DUBAI // The American consulate general will move from its offices in the World Trade Centre to a new building in Bur Dubai next month.
Officials say the new facility will allow the consulate to provide better visa and passport services to American nationals, Emiratis and other residents.
Overlooking the creek in Bur Dubai, the consulate was built at an estimated cost of US$126 million (Dh460m). It is expected to improve consular services and meet increasing visa demand from August 7.
American officials said the "overdue" move to the purpose-built complex from the 30-year-old current premises in the World Trade Centre symbolised the ties between the two countries.
"This is the 40th anniversary of US-UAE relations," Jen Rasamimanana, the acting consul general, told reporters on a press tour yesterday. "We are very proud of the fact that the United States was one of the first countries to recognise the United Arab Emirates."
Officials also cited security reasons for the move.
"It has a number of features that keep it as safe as possible for the folks working here and for the folks visiting here," said Ms Rasamimanana, who is also the US State Department's regional Arabic-language spokeswoman. "Those are the kind of things that weren't possible to do in the World Trade Centre, which is an inherently public building and a skyscraper.
Ms Rasamimanana said the new consulate was in line with modern security standards laid down for American diplomatic missions around the world.
The new consulate is on 24,281 square metres of land donated to the United States government by Sheikh Mohammed, the Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, according to the consulate's website.
Additionally, a new public education advising centre inside the facility will provide free counselling on appointment. It will include Emirati student figures dating back to "pre 9/11" numbers.
The Public Education Advising Centre will open its doors to students next week.
A counsellor will offer free individual or group counseling, orientation and information on American colleges. The mission received more than 50,000 visa applications last year from tourists, students and other visitors. Officials would not disclose how many visas had been issued.
"The interest in higher education [in the US] is high and rising in the Emirates," said Robert H Arbuckle, the consulate's counselor for press and cultural affairs.