U.S. consulate in Dubai closes for security reasons

DUBAI Wed Jan 21, 2009 1:16pm EST

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DUBAI (Reuters) - The U.S. consulate in the Gulf Arab business hub of Dubai closed to the public for security reasons on Wednesday, it said without giving details of any threats.

"Based on security information specific to the consulate general provided by Dubai authorities, the U.S. consulate general in Dubai will be closed to the public on January 21, 2009," the consulate said in a statement on its website.

"The United States embassy in Abu Dhabi remains open to the public."

A U.S. embassy official declined to give more details about the nature of the information.

Dubai's police chief said the closure was an "exaggerated reaction," indicating that it followed an indirect threat received by police by telephone, which was apparently without foundation.

"Apparently, the consulate officials were not convinced about the details we offered to them," Dhahi Khalfan was quoted as saying by the state news agency WAM.

The United States reminded citizens in June to remain vigilant to the threat of attacks after Britain raised its threat alert for the United Arab Emirates.

The United States last updated its warden message in July, issuing a worldwide caution to American citizens about the "continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against Americans and interests throughout the world."

It said "anti-American violence could include possible terrorist actions against aviation, ground transportation, and maritime interests specifically in the Middle east, including the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa."

It said on Wednesday it would issue a follow up warden message once the consulate reopens.

Several Gulf countries have faced attacks from Islamist militants angry over their close ties with the West, but there has been no major attack or political unrest in the UAE, a federation of seven emirates that includes the Gulf's top tourism destination, Dubai.

(Reporting by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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