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Canada–United Arab Emirates relations

Canada–United Arab Emirates relations
United Arab Emirates

Canada—United Arab Emirates relations is used to describe the relations between the nations of Canada and the United Arab Emirates. Canada established relations with the United Arab Emirates in 1974. Each maintains an embassy in the other's capital.

Relations between the two countries had been strong for most of their 36-year relationship, though they have recently been hurt by a lengthy and ongoing landing rights dispute.

The current Canadian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates is Arif Lalani, appointed August 28, 2012.[1]


The Canada–United Arab Emirates aviation dispute is an ongoing international dispute between Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over aviation rights. The dispute revolves around Canada's refusal to allow extra landing rights to Emirati air carriers: Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways.


In 1999 Canada and the United Arab Emirates signed their first air agreement, under which Emirati airliners would be allowed to fly into Canada six times a week. In October 2007 Emirates began offering three flights a week between Toronto and Dubai; soon after this it began requesting that Canada allow increased flights to the country as part of an expansion plan to service increased demand between Canada and the UAE, citing the 27,000 Canadians residing in the UAE and important trade relationships between the two countries, Canada's largest trade partner in the Middle East.[2][3]

Negotiations between the two countries occurred for several years, but resulted in little to no progress. In June 2010, an agreement for the Canadian military to use a UAE military base to service its operations in Afghanistan expired. The UAE granted a three-month extension of the military base lease, but further talks stalled and the agreement was not renewed after again expiring in October.[4][5]

In November 2010 it was reported that although Air Canada objected to any increased service to Canadian destinations, Canada was prepared to offer more landing slots at Calgary and Vancouver. The UAE wasn't satisfied with anything less than more flights to Toronto, however.[6] It was also reported that Canada's offers included a capacity cut instead of a capacity increase, meaning that the offers were of little value to the UAE and UAE negotiators were accordingly offended.[7]

Closure of airspace to Canadian ministers' plane

On 11 October 2010, Canada's Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay, spoke at a news conference in Kandahar, Afghanistan, while visiting Canadian troops stating that negotiations with the UAE had failed and that the Canadian Forces would vacate Camp Mirage in compliance with the UAE's wishes.[8] This posed a potential problem for transportation to and from Afghanistan.

Hours later MacKay, Chief of the Defence Staff General Walter Natynczyk and Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn were on a plane back to Canada which was scheduled to land at Camp Mirage when it was denied landing rights and forced to reroute to Europe. The UAE responded to the incident saying that the Canadian government was distorting information about the incident saying that the plane had been notified ahead of time that landing rights had been suspended, and that the Canadian government was resorting to "fear tactics" to spin a negative light on the UAE in the Canadian media.[4] The Canadian government in turn said that it would not be "blackmailed" by the UAE using its military base as a bargaining chip.[9]

Effect on Canada's United Nations Security Council bid

According to a UAE official, the UAE lobbied against Canada's bid in the 2010 United Nations Security Council election due to the airline dispute. Canada failed to acquire a seat, while Germany and Portugal were elected.[10]

Visa requirements imposed on Canadians

In November 2010 the UAE announced that Canadians would require visas to enter the UAE beginning 2 January 2011.[11] Visa requirements for UAE citizens to enter Canada were already present. After a nuclear deal was signed between Canada and U.A.E. in September 2012, the current visa fees ($1,000 for a six-month, multiple-entry visa, and $250 for a 30-day visa) has been reduced by a third.[12]

Canada and the United Arab Emirates agreed to end the squabble when Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan met on 2 April 2013, during Baird's visit to the UAE. They say they have agreed to restore the visa regime that existed prior to the dispute. They say the two countries are also ready to sign a nuclear co-operation deal. Details on the two agreements will be formalized in the next month.[13]

2011 Canadian federal election

On 2 May 2011, Canadians went to the polls in the 41st federal election and once again elected Stephen Harper, this time with a majority government. This was with much dismay to the UAE, which considered Harper largely responsible for the souring of the relationship.[14] The Emirati airlines have since announced that they will take some time before reapproaching the deal with Canadian authorities.[15]

External links


  1. ^ "Diplomatic Appointment". Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Retrieved 2012-08-28. 
  2. ^ "Emirates pushing Canada on air travel – Politics – CBC News". 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ a b "UAE disappointed with Canadian actions". 12 October 2010. 
  5. ^ "BBC News – Canada loses access to UAE base amid airline dispute". 11 October 2010. 
  6. ^ U.A.E. wanted only Toronto air access: sources CBC News, 8 November 2010.
  7. ^ Bruce Cheadle UAE envoy explains tit-for-tat visa demand Canadian Press, 9 November 2010.
  8. ^ "U.A.E. closes airspace to MacKay, Natynczyk – Canada – CBC News". 11 October 2010. 
  9. ^ "Tories saw U.A.E. airline demands as 'blackmail' – Politics – CBC News". 
  10. ^ "U.A.E. lobbied against Canada's UN bid – Politics – CBC News". 
  11. ^ U.A.E. slaps visas on Canadians CBC News, 8 November 2010.
  12. ^ Canada (18 September 2012). "Ottawa ends UAE spat with nuclear deal". The Globe and Mail. 
  13. ^ "Canada, U.A.E. agree to do away with visitor visas | CTV News". 2 April 2013. 
  14. ^ Canoe inc. (29 March 2011). "Dubai newspaper weighs in on federal election". 
  15. ^ More Business (23 May 2011). "Emirates Airline to let time pass over Canada | The National". 

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