ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Canadian citizens will now need visas to enter the United Arab Emirates, a UAE official said on Tuesday, after recent tensions over landing rights and military operations in the oil-exporting country.
Canada was one of more than 30 countries, mostly Western, that benefited from a visa waiver the UAE offered to their citizens, but Canadians entering any of the seven emirates from January 2, must now obtain a visa in advance.
The decision is the latest development in a diplomatic standoff between the two countries over landing rights for UAE airlines flying to Canada, which triggered a UAE government decision to end access to a military base used by the Canadian military to support troops in Afghanistan.
The official source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the waiver is offered to countries with which the UAE "enjoys a special relationship built on growing economic cooperation and other forms of coordination."
Dubai carrier Emirates had been lobbying the Canadian government to boost its thrice-weekly direct flights to Toronto and more Canadian destinations, with support from the UAE government, but failed to gain greater access. Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways also wants to increase its flights.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed Tuesday that as of January 2, 2011 visas will be required to travel to UAE for business or tourism.
UAE citizens are already required to have visas to enter Canada.
"All sovereign states have the right to decide the entry requirements for visitors to their countries," the department said in an emailed statement.
Last month, the UAE blocked Canada's access to an airbase near Dubai that the country had been using for support and rest for its troops in Afghanistan.
Reporting by Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Charles Dick