UAE to hike visa fee for Canadians

Visas to cost up to $1,000 in apparent tit-for-tat measure in dispute over Canadian landing rights for two UAE airlines.

    Air Canada, the largest airline in the country, has criticised the UAE carriers' request for more flights [AFP]

    Canadian citizens travelling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) face a steep hike in visa prices from January in what appears to be the latest tit-for-tat measure in a dispute over Canadian landing rights for two UAE airlines.

    Following an apparent breakdown in negotiations to expand the number of flights between the two countries, the UAE has announced on Wednesday it will raise the price of the most expensive visa to $1,000, while citizens of dozens of other Western nations need no visa at all. 

    According to the website of the UAE embassy in Ottawa, the cheapest visa, which allows for a 30-day visit, will now cost $250.

    A three-month visa will cost $500, and a six-month, multiple-entry visa, will drain a full $1,000 from Canadian wallets.

    The wealthy Gulf nation first announced in November that it would require Canadian visitors to obtain a visa beginning on January 2, 2011.

    Canadians had previously been able to enter the UAE without a visa, like citizens of the US and more than 30 other countries and municipalities.

    The latest price hike comes after months of negotiations aimed at finding a way to expand flights between the two countries above the six per week currently flown by two UAE carriers, Dubai's Emirates airlines and Abu Dhabi's Etihad airlines.

    Mohamed Abdulla Al Ghafli, the UAE's ambassador to Canada, said in a press release that the UAE was "disappointed" by the breakdown in negotiations and that it "undoubtedly affects the bilateral relationship" between the two countries.

    Base access

    In October, after Canada first denied the UAE's request for expanded flights, the UAE shut off Canada's access to a military base that had been used by the Canadian military to supply its mission in Afghanistan.

    Air Canada, the largest airline in the country, has criticised the UAE carriers' request for more flights, saying they want to siphon off connecting passengers that makes Air Canada's routes profitable.

    Canadians can also reportedly buy the 30-day visa directly from Emirates airline for $75.50 and a $272.50 deposit, refundable when they leave the country.

    According to the release by the UAE ambassador, around 25,000 Canadians live in the UAE.

    The UAE is Canada's largest trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa, generating more than $1.5bn in value, of which 95 per cent is made up of Canadian exports.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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