling by these airlines as compensation for not flying by Air Canada there???? Canadian Govt. must think it very seriously!

humanclay57 9 years ago

The reality is that countries like Canada preaches free trade and rules of demand & supply but what they practice is blinded protectionism. It is not about the Star Alliance as all participating countries in that don't practice such a thing. If given the choice, I don't see anyone flying Air Canada apart from you George because the service, prices, cabin and even entertainment on Emirates Is far more superior.

Jake 9 years ago

so is Vodafone or agency independent import...neither is allowed in the UAE...So spare your whining

MUKHTAR SUMAR 9 years ago

To be very honest I am a Senator member on star Alliance, while Swiss and Lufthansa are my favorites I only fly Air Canada when I have absolutely no choice....... it is one one of the worst airlines I have ever travelled and that is because of the attitude of the ground and air crew which is consistently rude!

It is pretty obvious the Harper Government has started a personal war ....... I don't think other civilized countries will follow suit ....... most of them are sensible, reasonable people!

Faisal Khan 9 years ago

AIR CANADA has the best plane and worst service in the developed countries. even united airline has far better customer service. BETWEEN emirate and air canada, air crew in emirate are much more prettier and diverse.

as a formal air canada elite member and now GOLD with emirate, If emirate stop flying from CANADA, i would take the extra hassle to go to USA AND FLY from there.

i travel 2 to 3 times a month on EMIRATE, simply because of their customer services and hospitablity and schedules and destination. AIR CANADA DOES NOT GO to any countrywhere i travel in ASIA AND MIDDLE EAST. i hate going through europe as airport are in mass on those countries.

just my two cent. air canada however has the best maintance record.

Rima Z 9 years ago

Dear George,
If AIR CANADA is privatised and can survive on its own, then why is Harper bending over backwards to protect it ? hmmm?

angloarabia 9 years ago

Emirates should just buy Air Canada.

Ahmad Omar 8 years ago

Canada has done the right thing by not increasing the the flight frequency of the UAE carriers. Canadaian jobs are more important than being a gold memeber of Emirates or not, I am also a fold memeber of emirates. However, I am a Canadian and Canada comnes first. if that is the case then let Emerats and Ittihad stop flying to canada and use canadian arispace while flying the NE of the US. by that the uae carrieirs will be the great losers. by the way UAE Needs Canada more than Canada needs the UAE. by impementing the vis to candains , then lsee canadians will fly to UAE, then no need for the UAE carrieirs to increase their flight to Canada. It you cannot stand the heat then leave the the kitchen