John Baird, the visiting Canadian foreign minister, today met Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“Just over a year ago we set out an agenda between our countries to strengthen and re-energise the Canada-UAE relationship,” a statement from the two ministers said.
“We will facilitate travel requirements to increase business, tourism and joint prosperity for our citizens by restoring the visa regime.
“We are pleased to announce that we have accomplished those goals, which will be formalised in the next month.”
In January 2011, the UAE dropped Canada from a list of 33 countries whose citizens can obtain a free visa on arrival.
The move followed a diplomatic disagreement between the two countries over airline landing rights in Canada and the closure of its military base in Dubai.
Mr Baird said today’s announcement came after two years of talks to rebuild relations between the nations.
“Over the last two years of working to restore these constructive and cordial relations, the UAE Foreign Minister said they will restore the old visa regime and is expected to do so by next month,” he said.
The ministers said Canada and the UAE could make significant contributions towards the region’s prosperity, security and development.
“Within the next six months, our governments commit to explore concrete goals in each of these areas,” the statement said.
“At the end of this period, senior officials will report back to the ministers of foreign affairs with recommendations on how our strategic alliance can be strengthened.”
The two ministers said they signed major economic agreements, such as the nuclear cooperation agreement last year, and others on innovation and sustainable technology.
“More than 150 Canadian companies are currently engaged in the UAE, the region’s hub for trade and commerce,” the statement said.
“Likewise, UAE companies such as Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) are working in Canada on the cutting edge of technology, pioneering new and sustainable innovations in energy.
On regional security, the ministers stressed that the foremost obligation of any government is the security of its people.
They said Canada’s public safety minister, Vic Toews, met Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, in February to share knowledge and experience in law enforcement and security.
Both ministers agreed Canada and the UAE would strengthen cooperation on police, corrections and border matters, including training opportunities.
“We have taken action together to support stability in the Middle East, and we share deep concerns about prevailing forces behind threats to stability in the region,” the statement said.
“We are committed to working together against nuclear proliferation, and we call on Iran to address concerns surrounding its nuclear programme by cooperating fully with the international community, in particular the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engaging meaningfully with the P5+1 process.
“The international community must act effectively and responsibly to address threats to regional stability, including the brutal actions of the Assad regime against the people of Syria.
“Canada and the UAE will look together at the principal threats to regional security and work closely in strengthening stability during the transitions in the region.
“We find ourselves at a historic crossroads in the region and globally: between an opportunity to promote prosperity, security and development, and the threats posed by extremists, conflict and poverty.
“It is essential for Canada and the UAE that we continue to build our strategic partnership for the future.
“Through this partnership, our citizens will realise a world of increased prosperity, security and opportunity.”