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Wed 10 Nov 2010 11:50 AM

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UPDATE: UAE, Canada visa change 'based on reciprocity' - ambassador

UAE ambassador in Ottawa says new requirements will make travel for citizens of both countries equal

UPDATE: UAE, Canada visa change 'based on reciprocity' - ambassador

The UAE’s decision to change visa rules for Canadian visitors is “based on a policy of reciprocity”, the UAE ambassador in Ottawa has said.

Mohamed Abdulla Al Ghafli said the new requirements, which come into place on January 2, 2011, will make travel for citizens of both countries equal.

His comments come amid media speculation that the rule change is related to a recent political row between the two countries over Canada’s refusal to grant UAE national carriers landing rights.

However, the official line coming out of officials is that the visa rule change is the implementation of a decision made last year.

“In 2009 the UAE made a decision to pursue visa reciprocity with many countries, including Canada, that did not offer UAE citizens visa-free access,” Jacques Labrie, Foreign Affairs Department spokesman, told Canada’s The Star newspaper.

The affects of the visa requirements change remain unknown. An estimated 27,000 Canadians are currently resident in the UAE, and the Gulf state is Canada’s largest trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa region.

In an interview last month, Canada’s opposition trade minister warned the row over landing rights would hit Canadian businesses operating in the Gulf, and risk a bilateral trade relationship worth $2bn a year.

 “Canadian businesses and farmers could end up paying the price for this government’s incompetent handling of this situation.” MP Martha Hall Findlay told Arabian Business.

“Rather than avoid the issue, and ignore the UAE and its concerns, we want the Canadian government to constructively try to find a solution,” she said.

“This is another example of the Harper government's lack of understanding of how international relations work - that establishing and maintaining good relationships is key; that one gets nowhere by wagging fingers at other governments or ignoring issues as they arise,” she said.

Both the Canadian Business Council in Abu Dhabi and Dubai declined to comment.

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Nicola 9 years ago

MP Martha Hall Findlay is definitely a wise person. For decades GCC countries have been pointed for their lack of freedom etc etc. And now they are behaving exactly in the opposite direction? If Western countries carriers can't compete with ME ones it's their problem and not their countrymen burden. Do as the Italian government did. Alitalia not competitive? Let's sit and talk how we can join hands, but here's your requested slots. Want to join globalized free economy? These are the rules.

NTO 9 years ago

If it is reciprocity then do it to all countries that do it. Start with UK and USA to make a real example.
This singular approach shows it what it is, a petty escalation between two governments.
This only hurts local businesses and individuals that have established businesses here.

Jim 9 years ago

The Canadian Government is being utterly stupid with their irrational protection of Air Canada. I travelled on that airline all summer and put simply - they are terrible and are rightly scared of Emirates and Etihad's quality on every level. Having said that, will it really matter to Canada? 27,000 citizens here thats not that many. $1 billion of trade in the region - so what? Canada has a massive economy and a population well above 30m. Politically this is a nothing issue in Canada I am sure. Economically it equally uninteresting in the big picture. All the same I hope that Emirates and Etihad get more access. I would use them and I would hope that it would make better and more competitive options available to the abused and exploited Canadian traveller.

Mohamed 9 years ago

I tried posting a comment on the previous article, but it seems it didnt get through!

UAE citezens have always had to apply for visas to Canada. Whats wrong with having Canadians do the same. Simply Canadians were offered special treatment and now it is Equal Treatment. Thats all what this is about.

I am amazed that there some nationalities demand that they always get special treatment in this region, when it is not the same for us in those countries!

Besides, I would like business and the economy to grow, but for all those who argue about "economic loss" for the UAE, I don't think this will have any serious impact on the UAE economy.

Ex-Expat 9 years ago

I know it doesn't feel good, but countries have different standings in the world.
Example: UAE people can enter a number of African countries, but not vice versa.
Get it?

Shabbir Khan 9 years ago

Spot on mate! This is what exactly I was thinking while reading the article. Why not start with UK/USA to set a better and more loud example. This has nothing to do with a tit for tat kind of policy for all, rather it is aimed at a particular country only. A commercial issue/dispute at its roots.

His Excellency Dr Paul 9 years ago

If it is reciprocity, then why just Canada? Presumably the UAE will be requiring visas for US and all EU citizens, including the Brits?

It won't happen obviously as the tourist industry depends on Europeans.

But think of the damage this kind of knee-jerk visa change over a petty unrelated issue will do to the image of the UAE as a business hub. Who'd want to choose it now as a mid-east base if a spat over airline landing slots is going to suddenly mean business visitors will need visas?

It is not Canada that is sitting on a huge glut of empty offices they're desperately trying to fill.

Hiroshi 9 years ago

"Policy of reciprocity"...This must be a diplomatic way of saying “You hit me…I will get you back”Reciprocity?! Why do they only apply it to Canada? Why not implement it to all the 33 countries that enjoy walking into the UAE but DO NOT offer reciprocity?
Anybody can see that this rule has come about due to the recent refusal of more flights into Canada…
This is exactly the nonsense that annoys people living here and deters people from coming here. Different rules for different nationalities!!
Would the UAE allow more flights from a foreign carrier into Dubai?! Highly Doubt it.

ash 9 years ago

well said Jim. I too hope that Emirates and Ethihad get more landing rights in Canada. Air Canada (sucks), and the Can Gov. is silly in backing this loser airline.

BuckeyeDubai 9 years ago

"Would the UAE allow more flights from a foreign carrier into Dubai?! Highly Doubt it." Don't doubt it Hiroshi. Dubai has an "open sky" policy that allows foreign carriers to operate as many flights as they want. The more people that enter or transit through Dubai the better is how the forward thinkers feel here.