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Staff at work at the Indian Consulate in Dubai. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: The Indian Consulate in Dubai has recorded a spike in births, deaths and weddings registered in 2020 as against those registered in 2019, figures revealed to Gulf News show.

The comparative figures were announced recently after an exclusive video tour giving a sneak peek of the mission and its officials serving the largest Indian community living abroad. The mission provides its services to more than 2.6 million Indians living in Dubai and Northern Emirates including Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain.

Neeraj Agrawal, consul for Press, Information and Culture at the mission. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Neeraj Agrawal, consul for Press, Information and Culture at the mission, who introduced the mission and its employees in the video tour, also shared the details of the main consular services provided to the community in 2020. He said the births of as many as 11,984 children were registered in 2020 as against around 10,586 in 2019.

The mission, which provides 24x7 service in death cases, registered 1,921 deaths in 2020 as against 1,410 in 2020. Last year, the mortal remains of 860 of the deceased were either cremated or buried locally, a huge increase from 244 local cremation or burial conducted in 2019.

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Death Registration and Compensation office at the Indian Consulate in Dubai. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

While 1,061 mortal remains were repatriated in 2020, as many as 1,166 were flown home in 2019.

The number of marriages solemnised at the mission also saw a big rise — from 269 in 2019 to 395 in 2020. Agrawal attributed the differences in the figures largely due to the impact of COVID-19 with people facing flight disruptions and pandemic-related restrictions.

He also attributed the same to a decrease in the number of passport related services recorded in 2020. “Every year, we issue around 200,000 passports. In 2020, we issued 181,380 passports which was a little less than 212,175 issued in 2019. It was because the passport services were also affected due to COVID-induced closures and restrictions. Despite long closure of the services, our team has worked hard to ensure smooth delivery of passports.”

Track passport application on new app

The consulate has a team of 28 people working for passport-related services, said Siddhartha Kumar Baraily, consul, Passport and Attestation. He said the consulate has introduced the service of tracking passport application via the PBSK app that was recently launched.

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Siddhartha Kumar Baraily, consul, Passport and Attestation at the Indian Consulate in Dubai. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

PBSK stands for ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra’, a help centre for distressed Indian expatriates in the UAE that runs a 24x7 toll free helpline, 800-INDIA or 80046342. Since November 2020, PBSK functions out of the consulate. The walk-in facility at PBSK offers free legal, psychological and financial counselling services 365 days a year.

“You can now track the passport applications also via the PBSK app. All queries can also be addressed through,” Baraily added.

While the number of passports issued went down in 2020, there was an increase in the number of emergency certificate (EC), a one-way travel document issued to Indians without a valid passport. “The ECs issued in 2019 was 2,506 whereas we issued 2,937 of them in 2020,” said Agrawal.

Several Indians without valid residency documents, who wanted to avail the fine waiver announced by the UAE government to leave the country during the pandemic, were issued ECs free of cost.

Reaching out to community

Consul General of India in Dubai Dr Aman Puri said the mission is always working towards reaching out and becoming more accessible to the members of the Indian community under its jurisdiction.

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Consul General of India in Dubai Dr Aman Puri. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

He urged the community members to use the PBSK app to connect with the mission and support the mission’s new initiative to upskill and retrain blue-collar workers to prepare them for jobs available in post-COVID economy.

Addressing issues related to labour disputes and needs of distressed members of the community including maids, stranded sailors, patients and prisoners also come under the mandate of the mission.

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Staff at work at the Indian Consulate in Dubai. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Apart from the above mentioned services, the mission also offers services related to attestation, education, trade and commerce. Visas for foreign nationals visiting India and OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cards for persons of Indian origin are also issued.

Agrawal added that it was important for the community to know the zeal with which the mission’s employees are working for their welfare and urged them to support its initiatives. Constructed in 1993, the mission’s building in the diplomatic enclave in Al Hamriya, Umm Hurair 1, saw a renovation in 2013.

Around 100 India-based and local officials work in the mission, the facilities in which include an auditorium with the capacity of 300 people where community events take place.