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Tue 6 Mar 2012 06:08 PM

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UAE-Canada relations 'better' after airline spat

Senior officials says relationship 'going in right direction' after nuclear co-op deal

UAE-Canada relations 'better' after airline spat
UAE-Canada relations 'better' after airline spat

Relations between Canada and the UAE are back on track following a spat over airline landing rights two years ago, a senior Canadian government official has said.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said relations were "going in the right direction" after talks with his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan during which a nuclear co-operation deal between the two countries was agreed.

Baird said in comments published by the Toronto Sun: "Canada and the UAE have had some challenging times in the past, many people said the relationship was going in the wrong direction," adding relations were now "better than they've been and they're going in the right direction".

Relations between the oil-rich UAE and Canada deteriorated rapidly after Canada’s transport agency refused to give Gulf carriers Etihad and Emirates new landing rights.

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.

Al Nahyan, in Ottawa for a bilateral meeting with Baird, hinted the UAE was still interested in acquiring more landing rights in Canada.

"(The) UAE is a main hub for trade in our region when it comes to the Gulf, the subcontinent, central Asia, east Africa...So I think having more trade between the UAE and Canada, and using the UAE as a hub, is beneficial for both countries," the paper quoted him as saying.

Relations began to thaw after Canada struck a deal last year to set up a new staging base in nearby Kuwait, and Baird visited the UAE last November.

In November, the head of the Canadian Business Council of Abu Dhabi said tightening business ties between the UAE and Canada may smooth the path for the Gulf state to press its case for additional landing rights for its airlines.

Deals such as the launch of a $1bn real estate fund by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management and state-controlled Investment Corporation of Dubai hint that the diplomatic spat between the two countries may be softening, said Karl Tabbakh.

“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,” he said.

Mohamed 7 years ago

Thats great news...will the UAE lift the visa ban for Candians?

Muhammad 7 years ago

I appreciate this fine movement from both the countries i,e canada and UAE to resolve the problems and ultimately Visa for canadian citizens should be wave as early as possible to increase tourarism and business

Ali 7 years ago

Get your facts right, there is no visa ban on Canadians: they just have to apply in advance, which is what citizens of countries like South Africa, India, Thailand etc. have to do...

George 7 years ago

Actually, it is no the ban itself rather the procedures. If relations are back to normal, then Canadians (like before) should be granted entry visas at the airport rather from embassies.

procan 7 years ago

Diplomatically and accurately said Muhammad. Although there has been no movement in policy it is encouraging to here positive dialogue between government officials. Personally I believe the normalization of relations will be achieved once the political drama in Iran is neutralized.

Doug 7 years ago

I mean, seriously....other than political spite....what reason could they possibly give for these problems and issues with the visa? I mean, what issues can they name without being embarrassing?

Mick 7 years ago

When will Saudi follow suit. They really have something going on. Lots of trouble getting a visa when all other nationalities walk right in. Saudi embassy are such angry people. Ask why it takes so long to get a visa and they, literally, scream at me "it is OUR country!! We make rules, not you!"

kingcambie 7 years ago

Air Canada is waiting on Boeing 787s. These longer range planes are more economical to operate and thus a more level playing field between Emirates/Etihad and AC. 787s have been delayed till 2014. Expect some movement on Emirates/Etihad flight slots in approx 18months, I'll predict. Long term UAE too important for Canada to not engage deeper diplomatically with. Syria and Libya situations have shown UAE and Canada can work together and have shared interests. Lack of UN Security Council seat, though, where UAE was seen to thwart Canada is going to rankle for years.

Mounir 7 years ago

I'll tell you why: because for the longest time, Canadian embassy staff in Riyadh would take 90 days (3 months) just to get back to an applicant (and usually it was a refusal!) so Saudis began treating Canadians the same.

As a former worker for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and as someone who interned with the Department of Foreign Affairs, I say this with full confidence: the staff that is chosen to operate in the Middle East is, by far, the worst of all diplomats. They are arrogant, they are ignorant, they are an embarrassment to Canada and Canadians around the world.

procan 7 years ago

Right on kingcambie, Air Canada had a demo model in Toronto for 4 days last week. I believe they indicated a order of 37- 787s Will not even need hubs with direct flights to most destination with in reach.The evolution of the industry continues looking forward some day to sub orbital flights in the near future