Emmanuel Kamarianakis, Consul General of Canada in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: A new consul general will soon be measuring the curtains in the large corner office at the Canadian Consulate in Dubai and Northern Emirates overlooking Shaikh Zayed Road from Emirates Towers.

Come early August, Emmanuel Kamarianakis, Consul-General of Canada to Dubai and the Northern Emirates, will be reassigned to a new posting in Canada’s capital of Ottawa later this year.

One of the more popular Canadian diplomats to advance the Canadian bilateral mission in the UAE in recent years, Kamarianakis’ departure from his four-year term in Dubai is being met with a sense of loss at the consulate and within the Canadian expatriate community now numbering 40,000 strong.

Kamarianakis, 50, was a regular fixture at a string of community events ranging from annual Canada Day gatherings and Canada’s 150th sesquicentennial celebrations organised by the consulate in 2017 to visits by trade and business groups to the UAE.

The veteran diplomat has nothing but praise for his UAE and Dubai hosts as he looks back at a career starting in the early 1990s which saw Kamarianakis named to embassy outposts down through three decades such as Tehran, Athens, Mexico City and Rome.

When he was assigned to the Canadian mission in Tehran from 1995 to 1998, Kamarianakis said he made a number of quick jaunts across the Gulf to visit Dubai for getaways from the every day.

“That was the first time I visited Dubai — we used to come for little trips, to go out, do some shopping and to experience this great city,” he told Gulf News.

While he is eager to work in his home country after a long tour of duty, he said he will definitely miss the UAE.

“One of the things that made a strong impression on me is how much ‘Canada’ there is in the UAE. We estimate over 40,000 Canadian citizens live here, there is a very large community of Canadian companies based in the UAE, we have a dynamic and successful Canadian Business Council with over 500 members and we are fortunate to have many Emiratis who collaborate regularly with Canadians in business, cultural and government circles,” he said.

Canadian expats are fortunate, he said, to have many tastes of home in Dubai thanks to a large presence of Canadian food brands.

“I admit that we enjoy access to the many Canadian brands available here in Dubai. I don’t think there are many (if any!) cities outside of Canada that have Tim Hortons, Second Cup Coffee, Big Smoke Burger, Beavertails, Pita Pit, Lululemon, Felix & Norton Cookies, Aldo Shoes, Eggspectations, etc. There are also great Canadian food products in Dubai’s amazing restaurants and supermarkets,” he said.

One of the reasons Canadian expatriates enjoy such a high quality of life is due to the UAE’s open-minded, innovative approach to the future and international relations, he said.

“I’d add that a particular theme that has resonated with me has been the commitment of the UAE and of Dubai to the concept of innovation. In everything from government services to technology accelerators in fintech and health care to philanthropy. It is impressive to see this country invest in globally-significant ventures and to see it dream big such as the UAE’s planned mission to Mars,” he said.

“Canada is proud to be an innovation partner for the UAE and I was particularly happy to see the UAE Space Agency recently sign a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Space Agency during the visit of Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan [Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] to Canada in May 2018.”

Kamarianakis thanked Canadian Ambassador Masud Hussain and mission staff, noting: “I would like to thank my colleagues at the Canadian Consulate in Dubai for all that they do, every day, to help Canada and Canadians. I may be a bit biased, but I think they are the best consulate in Dubai.”