Manfred E. Moritsch, counselor and consul at the Austrian Embassy in Riyadh, inaugurated the center.
“We are delighted with the increased tourist and business traffic to Austria from Saudi Arabia in recent years, and we have noticed that there is a good interest in the Eastern Province,” he told Arab News.
According to the diplomat, 60 percent of Austrian visa applicants in Saudi Arabia are from Riyadh, 25 percent from the Eastern Province and 15 percent from the Western Province.
“Previously all visa-seekers from the Eastern Province had to apply for a visa from our embassy in Riyadh … Now that there is an increased interest in our country from the business and tourist communities in the Eastern Province, we have started this center right here in Alkhobar,” he said.
Moritsch hailed Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s decision to open an interfaith dialogue center in Austrian city of Vienna. “It was not without a reason,” he pointed out. “The king’s initiative indicates the warm ties between our two countries, and it reaffirms our cultural standing in the world.”
VFS Global, the global outsourcing and technology services specialist, will manage the center. It will be responsible for accepting and processing applications for Austrian visas. The center is located on the fourth floor of the popular Gulf Center near Sofitel on the Alkhobar Corniche.
Prominent among those who attended the opening were Dubai-based VFS Global Head of Operations Sachin Verma, Al-Etimad Modern Business Solutions Co. Chief Operating Officer Mohan V. Mathew and Country Managers Harris Moosa and Turki Hassan Ibrahim.
“VFS Global is honored to be associated with the Austrian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, and it is our privilege that we have been given the opportunity to extend their services in Alkhobar,” said VFS Global’s Verma.
He reiterated that VFS Global will only be responsible for accepting and processing Austrian visa applications. “Each application will continue to be screened by the Austrian Embassy in Riyadh,” said Verma.
Since 2007, VFS Global, along with its local partner Al-Etimad Modern Business Solutions Co., has been successfully operating visa application services for eight diplomatic missions in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar.