The UAE’s relationship with Canada has been “destroyed” after the dispute over airline landing rights and “fiery” comments by Canadian officials, the Minister of Economy said yesterday.
Sultan al Mansouri said the UAE requested daily flights for both Emirates and Etihad airways - which currently each have three flights a week - but “exhausted all the terms of negotiations with the Canadians over six years.”
He also criticised Canadian officials’ handling of the issue in the public domain.
“There have been some statements made from the Canadian side, which were sometimes very fiery statements. This is not the way relationships between two countries are handled.”
The diplomatic spat between Canada and the Emirates had been simmering for months when, in October, the Canadian government did not approve the UAE’s request for daily service to Toronto.
And this month, the UAE did not renew the Canadian military’s lease on a base in Dubai, also known as Camp Mirage.
The UAE has since also announced that from January Canadians will be required to obtain a visa before entering the Emirates.
Some Canadian officials have expressed disappointment with their government’s handling of the situation.
Last week, the Canadian defence minister Peter MacKay - while wearing a “Fly Emirates” baseball cap - was reportedly overheard saying it would take 10 years to repair its relationship with the Emirates.
Mr Mansouri said yesterday he agreed with Mr MacKay. “This relationship has not only been set back for 10 years, but has been destroyed.”
He said the issue should have been addressed in a “diplomatic and wise way”.
“These kind of statements do not help anyone at the end of the day. And the UAE did not make any kind of statement, until now, because the issue was raised now. And we will continue to have open doors in terms of our relationship with Canada.”