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UAE: New fees for visiting Canadians

By Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN
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UAE: New fees for visiting Canadians
  • A dispute over airline landing rights is going to cost Canadians visiting the UAE
  • The United Arab Emirates says that starting January Canadians will pay a visa fee
  • Until now, Canadians have not had to obtain a visa or pay fees to visit the UAE

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- Beginning in January, Canadian citizens visiting the United Arab Emirates will have to pay as much as 1,000 Canadian dollars to obtain a visa, according to the website of the UAE Embassy in Ottawa.

This major change in policy is the most recent development in the ongoing altercation between both countries over airline landing rights.

Canadians, who until now have been allowed entry into the UAE without a visa and free of charge, will not only be required to pay for a visa starting next month, they'll also have to apply for one at least 15 days before departure. According to the embassy, Canadians will be charged 250 Canadian dollars for a 30 day visa, $500 Canadian for a three month visa, and $1,000 Canadian for a six-month multiple entry visa. The Canadian dollar is almost exactly equivalent in currency value to the U.S. dollar.

The embassy said in a statement Thursday that "fees for all visas issued by the diplomatic missions of the United Arab Emirates in various countries around the world ... are applicable to all countries without exception," according to the Emirates official news agency WAM. The fees and visa categories are part of a "universal visa system which is used by all UAE missions abroad," the statement said.

It is unfortunate that this process has been so protracted and frustrating.
--Mohammed Al-Ghafli, UAE ambassador to Canada.

The UAE decided last month that Canadians would have to obtain visas to enter the UAE as of January.

At the heart of the dispute are the number of flights per week that UAE airlines are able to make into Canada. The UAE maintains that the current level of six weekly flights for its carriers, Ettihad and Emirates, simply doesn't come close to meeting rising demand.

In an October statement from the UAE ambassador to Canada, Mohammed Al-Ghafli, posted on the embassy's website, he lamented the breakdown in discussions between both governments.

"The UAE is disappointed that despite intensive negotiations over the last few months the UAE and Canada have been unable to arrive at an agreement on expanding the number of flights between the two countries," Al-Ghafli said in the statement. "It is unfortunate that this process has been so protracted and frustrating. The UAE entered negotiations in good faith on the understanding that a solution would be reached and that constructive ideas would be brought to the table. The fact that this has not come about undoubtedly affects the bilateral relationship."

According to Al-Ghafli's statement, 25,000 Canadians live in the United Arab Emirates, 200 Canadian companies are active there now and the UAE is Canada's largest trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa. "Six flights per week." added Al-Ghafli, "does not service the economic needs of both countries or the potential for growth."

CNN could not reach the embassy of Canada in Abu Dhabi for comment.