U.A.E. visa fees go into effect

Canadians heading to the United Arab Emirates now face steep new visa fees.

Canadians heading to the United Arab Emirates now face steep new visa fees.

The fee structure went into effect Sunday and is the latest manoeuvre in the diplomatic scrap between Canada and the U.A.E.

The new rules will have a significant impact on some Canadian businesses.

Calgary business owner Marco Abdi says he's concerned about the new visa fees. ((CBC) )

For 30 years, Marco Abdi has called himself Canadian, building a life in Calgary, where he runs a restaurant, while maintaining deep ties with his former home, the United Arab Emirates.

"Opportunities in the U.A.E. are very open," he said.

That's why he started another venture, using his connections in the Middle East to help Canadians build businesses in the U.A.E.

It has been very successful, but now Abdi is concerned about the new visa fees.

"It's sad, and it's all politics, but the reality is that small business people suffer," he said.

Canadians will now have to pay $1,000 for a six-month multiple entry visa and the maximum stay is 14 days per visit. A three-month visa will go for $500. A 30-day visa will cost $250.

Canada was among more than 30 countries whose citizens could travel to the U.A.E. on a free one-month visa, but tensions have risen between the two countries.

Last October, the U.A.E. informed Canada that its military personnel had 30 days to leave the Camp Mirage base outside Dubai. The move came after Canada failed to meet U.A.E. demands to expand landing rights for its airlines using Canadian airports. Then, the U.A.E. announced the new visa restrictions.

People who do business in both countries now face not only an added expense, but more paperwork. Abdi says the government is not working in their best interest.

"My reputation is as a Canadian. I fly high and I am very proud to be Canadian, but now I'm thinking twice because they put me in a different category."