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25 April 2024

UAE may have second Indian consulate soon

A file picture of Indian Ambassador to the UAE TP Seetharam speaking at a news conference organised by the Indian Media Forum in Dubai. (Supplied)

By V M Sathish

The Indian government is considering opening its second consulate in the UAE in one of the Northern Emirates after the UAE government reciprocated the permission granted to it by New Delhi to open a UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala, home to a large number of Indian expatriates in the UAE.

Speaking at a press conference organised by the Indian Media Forum UAE, the newly appointed Indian Ambassador to the UAE T P Seetharam said there is now an option to open a second Indian consulate in the UAE, depending on budget allocation by the central government in New Delhi.

“When the UAE government got permission to open its second consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, India also got permission to open a second consulate in the UAE because it is a reciprocal approach,” said Seetharam.

Seetharam recently replaced M K Lokesh as India’s ambassador to the UAE.

The UAE consulate can be opened only in Thiruvananthapuram because, according to guidelines of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, a consulate can be present only in a state capital. All speculations to the contrary are not true,” said the ambassador. He said current austerity measures of the government in New Delhi are restricting budget allocations to various foreign embassies and consulates.

Seetharam said the time of opening and location of the second Indian consulate in the UAE will depend on budgetary allocations.

Because there is a shortage of staff in the Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Indian consulate in Dubai, some work related to the issue of passports has been outsourced to a private company, he added.

Mohammed Sultan Al Owais, Ambassador of the UAE, said in Thiruvananthapuram that the second UAE consulate in India is expected to start functioning within two months. Besides boosting tourism and trade, the new consulate in the Kerala capital will also help ease documentation work, currently done from the UAE consulate in Mumbai, the commercial capital of India.

There are demands to open an Indian consulate in Salalah, 1000km away from Muscat, capital of Oman, where the Indian embassy is located.  The same is the case with Saudi Arabia, the largest country in the Gulf.

Indian Media Forum President Elvis Chummar, Vice President K M Abbas, Treasurer Faisal bin Ahmed and other media personalities spoke on the occasion of the new ambassador’s first meet-the-press programme in the UAE.

Seetharam  said other Gulf countries are also expect to open their consulates in  Thiruvananthapuram.

On other matters, he said the Indian government is also reviewing the guidelines for using the Indian Community Welfare Fund, giving more freedom to the respective embassies in using the funds raised from the Indian expatriate community.

“Currently the fund can be used only for some specific community welfare measures like giving free air tickets, food and shelter for distressed Indians abroad. All the ambassadors have submitted their suggestions to improve the use of the community fund and we expect more autonomy for embassies,” he added.