Bangladesh embassy opens new consular building to cope with passport demand
ABU DHABI // A surge in demand by Bangladeshis to replace their handwritten passports has forced the embassy to rent another villa to deal with requests.
More than 600 people visit the mission every day to apply for or collect a new machine-readable document.
But officials can only process between 300 and 400 cases a day, prompting them to expand.
Residents have complained about the large queues and overwhelmed staff have asked UAE authorities to provide extra security.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the embassy, in Al Rowdha, to find alternative solutions. The new consular building is nearby.
Muhammad Imran, Bangladesh ambassador to the UAE, said: “The mission has hired another place to ease the pressure from the mission and further facilitate and ease the process of consular services.”
He officially opened the building on Monday alongside a delegation of visiting government officials from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
There are 700,000 Bangladeshis in the UAE but only 330,000 machine-readable passports have been issued, according to Mohammed Shahadat Husain, a counsellor at the embassy.
He said replacing handwritten passports was urgent ahead of new rules by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
“According to the ICAO, by mid-2015, all handwritten passports will be banned and will not be accepted at any airports across the world, so we want to replace them before that,” Mr Husain said.
The wellbeing of expatriates also prompted the new location. During the summer, many were queuing outside in scorching weather.
Mr Husain said the embassy planned to outsource a local company next month to collect payments, organise appointments for fingerprint scanning and submit online applications and documents for processing.
In Bangladesh, the renewal process began in 2007 but it was only expanded to the UAE in 2010.
Bangladeshis at the embassy on Sunday welcomed the news that renewals would be quicker.
Jaseemuddin Khan travelled from Ras Al Khaimah to submit his papers.
“I came at 8am and waited for hours to get the dates for fingerprinting. It’s very difficult to travel from RAK to Abu Dhabi every time,” he said.
Abul Kalam Azad came to the embassy from Al Sila in the Western Region, close to the border with Saudi Arabia.
“I also came at 8am and it’s been five hours but could not get dates for the fingerprints,” he said.
“If I am going to complete the process today I would stay here with friends because travelling back and then coming again is not possible. It takes six hours to come here from Sila.”
Abdul Ahad, who travelled from Baniyas, said: “It takes too much time. I am waiting for dates for fingerprinting. Hopefully today would get it then [I will] come on the appointment date. “
The Pakistan mission in the UAE finished its campaign to replace handwritten passports for the 1.2 million expatriates in the UAE last December. It began the process in June 2008.
Published: December 29, 2013 04:00 AM