Carl Risch, assistant secretary of the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the US State department. Image Credit: US State department

Abu Dhabi

The United States welcomes all nationalities to its soil for studies and tourism regardless of their creed and colour and it never believes in discriminating against people based on their cultural and religious backgrounds, a top official said here on Monday.

Carl Risch, assistant secretary from the US State Department, said there shouldn’t be any kind of concerns about travelling to the USA for studies or tourism.

Risch was in Abu Dhabi yesterday as part of a regional tour of UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to meet with his counterparts to discuss a range of consular issues and promote educational opportunities for all in the United States.

At a media briefing at the US Embassy on Monday, Risch said: “Citizens of the UAE and the residents who are living here from across the world, it’s important to know that, the United States encourages study in the US. We want people to pursue educational opportunities in the US and we are ready to provide information on that.”

Currently, 2,700 Emirati students study in the US.

Replying to a question whether the US is still an attractive place for Muslims, particularly from the Middle East, he said: “The United States welcomes people from all over the world, including students from the Middle East, South East Asia and South America; it doesn’t distinguish between people around the world. They are welcome to study in the USA, if they fulfil our criteria required to get a student’s visa.”

“We are open to welcome international students to study in the US, and all are welcome regardless of religion, race, ethnicity and the language,” Risch asserted.

“We want to do everything we can to facilitate the travel of international students to the USA. It’s an important part of our economy and important part of our traditions of academic freedom, openness to new ideas and inviting people to pursue education in the USA,” he said.

Education USA advises people in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and offers presentations in local schools to provide advice on the educational opportunities.

On a question about fears among pupils from the Middle East to go to the USA to study, Risch said, “Educational situation in the USA and our traditions in welcoming international students has, in fact, not changed from the last year and the year before to now. United States always encourages international students to come and study there.

“Any of these concerns of not being welcome in the USA is simply unfounded,” he said.

Those travel restrictions out there are based on concerns around the identity management information sharing in those countries. It doesn’t have to do with the religion, ethnicity and the language, he further clarified.

The USA has been a welcoming place for all international students and will be in future, there will be no change, Risch said.