US & Canada

Canadians face big United Arab Emirates visa fees

The city skyline of Dubai
Image caption Canada feared its own airlines would suffer if they faced more competition for flights to and from the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is to charge Canadians up to 1,000 Canadian dollars (US$1,000; £650) for visas, amid a row over airline landing rights.

But Canadians flying to the UAE with its Emirates and Etihad airlines will be able to get their visas for much less than other Canadian travellers.

Up till now Canadians have not needed a visa to visit the UAE.

The visa requirement was announced after Canada refused to grant extra landing rights to the UAE airlines.

The website of the UAE embassy in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, now says that from 2 January a six-month, multiple-entry visa will cost $1,000, a three-month visa will be charged at $500, while a 30-day visa will cost $250.

The site says Emirates and Etihad can also 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 charges a similar amount as Emirates for a 30-day visa.

Military base eviction

No one was available for comment at the UAE's foreign ministry or at its Canadian embassy, nor at Emirates or Etihad's offices in Canada or the UAE.

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.

The AFP news agency quoted the ministry as saying UAE nationals visiting Canada are required to obtain a visa, which costs between $75 and $150.

The Canadian government feared that Canada's own airlines would suffer if Emirates and Etihad were able to offer more than their current total of six flights a week to and from Canada.

Its refusal of greater rights led to Canada being told to leave a key military base in Dubai, which it uses as a staging post for Canada's military mission in southern Afghanistan.

The BBC's Lee Carter in Toronto says the new visa rules will most affect the 25,000 Canadians living in the UAE.

He says some members of Canada's government expressed serious concerns about the potential damage of the refusal on relations between Canada and the UAE. It is Canada's largest trading partner in the Middle East with trade worth $1.5bn a year.

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