UAE relaxes visa restrictions for Canadians after Emirates Air dispute gets resolved

Skift Take

Common sense prevails, but also points to Emirates Airlines’ use as soft-power front for the geopolitical interests of UAE and its constituent emirates.

— Rafat Ali

The United Arab Emirates has reinstated a visa waiver for Canadian citizens it withdrew amid a dispute over [aviation] landing rights more than two years ago, a move suggesting the disagreement may be nearing a resolution.

Canada was one of more than 30 countries, mostly Western, that benefited from a visa waiver the UAE offered to their citizens. But Canadians were told in November 2010 they had to obtain a visa in advance at a cost of as much as $1,000.

Dubai carrier Emirates had been lobbying the Canadian government to boost its thrice-weekly direct flights to Toronto and more Canadian destinations, with support from the UAE government, but failed to gain greater access. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways had also sought to increase its flights.

The reinstatement of the waiver was announced in a joint statement carried by the official UAE news agency WAM following a meeting on Tuesday between Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan.

“Just over a year ago, we set out an agenda between our countries to … facilitate travel requirements to increase business, tourism and joint prosperity for our citizens, by restoring the visa regime,” the statement said.

There was no word in the statement about changes in landing rights, but Emirates said it welcomed the move because it added to the convenience of its passengers.

An Emirates statement added: “We currently operate three flights per week to Toronto and welcome the opportunity to add additional flights to Canada, but this remains a matter between the Canadian and UAE governments.”

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