JEDDAH: On the occasion of India’s 72nd Independence Day, I extend warm greetings to my fellow Indians living in the Western Region of the Kingdom.
We achieved our independence after much struggle and sacrifice by our countless freedom fighters. Their sacrifices motivate all Indians to love our country and be forever willing to sacrifice, even our lives, for its honor and integrity. This is also an occasion to glorify our great Indian culture and tradition which has impressed the whole world.
This year, in the context of India’s 72nd Independence Day and as a tribute to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, an exclusive exhibition of “khadi” products has also been organized at the consulate premises on Aug. 15 after the flag-raising ceremony.
As Hajj is in full swing now, on this occasion, I would also like to wish all pilgrims, including those from India, a pleasant, safe and comfortable Hajj.
India and Saudi Arabia enjoy excellent relations which reflect their centuries-old economic and socio-cultural ties. With the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in April 2016 and subsequent high-level visits, the level of bilateral engagement between the two countries reached new heights. As India was the guest-of-honor country at the 32nd Janadriyah Festival this year, that has also further strengthened our relations. The presence of over 3 million Indian expatriates in the Kingdom, of which about 1.2 million are in the Western Region, has also immensely contributed to economic and socio-cultural ties between the two countries. The increase in mutual business delegations is also a welcome trend.
The government and the people of India are grateful to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hajj Minister Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin for making excellent arrangements for Hajj 2018. This year, 175,025 Indian nationals will be performing Hajj, which is the highest number from India so far. The government of India remains committed to partnering closely with Saudi Arabia to work toward a very successful Hajj 2018.
We would also like to thank the Saudi Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Labor and Interior and the authorities of Jawazat, Tarheel and other concerned agencies who have always provided the best possible assistance to us for the welfare of the Indian community in the Kingdom.
The Indian Consulate in Jeddah has also strengthened its grievance redressal mechanism. The consulate is now able to issue new passports within three working days. We remain committed to extending our best possible services to the Indian community in the Western Region of Saudi Arabia and also working closely with the Kingdom for an enhanced bilateral relationship between India and Saudi Arabia.
Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh is India’s Consul General in Jeddah.