Dubai: The newly appointed Consul General of Pakistan in Dubai has promised “courteous and efficient” consular services to the expatriate community in Dubai and the northern emirates.
Hasan Afzal, in his first interview after assuming charge of his office early this week, told Gulf News on Wednesday: “My first priority is to ensure courteous, more efficient and qualitative services to our community members visiting their consulate in Dubai.”
Afzal shared his plans to improve the consular services for the community. “First thing I want is to make everyone visiting the consulate comfortable and at ease while getting their jobs done,” he said.
Improving the premises
His short term and immediate plans are to increase the seating capacity for visitors, convert open spaces to shaded and air conditioned seating areas, and renovate the chancery building. “Until we materialise our plans to build a new chancery building for the consulate, I am going to make the existing place more comfortable and friendly for the visitors.”
More than 1.4 million Pakistani expats live in the UAE, mostly in Dubai and the northern emirates. The consulate premises are always crowded as an average of 600 to 800 Pakistanis visit the consulate on working days for various consular services, mainly for renewal of passports and the national identity cards. The existing building is too old and does not have the capacity to cope with the rush.
“I have observed during the first week since I joined that it is a good functioning consulate with a capable and good team. I am sure we can make it an even better place,” Afzal said.
Afzal, who had joined Pakistan’s Foreign Service in 2002, was serving as Director General Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad before coming to Dubai for his new assignment. He had also served at various Pakistani diplomatic missions, including Berlin, Pretoria and Hanoi. He has replaced previous Consul General Ahmad Amjad Ali, who has been appointed as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Iraq.
Promoting consulate’s app
The new Consul General also urged the community members to use the recently launched online services, including a dedicated smart app. “Community members should try their best to use the app, which offers various services without the need to come to the consulate,” he said, adding that he would work with his team to improve the response time and make it more efficient.
The Pakistan Consulate’s mobile application, called ‘PakinDubai’, provides access to all consular and welfare services ranging from passport and identity card renewal, attestation of documents and applications for visa. It also provides information and facilitation about transportation of the deceased and legal advice. Community members can also use the app book appointments for consular services, including renewal of passports. The app is available on Google Play store and Apple’s App Store.
New call centre
Afzal said the consulate last month also launched a new call centre with 14 lines to facilitate the community members. Six call operators are serving the call centre to respond to any queries. “The main aim of introducing the app and the new call centre is to help people provide services without the need to visit the consulate. This is all the more important to ensure COVID-19 safety guidelines. We want everyone to be safe,” he added.
Afzal said he would visit other emirates, including Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, to meet Pakistani community members. He added that he wanted to ensure the best of the services in the respective emirates after listening to their suggestions and issues.