Dubai: Indian outsourcing service provider for government and diplomatic missions, BLS International Service Ltd, will be open seven days a week starting from January 22, the Consulate General of India (CGI) announced on Friday.
BLS International Service manages visa, passport, consular, attestation and citizen services for client governments and diplomatic missions in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America and the Middle East.
Dr. Aman Puri, Consul General of India, said: “The move to open BLS centres seven days a week is directed towards meeting a growing demand from the Indian diaspora.”
Three centres located in Dubai and Sharjah will be open for submission of application for passport and visa services on all days starting from Sunday (January 22). Except on local government holidays, the centre will be open for consular services throughout the year.
D. Puri, who made the announcement on the sidelines of a Pongal celebration at the consulate in honour of the visit to the UAE by Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan, added: “On Sundays, applicants can submit their online filled application along with the required supporting documents on appointment basis from 9am to 3pm, except Tatkal and emergency cases, and senior citizens who can submit on walk-in basis.”
Muraleedharan hailed the move and said: “This means our Indian workers do not have to take a day leave just to get their consular services done.”
Prospering UAE-India partnership
Meanwhile, on the occasion of harvest festival in India, Dr. Puri said the UAE and India share close links and the 3.5 million Indian population in the country serve as a “living bridge” of friendship.
He added: “Our bilateral partnership has prospered across various sectors especially in trade and investment.”
The Indian diplomat continued: “Currently India’s exports to the UAE are well diversified with a large basket. India’s major export items to UAE are petroleum products, jewellery, food items, textile, engineering and machinery products, plastic, iron, steel and chemicals. India’s major import items from the UAE are petroleum and petroleum products, precious metals, diamond and gold, minerals, chemicals, and more.
Third largest trading partner
Dr Puri said that UAE is currently India’s third-largest trading partner with bilateral trade in 2021-22 valued at US$72.87 billion. UAE is also India’s second largest export destination with exports valued at approximately US$28.04 billion for the year 2021-22.
Dr Puri said under the UAE-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), both countries expect to boost bilateral trade to US$100 billion and service trade to US$15 billion in the next five years.
He said in the past eight months, the total bilateral trade stands at US$57.769 billion, in which India’s export is US$20.820 billion.
“This is 20 per cent more than the average trade of last year for the corresponding period. Hence bilateral trade for 2022-23 is expected to go way ahead of previous year in the context of improving trade scenario and CEPA,” he noted.
Muraleedharan told Gulf News: “We have achieved 30 per cent increase in bilateral trade under the CEPA agreement. We are sure to achieve our US$100 billion target in the five-year deadline.”
Visit to Indian High Group of Schools
Earlier in the day on Friday, Muraleedharan visited the Indian High Group of School — Dubai. Students welcomed the minister with a traditional reception.
Muraleedharan said: “It is the young minds that have changed the world’s perspective of India being a den of darkness to a lighthouse of hope.”
Punit MK Vasu, CEO of The Indian High Group of Schools, said, “Shri V. Muraleedharan is an inspiration for all students who want to develop leadership qualities at a young age. We were enthralled to hear his phenomenal views on how youth should contribute to politics and drive global change.”