Unlike the French, the Brits do it with a smile

23 Jul, '08

Remember my less than ideal experience with the French Embassy recently? Well, we applied for a British visa, took an appointment via their website, arrived at the prescribed time in the Bahrain Financial Harbour, did the required security checks and took the lift to the 23rd floor. There we were greeted by security guards with those metal detection wands, waved them at us and off we entered a well lit and airy office with an electronic queuing system.

We sat in their waiting area and immediately noticed the complete absence of bullet proof glass and that everyone there was smartly dressed in professional looking uniforms.

Our number came up, Frances took the pre-filled documents to the assigned desk where the lady looked through 5 sets of 26-paged visa application forms, got Frances to fill a few extra required details, handed in our passports which were checked and passed along to another queue after we paid the visa fees of BD820. You have to budget for visas now as part of your holiday finances! Once that was done, we were called in turn to get the finger prints scanned and pictures taken, and off we went on our way (we had breakfast at a newly opened bagel shop on the 2nd floor, simply scrumptious! The choices they have are mouth-watering and mind-boggling too!)

We were called approximately 24 hours later via a text message informing us that the passports were ready for collection. We all got 5-year visas without any bother whatsoever!

And you know what? They didn’t require 6 months bank statements, no stamped and approved hotel booking confirmation, no issued return air tickets. All they wanted were approximate dates on which we intend to travel!

The whole experience was civil and professional.

There was no one shouting and no Napoleon-wannabe patrolling the decks shouting and denigrating everyone in sight, and no frustrated and frazzled women who have seen better days and climes residing behind bullet-proof glass pretending to be Gallic protectors of the French and larger European Nation from the hordes of Bahraini terrorists and who think that without them personally – together with their diminutive mini-Napoleon-wannabe – that the whole of Europe would crumble.

The Brits can certainly teach the French some professionalism as well as give them lessons on how to treat people in a civil manner. However, I won’t hold my breath for the French Embassy or its masters in Paris to seek those direly needed lessons in better customer-care, though.

Off to the UK, sometime soon and with pleasure!

Filed in: Travel
Tagged with:

Comments (26)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Salman says:

    How much did you pay for your visa Mahmood? I mean, per person?

    Getting my student visa extended here costs a fortune! I believe 350GBP. It only cost 100GBP to get the damn thing 😯

    Are there limits to how many times you can visit the UK in a year? Or the amount of days you are limited to?

    Is it also, a tourist visa or did you get yourself a business visa?

  2. mahmood says:

    I got a tourist visa I think as to the number of days you can visit a year, I have no idea, but more than enough for a quick meeting or a nice holiday! What’s the difference between the business and the tourist anyway?

    We paid BD184 per person.

  3. Sam says:

    looked through 5 sets of 26-paged visa application forms

    Oh they just LOVE their paperwork! I think it would have been cheaper to have filled out ‘INF 12’ forms for the kids, no?

  4. Abdullatif says:

    My experience with the UK embassy was superb. My passport expired in 01/08 and my UK visa was valid until 04/10. I called them on the phone, they said we will transfer the remaining period to your new passport free of charge! So I went in (no appointment), filled out the forms (the security guards were very quick to offer me a pen) and was out in fifteen minutes. Couple of days later I got my passport. The entrance procedure in Heathrow is also very respectable and they don’t make you feel like a 3rd grade human-being (unlike my “special registrant” procedures in the US).

    I haven’t experienced the French embassy, however I had a relatively trouble-free experience with Ze German Embassy. The only thing that “scarred” that experience was the Ambassador himself cursing in German when several people took a long time to get into the elevator and the way he pushed himself through them in order to get out on the ground floor.

  5. mahmood says:

    Same price and the Right of Abode is no longer available.

  6. Salman says:

    I believe the business visa is a long term one. A tourist visa for 5 years is quite long.

    I already have a residence here, but my student visa expires in October. Must I provide them with proof of address or must it be a reservation at a hotel?

  7. mahmood says:

    Check their website, it’s got all the information you require I should think.

  8. mahmood says:

    My Schengen visa is actually still current, but it’s in the old passport. It expires in August. I wonder if I should visit the German Embassy and ask them to transfer (and extend?) it?

  9. Mark says:

    not everyone has nice experiences like this its not smooth sailing for everyone.i know many people who had to work very hard to get a visa

  10. omtutu says:

    Glad you had a better experience at the british embassy Mahmood!

    On another note, I LOVEEEEE that bagel place! I think its called the Great American Bagel place. yumm.

  11. Salman says:

    I believe it can be transfered to your new passport.

  12. I dunno about Europe, but if you have a valid US visa and an expired passport, you can use it along with your new passport.
    I just went to the states with no issues.
    Speaking of visas, my US visa application was so smooth, very short interview and our visa was ready the next day.

  13. mahmood says:

    Mohammed, the guys at the US visa office were giving Frances some shopping tips and what to do and where to go while I was busy!

    Needless to say we both got 10 years visas without a problem.

  14. Abu Arron says:

    I’m delighted to hear that my countrymen made the visa process an enjoyable (although expensive) experience.

    Chances are that I’ll still be in Riyadh while you’re in London, so no chance to meet up for a shawarma and pepsi. 🙁

  15. mahmood says:

    Thanks UmTutu.

    Guys, fancy having Friday breakfast/brunch at the Great American Bagel Place in the West Tower of the Bahrain Financial Harbour? Should be fun, an unofficial meetup!

  16. Aliandra says:

    the guys at the US visa office were giving Frances some shopping tips and what to do and where to go while I was busy

    That’s unusually nice of them. Everything else I’ve heard about US Visa processors says they’re quite obnoxious.

  17. Abu Arron says:

    Never had a problem with the US Embassies, far from it, always helpful and polite. But try landing at JFK. Now that was somewhere between obnoxious and just plain nasty.

  18. anon says:

    بصراحة كلمة الحق تنقال ان الامور سهالة فالسفارة البريطانية عكس الفرنسيين ليتهم يتعلمون منهم 🙂

  19. Amjad says:

    What if your visa application was rejected? Do they return you the money?

    Or they don’t take the money from you until they issue the visa?

    Because for the US, the fees are non-refundable and they’re paid when you submit the applications and if they were rejected, hard luck, your money is gone. But unlike the UK, they’re visa fee is $130 per person.

  20. Ali Baba says:

    do not get an education in the UK…it’s worthless!!

  21. Salman says:

    Excuse me Ali Baba but UK universities are world renowned and arguably the best in the world. (LSE, Warwick, Oxford, Cambridge, King’s to name a few)

  22. SalmanAK says:

    Excuse me Ali Baba but UK universities are world renowned and arguably the best in the world. (LSE, Warwick, Oxford, Cambridge, King’s to name a few).

  23. SalmanAK says:

    Sorry for the double post :s

  24. Um Naief says:

    I had the same experience w/ them. They were much nicer than my own embassy!! I only wish the Americans could take lessons and be the same when dealing w/ them.

    Haven’t tried this bagel place, but have heard the best comments about them. Makes me sorta sick though because I had wanted to open a bagel shop and was told it would never go anywhere here… and was even told that Arabs wouldn’t like it because bagels are Jewish!!!! can you believe this?!! I laughed… but am now mad that I didn’t do what I wanted and move ahead w/ such a venture!

  25. Mo says:

    I was due to go to the UK for my ATC Courses and I rang them and asked how long would it take and their simple answer was 2 months!

    I am very delighted the way the Brits are working.

  26. Khalifa says:

    180bd for a Bahraini? OMG!! That’s so expensive…

    Then again, in the Japanese embassy in Qatar it’s

    10bd for a european
    30bd for an Indian
    and 70bd for a Qatari.

Back to Top