India worries for its workers as Nitaqat crackdown continues

Updated 29 March 2013

India worries for its workers as Nitaqat crackdown continues

The Indian government has expressed concerns over the fate of its workers in the Kingdom after the deadline for the implementation of the ‘Nitaqat’ (naturalization) system was up last Wednesday. The government has assured its support to workers in distress in the wake of the naturalization scheme aimed at increasing employment of Saudi nationals across various sectors. Indian Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi spoke to Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao via telephone yesterday and pledged support to Indian nationals affected by the new Saudi labor policy.
Ravi sought more information from the Indian envoy about the impact of the new labor policy on the huge Indian diaspora living in Saudi Arabia. Asked about the discussions the Indian minister had with the envoy, Sibi George, deputy chief at the Indian mission, said that the embassy has geared itself well to extend all possible support to the workers. All related information, including details of the services offered by the embassy, are posted on the Indian embassy website.
George said “there is no need for panic; the Indian embassy is in constant touch with both with the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labor on this issue.” With over two million workers in the Kingdom, the Indian community is the largest foreign work force. Workers from India across the six Gulf states constitute about six million out of the estimated 25 million abroad.
According the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, about 48 percent of the Indian workers in the Gulf are in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait alone. The new labor policy of the Kingdom reserving substantial percentage of jobs for Saudis is a major issue for India as it could lead to reduced employment in the Kingdom for Indians. “It's a serious issue that will affect not only India but also other countries. I spoke to the Indian ambassador and have asked him to keep me informed on developments,” said Minister Ravi while speaking to TV channels in the south Indian state of Kerala yesterday.
He noted there were generally “good conditions and relations” between Saudi employers and Indian workers. “The other advantage that our country has excellent relations with the Saudi government,” said Ravi, adding that Saudi Arabia continues to be the leading destination among low and semi-skilled workers from India, attracting 289,297 people in 2011alone.
Another official has said the number of workers visiting the embassy is growing steadily. A large number of workers have begun visiting and calling the embassy after a section of local media announced a general amnesty. Yet the embassy has clarified that “it has not received any communication in this regard from the Saudi government so far.”
“The embassy would notify the expatriate community if any such notification is received from the Saudi side in the near future,” said a notice posted on the embassy's website. The Indian embassy said that the travel document (Emergency Travel Certificate) issued during any amnesty is meant for a one-way journey to India only. “Those Indian nationals who possess valid passports need not apply for an Emergency Travel Certificate during amnesty,” read the notice, which was posted on the embassy website.


Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

Updated 19 August 2019

Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

  • One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020
  • A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is to set up arts academies, including two in the next two years, offering a step toward academic qualification and enlarging the Kingdom’s footprint in heritage, arts and crafts, and music.

The initiative is part of the Ministry of Culture’s Quality of Life program. 

The minister, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan, said investment in “capacity building” was one of the most important elements in encouraging the cultural sector, which enjoyed unlimited support from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Kingdom was rich in diverse arts, talents and artistic production, Prince Badr said, and the academies would be a first step toward academic qualification in the arts within the Kingdom.

One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020, targeting 1,000 students and trainees in long- and short-term programs. 

A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021.

The music academy in particular will be “the core of music production and talent development in Saudi Arabia,” Saudi musician, composer and producer Mamdouh Saif told Arab News.

The music industry was a large and diverse field, Saif said, and education was crucial. 

“The academy is the right place to launch the music industry in Saudi Arabia, and it will have a significant impact on Saudi youth, and young people in surrounding countries,” he said.

He expects “a very high turnout” for the academy among young Saudis. 

“Due to my expertise in this area, I receive many questions from people who want to learn music, but through private lessons,” he said.

“But the availability of an academy for this purpose, that teaches music in a methodological way, will be the right start for those interested in music.”