The United Arab Emirates is nixing costly visa requirements imposed on Canadian travelers, officials said Tuesday, ending a row between the two countries that started in 2010 over aviation rights.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, agreed to “facilitate travel requirements to increase business, tourism and joint prosperity for our citizens by restoring the visa regime,” said a statement.
“We will be working to formalize this in the next few months and the details will follow from (Zayed Al Nahyan)’s formal announcement that we return to the previous visa regime that pre-existed the challenging time in our relationship,” Baird told a teleconference from Abu Dhabi.
Baird is on a tour of the Middle East.
The UAE in January 2011 started charging Canadians $1,000 for a six-month multiple entrance visa, while three-month and one-month visas cost 500 dollars and 250 dollars respectively.
The steep hikes in obtaining a visa for the UAE came as the two countries had been at odds over landing rights in Canada for UAE-based carriers and the closure of a UAE military base to Canadian use.
Canada was forced a few months earlier to close a military base in Dubai that was part of a key supply route to Afghanistan after refusing to grant the UAE’s two national carriers more landing rights.
Baird was transport minister at the time, when more than 25,000 Canadians were living in the UAE and bilateral trade was valued at $1.5 billion annually, according to the UAE.
Since then, Iraq has become Canada’s largest trading partner in the Middle East, Baird noted.