Indian Embassy cautions against hiring middlemen for exit visas

Updated 10 September 2013

Indian Embassy cautions against hiring middlemen for exit visas

The Indian Embassy has asserted that it is directly accessible to citizens living in the Kingdom and that middlemen, agencies and authorized representatives are not needed.
Sibi George, minister and deputy chief of mission, told reporters on Sunday night that, “We do not have any middlemen in passport services, visa application systems or other essential services rendered by the mission. The embassy is the only source for issuing passports or visas.”
George said that there are 12 centers located throughout the Kingdom to assist people seeking such services.
He said that 136,576 new passports were issued during 2012 and that 90,984 new passports have been issued this year up until August. He said that 51,879 emergency certificates have been issued this year so far versus 4,538 last year.
The deputy chief of mission said that the embassy is providing free passport renewal services and that they have renewed 5,178 passports so far this year.
George said that three days are needed to issue passports, visas two days and attestation services for passports are a same-day service.
He said that the Indian mission would launch the online visa application system very soon and that Jeddah was included in the proposal.
He maintained that the Indian mission is helping the community in fully utilizing the grace period and stressed that there would be no illegal Indians in the Kingdom after the Nov. 3 deadline.
George said that 80 percent of citizens who have applied for emergency certificates have been cleared.
“Anybody who needs to legalize their status should fully utilize the grace period,” he said.
Answering a query that Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao has approached the Saudi Labor Ministry,
George said that the ambassador has expressed his gratitude towards Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for his decision to extend the amnesty deadline until Nov. 3.
George urged Indian citizens living in the Kingdom not to get misled by illegal agents and middlemen, as Saudi authorities have made it clear that there is no fee for obtaining exit visas and that services at the deportation center are free during the grace period.
The minister said that applicants who have obtained travel documents from the embassy are urged to approach deportation centers directly for final exits.
He said illegal agents are issuing applicants with numbers claiming that these numbers are legitimate exit numbers, yet many people who have obtained such exit numbers through illegal agents have since been rejected at airports. Fake agents will likely be faced with penal action.

Road song: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

Updated 2 min 22 sec ago

Road song: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

  • Singer-songwriter Tamtam has released a music video to coincide with the day her fellow countrywomen make history
  • In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

JEDDAH: With the long-awaited day when Saudi women can finally drive drawing near, a Saudi singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles has written a song to mark the historic occasion.

Called simply “Drive,” Tamtam’s take on the breakthrough reform covers a range of emotions: Happiness, pride and even surprise.

Millions around the world shared the news that Saudi women would be allowed to drive when it was announced last fall, and with all the preparations taking place, the singer wanted to take part in the best way she could. So she wrote the lyrics to a song that mirrored the exciting events ahead.

Tamtam’s release focuses on the themes of freedom, equality and empowerment that she has explored in her music since the start of her career in 2012.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

“If I had to use one word to describe the feeling, it would be hope. Women in Saudi are ready to have a bigger voice and become more independent.

“This is a huge step forward for all of us. The country is showing us that they know we are ready, and they are here to support us and help launch us forward,” said Tamtam. 

Her song’s lyrics include the words: “We know what we want, we know it’s our time, let go of past perceptions, tomorrow is mine, we got drive” — suggesting that it’s time to look forward and stop looking back at what once was.

The verse mirrors the narrative many Saudis are sharing with the world, empowered by the dramatic changes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accomplishing with Vision 2030 and beyond. 

Tamtam, inspired by the late Michael Jackson, started singing aged 15. She wrote her first single, “Little Girl,” while attending high school in California after her family moved to the US from Riyadh. Her singing and songwriting have been influenced by events around her, always related to current issues with a twist of optimism. 

Whether it’s her strong vocals or hauntingly beautiful voice, Tamtam’s music transcends expectations. This young Saudi is singing and making a name for herself in the City of Angels, and her positive energy is reflected in her music.

As Saudis embrace a host of reforms, Tamtam believes many Westerners are shocked by the news. Yet people forget that Saudi is a relatively young country and more good changes will come, she said. 

“With hope comes more aspirations, dreams, new achievements and positive energy.”

The “Drive” video is uplifting, with playful, artistic imagery, and soulful and empowering vocals. The singer and her friends wear white, representing peace and femininity, and drive a yellow Ford Mustang convertible (Tamtam’s dream car). 

“Whenever I’m in a car, especially if there is traffic or it’s a long drive, I always turn on music to put me in a better mood. Driving is so much more enjoyable with music,” said Tamtam. “I hope that this song will be blasting through car speakers everywhere.” 

So the question is: Will Tamtam get her Saudi license, too?

“Yes, I can’t wait,” is the answer, obviously.