Decision on Sri Lankan consulate in three weeks

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Sri Lanka will soon open consulates in Thiruvananthapuram.

The consulate of the UAE, second in the country after Mumbai, will function within three months in the State capital, Ambassador of the UAE to India Mohamed Sultan Abdalla Al Owais said here on Saturday.

The announcement was made in the presence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Minister for Non-Resident Keralite Affairs (NoRKA) K.C. Joseph, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, vice-chairman of NoRKA-Roots M.A. Yusuff Ali, and captains of industry, commerce, and travel trade.

The consulate is expected to boost investment from West Asia, cement relations between the countries, and make attesting of certificates hassle-free for those seeking employment in the UAE.

The decision is expected to accelerate investment in healthcare, tourism, IT, education, and infrastructure. An increase in tourist arrivals from the UAE, especially for medical care, is expected.

Looking for land

The consulate will function initially from a rented building. The Ambassador said the UAE mission in India was looking for a suitable place for setting up the consulate here.

The consulate for Kerala was announced in June 2011 on a request made to visiting UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan by Union Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed.

The consulate will be a relief for over half-a-million Malayalis working in the UAE. Mr. Chandy said the consulate would be of immense help for those working in the UAE. Thiruvananthapuram was selected taking into consideration the need for better coordination with the State government and security issues.The UAE Consulate in Mumbai is at Colaba.

The decision to open the UAE consulate would force the other Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia to open a consulate here, Mr. Tharoor said.

A decision on a consulate of Sri Lanka in Kerala would be taken by the Union Cabinet in three weeks, he said.

The UAE consulate is the third to be set up in the State by a foreign country. The Consulate of Maldives has been functioning in Thiruvananthapuram since July 12, 2005. Russia was the next to set up its consulate. A Dubai Visa Processing Centre has been functioning in three cities in the State.

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