By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said approximately 5,000 UAE nationals live in the United States at any given time
The overwhelming majority of several thousand UAE nationals residing in the United States are students or ill people being treated at American hospitals, according to the UAE’s US ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba.
In an interview with Arabian Business at the UAE’s embassy in Washington DC, Al Otaiba – who has been ambassador since 2008 – said that there are about 5,000 Emiratis living in the US at any given time.
“There are about 2,500 students. That’s been consistent. It dropped a bit after 9/11 – as did every other country – but I think we’ve been consistent between 2,500 and up to 3,000,” he said.
Additionally, Al Otaiba revealed that approximately 1,500 Emirati patients seeking treatment in American hospitals, accompanied by about 1,000 escorts, chaperones and family members.
“There’s about 5,000 [Emiratis] here in total at any given point,” he added. “99 percent of them are students or patients. The number of Emiratis who live here on their own outside that is virtually none.”
Al Otaiba said that the overall number of Emiratis in the US is generally unaffected by high-profile incidents, such as the 2016 arrest at gunpoint of a 41-year old Emirati seeking medical attention in Ohio.
Police and local officials later apologised for that incident, which took place after a hotel clerk reported him to police for suspicious behaviour.
That incident, and a number of others involving UAE nationals, prompted the UAE to open more consulates around the country to help guide them and provide them services.
“Now we have four consulates. When I first came we had zero,” Al Otaiba said. “We’re actually trying to make the case for more consulates, and for more staff at the existing ones.”
At the moment, the UAE has consulates in Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Houston.