x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Expatriates hope India will open a consulate in the Northern Emirates

Indian expatriates in the Northern Emirates have welcomed the possible opening of a permanent Indian consular office.

DUBAI // Indian expatriates in the Northern Emirates have welcomed the possible opening of a permanent Indian consular office.

There has been no official announcement or plans drawn up, but the large expatriate community is hopeful after the UAE said it would open a consulate in the southern Indian state of Kerala next month, the UAE’s third in India.

The two countries have a reciprocal agreement, which means India has the right to open a new consulate in the UAE.

“Families that do not have transport have to travel to Dubai for simple jobs that could be done at a consulate in Ras Al Khaimah,” said Madhusudan Das, who works for a building company in the emirate.

“It would be welcomed by people here. Even for those with transport, we have to take a day off to go into Dubai to finish work at the consulate.”

However, India’s ambassador to the UAE, T P Seetharam, said any decision would have to be taken by his government.

“It is correct this is a reciprocal agreement, and so when a country is allowed to open a new consulate it implies a reciprocity,” he said.

“We have an idea about which places in the UAE require more services and we are aware there is a need in these places.

“We know the areas in which people would welcome services on a permanent basis.

“Since we do not have consulates to serve every part of the country, we send officers on a regular basis to provide services once or twice a month.”

Currently, Indian expatriates can visit their embassy in Abu Dhabi or consulate in Dubai for assistance. For their part, consular officers announce the dates of their visits to the various emirates to provide services, such as attesting documents, in the offices of various Indian associations.

But any decision on a new consulate would not be taken immediately, Mr Seetharam said, adding that it depended on when New Delhi wanted to exercise the right of reciprocity. He said a decision would be made after a discussion with the Indian expatriate community in the UAE.

The UAE’s new consulate in the capital of Kerala will make it convenient for South Indians to access consular services instead of having to travel to the UAE consulate in Mumbai or its embassy in New Delhi.

Elsewhere in the UAE, Indian expatriates are hopeful that an Indian consulate will open near them, as it would lighten the workload of the itinerant consular officers.

In Ras Al Khaimah, for instance, visiting consular officers handle about 150 to 180 attestation cases every fortnight.

“It will benefit the labour class because it is difficult for them to keep going to Dubai to get their work done,” said Abdul Poyakkara, a businessman in Umm Al Quwain.

“It will also be good for tourism because the local population who need information from the consulate will not need to travel to Dubai or Abu Dhabi. It is something we all look forward to.”

rtalwar@thenational.ae