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Threat temporarily closes US consulate in Dubai

world Updated: Jan 21, 2009 12:38 IST

The US consulate in Dubai was closed on Wednesday to public business after a security alert from local authorities, officials said.

A US official said a warning of a possible threat was made by security forces in the United Arab Emirates, but the official did not give further details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media on the subject.

The spokesman for the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of Dubai, was not immediately available for comment. A Dubai police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said local authorities had warned US diplomats about a possible security threat. But the official declined to give any further details.

The consulate, located in a Dubai high-rise tower that includes businesses and other diplomatic offices, was closed for American citizen services and visa interviews, said an announcement issued by the embassy late on Tuesday.

The statement did not elaborate on the nature of the security information. It was issued just hours after US President Barack Obama took the oath of office.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are part of a confederation of seven city-states making up the United Arab Emirates, a close US ally. Dubai is a major financial center in the Middle East and home to large numbers of expatriates from around the world. There have been no major terrorist incidents in the Emirates, but officials in neighboring Saudi Arabia have waged large-scale crackdowns on suspected al-Qaida networks and other militant groups there, after attacks on foreigners in Saudi Arabia in recent years. In June, Britain raised its terror warning to the highest level for its citizens living in the Emirates, saying at the time that "attacks could be indiscriminate and could happen at any time."