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Over a coffee: Canadians get their UAE visas back

Canada's foreign affairs minister John Baird

The UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his Canadian equivalent, iron out their differences to reach new visa agreements

April 3, 2013 12:31 by

I’m sure you’ve heard of the famous saying ‘there’s nothing a good cup of coffee can’t fix’. It’s not that famous? Fair enough, but when the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan sat down with his counterpart, Canada’s John Baird for a cup it certainly became relevant.

The coffee must have been exceptionally well brewed, as Canadians no longer have to pay for entry into the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, the visa requirements – set in 2010 after Canada refused to give local airlines more landing rights – will be scrapped and the old visa regime will be restored, possibly in a matter of months.

Baird is currently on a tour of the Middle East (hence the meeting), and both parties have agreed to let bygones be bygones and work to ‘formalise the decision in the next few months’.

“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.

They also agreed to strengthen co-operation on police, corrections and border matters, including training opportunities. Last September, both nations also signed a nuclear cooperation agreement.

In the early days of 2011, Canadians were being charged $1,000 for a six-month multiple entrance visa. If they wanted a three-month or a one-month stay, they had to pay $500 and $250 respectively.

Although both ministers have agreed to “facilitate travel requirements to increase business, tourism and joint prosperity”, there are still a couple of questions left unanswered.

Will Canadians ever get a visa on arrival? When will Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways have their landing rights extended – possibly to Montreal or Calgary? According to Gulf News, Baird hasn’t discussed this matter with Emirati officials yet, but only time will tell and perhaps more coffee will be consumed. Or maybe a sandwich and bagel combo.

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