New fees have come into effect which mean that Canadians face having to pay as much as $1,000 in visa fees to travel to the United Arab Emirates.
It is the latest development in a diplomatic row over aircraft landing rights. Canada was one of 30 mostly Western countries that benefited from an UAE visa waiver but its citizens now find themselves excluded over the aircraft row.
It began when Dubai based carrier Emirates wanted to introduce is three times a week flight schedule to Toronto and add other Canadian destinations. Abu Dhabi based Ethihad Airways also wanted to boost its connections.
Canada though has rejected the plan. That triggered a UAE government decision to end access to a military base used by the Canadian military to support troops in Afghanistan. Now it has ended the waiver agreement.
The UAE embassy in Ottawa said on its website that Canadians would be charged $250 for a 30 day single entry visa while a six month multiple entry visa would cost $1000, with a maximum stay of 14 days during each visit.
Canadians though can save money if they use the USE airlines. The embassy site says Emirates and Etihad can issue visas to Canadians. Emirates said it would charge $72.50 for a 30-day visa along with a $272.50 deposit, refundable on leaving the UAE. It said it could not offer three and six-month visas. Etihad said it charges a similar amount as Emirates for a 30-day visa.
‘With 25,000 Canadians living in the UAE as well as 200 Canadian companies active in the UAE today, six flights per week does not service the economic needs of both countries or the potential for growth,’ the UAE ambassador said in a statement.
UAE’s efforts to gain more landing rights in Canada has been criticised by Air Canada which has accused Emirates of wanting to steal away connecting passengers that help make its routes profitable.
Canadians will need to apply for the visa around three weeks before travelling. The complete visa application needs to be sent to the UAE Embassy 15 working days before the departure date, according to the new requirements. The amount paid ‘is non-refundable in case of a visa refusal,’ the embassy said, adding that visa requirements may change in the future.
A spokeswoman for Canada’s foreign ministry, Melissa Lantsman, said it was not told in advance of the new charges, but that they would not make the government change its decision on landing rights for UAE airlines. ‘Canada is a sovereign nation, and we make our decisions based on what is in the best interests of Canadians,’ she told the Associated Press news agency.
In contrast, UAE nationals visiting Canada who are required to obtain a visa pay between $75 and $150. The move is described as an unprecedented step that will have a major impact on travel and business between Canada and the UAE.