Embassies and Consulates in the UAE
List of foreign embassies and diplomatic representation in Abu Dhabi, UAE
List of foreign embassies, consulates, and diplomatic representatives in Dubai, UAE
See the Dubai consulates page for more information about visa applications.
Usually you'll find embassies in Abu Dhabi (as it's the capital of the United Arab Emirates) and consulates in Dubai (as it's not). The UK is an exception to this with embassies in both emirates, but the boss in Abu Dhabi is the British Ambassador and the boss in Dubai is the British Consul-General (CG). The Indian consulate in Dubai is sometimes referred to as the Indian embassy, but both the Indian consulate and the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs refer to it as a consulate (or consulate-general), not an embassy.
Expect queues and bureaucratic hassle typical of embassies anywhere in the world. Remember that the poor chap or chapess working behind the counter thinks they're very important, so you're at their mercy as you'll very quickly find out if you try and bully them into doing a job efficiently.
Best advice when dealing with an embassy or consulate from any country is to go very early, bring a book to read in the queue, be patient, never lose your cool, try and speak the language of that country or bring someone who does. Even just saying hello and thank you in that language can make a difference. Smile, even if they don't. And save your grumbles for your friends at the coffee shop. Mothers with small children sometimes get better treatment, so do young, single (or appearing to be single) women if served by a male attendant, especially in embassies and consulates from countries with a society that is more patriarchal and/or misogynistic. If you're a bloke, bring your kids or borrow one.
Some embassies are noticeably better than others at processing visas etc. It can depend on your nationality and circumstances too but adding specifics here is probably going a bit too far for this website. Visit the discussion forum to get more information or discuss further.
A growing number of embassies and consulates outsource their visa application process to a third party, at least for the initial part of the application process - VFS Global is one of the larger organisations in the UAE dealing with visa applications, including UK and Schengen visas. The embassy or consulate still reviews the application (which might involve an interview) and issues or declines the visa. The third party organisation will usually say how satisfied their customers are and how they make the visa process more efficient. Their customers will also usually say how satisfied they are if you ask them, including various hand gestures and expletives which weren't included in the the visa processing center's version of customer satisfaction. Anyway, the best way to find out what all the fun is about, is to go and apply for your very own visa. After your first experience of bad communication, no appointment slots available, wondering where your passport has gone, processing delays, etc, you might find yourself searching for embassies and consulates that do the whole visa processing thing themselves before planning where to go for your next overseas trip. Or look for the VIP section and pay whatever extra it takes to smooth out the process (yes it sucks, but that's the way the system seems to have been designed, after all these organisations have to make a profit somehow). Good luck.
Of course, embassies usually treat their own citizens better than other nationalities which is understandable since they are supposedly there for their citizens. Don't expect them to do everything for you though. Normally embassies are good at only two things as far as the general public is concerned: renewing passports, and evacuating their citizens out of a country in a general emergency. If you're in trouble personally, they don't normally get you out of jail, represent you in court, buy you a plane ticket, lend you money, etc. They might be able to give you a list of local lawyers and arrange for someone to visit you in jail.
Visas for other countries
This list is a bit out of date - especially for countries which have visa applications accepted by an outside agency.
List of nearest diplomatic missions, embassies or consulates for countries without a presence in the UAE
Expat community websites for Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the UAE (open in new window)
Websites down (checked Jul 2014)
Last update Monday 21-Nov-2016.