ABU DHABI // Latvian expatriates who were previously forced to travel to Egypt for their closest embassy, or fly home to take care of home-country business will now be able to use the first regional embassy which opens in Abu Dhabi this week.
“It was the greatest news when we heard about the opening of the embassy,” said Guna Miskarova, a Latvian food safety consultant and trainer in Dubai for the past three and a half years. “Before, if we had any family issues, if we needed any legal assistance, support or advice, it was very complicated because Egypt was the nearest place.”
Ms Miskarova, one of about 300 Latvians in the UAE, used to travel to Latvia to deal with such issues. “If I needed to change my passport, get some documents or diplomas, I always had to send them through couriers back to Latvia,” she said. “It was a very long, time-consuming process. But now, we feel like winners because it used to feel like we were a deserted country with no embassy in this region.”
Although Latvia has been a part of the European Union since 2005, no embassy had been set up in the Arabian Gulf.
“Somehow in the Middle East, we never felt like we were part of the EU because they missed out on a lot of support and systems for us,” she said. “But now, we feel like community members like other nationalities that have embassies here.”
Rudolfs Bremanis, head of the embassy, said the UAE was chosen as an embassy site because it is a global power, economically and politically. With an estimated 300 Latvians in the UAE, he said the country was chosen as it was one of the global powers, economically and politically. “We don’t have any embassies in the Gulf so this will be a regional embassy,” said Mr Bremanis.
He added: “For the first time in the history of relations between the UAE and Latvia, residents will be able to participate in parliament elections, which are the biggest elections we have. Usually, we open an office in our embassy but seeing as most Latvians are located in Dubai, we will rent out an office in Tecom on October 4 to make it more convenient for them.”
The office will be open for voting information on Wednesday from 4pm to 8pm and Thursday morning at 1214, Grosvenor Business Tower.