My reaction, 2 days later, remains the same: Really UAE? $250 for a visa to visit? Really?

The more I think about this, the madder I get. And judging from the response I get from others when I talk about it, either on Twitter or here, this is an issue that inspires passion on both sides.
 Look, I grew up to stories about Air Canada's struggle to compete. Canada is a small country with a massive size. The North American aviation industry is a completely different animal than the booming Middle East. And so, yes, I agree with the government's decision not to allow Emirates and Etihad to land every day and in more cities. There, I said it. I support, to some extent, the governments efforts to protect Air Canada's future. I can't get into a big debate about the economics of protectionism, because I will lose. And I do believe the Canadian government has let this get WAY out of hand and that neither side is blameless.

I can't imagine why some sort of middle ground could not have been found, however, so am not placing the blame on the UAE. But this new visa charge is ridiculous. My dad visited last year and it has always been my dream for my brother and his wife to do the same. (I also am quite sure this in not in any way their dream, but I digress). So say hell freezes over and they decide to come here, complete with my lovely new chubby-cheeked gurgling niece Lily. In addition to paying several thousand dollars for flights, they would be on the hook for $750 in the way of visa charges. (Unless they fly Emirates or Etihad, the more expensive route, which would see their fees a more normal $75 - apparently) Seriously?

If I leave here some day and travel for six months, which is sort of a dream of mine, I will have to apply for and obtain a visa to visit the UAE every time I want to come back? Can I even do that from Addis or Nairobi or Bangkok? All those Canadians living and working in Kabul, who have no other destination to fly directly to on their time off, will now do what?

Why didn't the UAE just implement a visa fee that was on par with what Canada charges Emiratis? $75 bucks? Why didn't Canada offer to drop that charge? What the heck will come next? Why can't these two just talk it out instead of acting like cranky toddlers?

Who would have thought when I walked out of that airport almost three years ago with five suitcases things would come to this? The entire affair is an embarrassment. A total embarrassment.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Embarressment to whom? Our (Canadian) government used the military base for 9 years -- NINE YEARS for FREE!!! This is politics, and I simply cannot digest that our Canadian politicians do not know the concept of "rub my back and i'll rub yours". They KNEW that there would be a price to pay, and what price it was!! Adding flights that would ultimately pump money into the Canadian economy! The United States (LA Airport especially) are requesting that Emirates increase its flights, and yet our wise government rejects the airline? And whats worse, it takes them 3 days (during a WEEKEND!!!) to agree to giving Qatar 3 flights a week! What nonesense is this!

This is not about the economy, its not about protecting Canada's interests. Its about Harper and his anti-Arab stance. Peter Mackay and other senior figures in Harper's government wanted the increased flights, Harper - as usual - went at it alone and in doing so punished ALL Canadians!

We should not place the blame on the UAE. The Emiratis went out of their way to accommodate Canada and its interests, and did so in absolute good faith 9 years ago when there was nothing that Canada had to offer. Canada wanted to extend the lease on the base and wanted to do so for free, so the UAE kicked us out. Sounds fair to me!
rosh said…
The $250 to $1,000 visit fee, feels more like the proverbial finger, in your face sort of reaction. To a large extent, I agree with the Anon above. I don't believe this slug fest is all about airline landing rights. There has to be more to this. It's unlike the UAE to take such hard-assed stand.
Anonymous said…
Hello again (same anon as above)

Gulfnews summarized it in a very nice way:

http://gulfnews.com/opinions/editorials/canada-has-lost-its-way-under-harper-1.738561

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