Breakthrough in Canada-UAE relations: Not the most important development in international relations, I realise
It is, however, very good news for tens of thousands of citizens of both countries living in the opposite country (like me!) not to mention a boost for all the business people are trying to do.
You can read more here in The National's full story, but essentially a row over UAE airlines' landing rights two years ago sparked the situation to deteriorate, and the UAE slapped a bunch of visa restrictions on visiting Canadians including a steep $250 Canadian fee just to visit. But apparently that all changed earlier this month, when the UAE's foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah, paid a visit to Quebec's cosy Chateau Montebello and went dog-sledding with his counterpart in Canada, John Baird (who many people blame for the situation in the first place, but oh well). It's the image of these two frolicking on a sled being dragged through some dazzling white powder that is giving me cause to grin.
The ball was already rolling, after Baird paid a low-key visit to the UAE in November, while apparently the UAE has been doing some lobbying of its own of late, in the form of hiring a Canadian firm to get its message across to the government.
There is no word yet on the visa fee being dropped, however, but we can be hopeful.
UPDATE: Commenter Moe is in the know: he says look for the visa fee to be lifted this month or next.