Kenyan passport renewal made easy in UAE

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Abu Dhabi: About 40,000 Kenyan expatriates in the UAE are able to renew their passports within three days now, which used to take six weeks.

The Kenyan Consulate General in Dubai has started a passport office within the consulate, which caters to Kenyan expatriates across the UAE, a top Kenyan diplomat told Gulf News on Tuesday.

The passport office was opened at the consulate, instead of the Kenyan Embassy in Abu Dhabi, because majority of Kenyan expatriates are living in Dubai and Sharjah, Mohammad Gello, Kenyan ambassador to the UAE, said in an interview at the Kenyan Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

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Of around 40,000 Kenyans in the UAE, about 30,000 are living in Dubai and Sharjah, more than 5,000 in Abu Dhabi, and rest of them are in other emirates, he said.

Most of them are working in hospitality industry, especially in airlines and hotels. Many Kenyans have been living in the UAE even before the formation of the UAE [in 1971], Gello said.

About 19 passports have been issued from Dubai consulate since new passport office was inaugurated on April 1, he said. The number is expected to go up when more people come to know about the new service. About 40 people used to apply for passport renewal every week earlier.

The consulate was previously accepting the applications for passport renewal and sending them to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, by diplomatic post. The delay in that process used to inconvenience many expatriates, especially those who had to renew their passports on an emergency.

Many Kenyans have been renewing their passports well in advance from Kenya when they go on vacation to avoid the 16-week-delay in the UAE. Even many Kenyan businessmen in the UAE used to travel to Kenya only for this purpose, the envoy said.

Gello said providing consular services including passport renewal in the UAE was one of his objectives as the ambassador, which could be accomplished by the end of his tenure. He has been serving in the UAE for five years, since April 1, 2009, and expecting to leave the UAE in the near future.

This is a major accomplishment since the embassy was opened in Abu Dhabi in 1982 and the consulate in Dubai in 2010, he said.

Kenya was the first Sub-Saharan African nation to open an embassy in the UAE. The UAE opened its embassy in Nairobi in 2012, which is its fifth largest consular office in the world, Gello said.

Both the Kenyan Embassy and the consulate have been issuing tourist and business visa since the beginning. About 15,000 UAE residents, mostly Emiratis, Indians and Europeans visited Kenya in 2013. Dubai Consulate and the embassy issued 4,000 and 600 visas respectively but rest of them availed of visa-on-arrival facility to travel to Kenya, the envoy said.-gulfnews.com

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