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.