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Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Latest from Uncle Sam

In keeping with the spirit of this blog, I am responsible for providing, from time-to-time, some useful information of concern to folks interested in visiting and/or working in the United Arab Emirates.

Many months ago, I did my duty and registered my presence here with the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi. I did this with reluctance as I am not generally fond of getting on "lists" and leaving a trail of bread crumbs behind me, but in this case I thought it would be prudent so if I contracted a debilitating illness or had an accident, my family would contacted and I would not end up with a "John Doe" toe-tag somewhere.

The US Embassy in Abu Dhabi is a strange looking angular building surrounded by embassies of other countries on the same quiet street. I expected to see heavily armed US Marines wearing starched uniforms at attention surrounding the place but what I saw were Filipino contract security guards. They were friendly but very professional and the security in the background seemed very tight. Metal detectors, bulletproof glass and cameras were everywhere. All the doors were very heavy with that special glass installed and had prison cell type latches that made a lot of noise. It is literally a fortress and for good reason considering the events in the last few decades.

Make no mistake, I am sure every eventuality has been considered. I have no doubt there were USMC personnel somewhere on-site, its just they are not visible to the casual visitor anymore. No photos were allowed...anywhere! I had to leave my car keys and change at the front entrance.

Another reason I registered is that although the UAE is very stable and safe, it is common knowledge that their are some "tensions" in areas outside the borders here that historically have caused some volatile events on occasion. In that unlikely event I would expect to receive a call on my mobile phone advising me that a fleet of US Navy ships were "haze gray and underway" to get my scrawny ass out of harm's way. I was in the USN years ago and I know a priority is to protect American citizens living in foreign lands in case of a conflict. One of the things that the US does well is take care of it's own and allies.

I have never felt uncomfortable being an American here and do not obsess of such things but it is good to have that kind of insurance policy. Here is a youtube link to a dynamic situation the famous New York chef Anthony Bourdain experienced in Beirut when he was filming an episode of his show "No Reservations" for the Travel Channel. It depicts how things can get ugly real quick!   No Reservations Evacuation

I am om the Embassy's mailing list and have included the link to an updated email I received today from them. After living here for awhile, I would have to say that except for a few embellishments IMHO (I will let you guess which ones), the rest of the information is spot-on and a worthwhile read!    UAE Update


Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

I should have asked you to put me on the list while you were there! :)

Ace said...

You can do the entire process online at:

I just happened to be at the Embassy for a passport renewal.