RIYADH: Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for hosting 2.7 million Indian nationals in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking at India’s 73rd Independence Day celebrations in Riyadh on Thursday, Sayeed thanked the Saudi leadership for increasing India’s quota of Hajj pilgrims to 200,000 this year.
He said the crown prince and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have met four times in the last two years, including the former’s state visit to India in February 2019.
“These high-profile visits have consolidated the domains of an existing partnership, which now spans diverse fields such as security and defense cooperation, energy security, food security, health care, infrastructure, entertainment, tourism and culture, besides trade, investment and economic cooperation,” Sayeed said.
He added that the two countries enjoy friendly relations, reflecting centuries-old economic and sociocultural ties underpinned by warmth and goodwill between their peoples.
He said Indian companies are keen to share their expertise in the execution of prestigious projects in the Kingdom such as NEOM city, the Red Sea Tourism Project and Al-Qiddiya Entertainment City, which are part of the crown prince’s Vision 2030 reform plan.
Sayeed said India has taken a major step in easing travel formalities for Saudis by introducing e-visas for the Kingdom since June 2019.
Such visas are issued within 48 hours and are valid for one year. “Saudi businessmen can also avail of the facility of five-year multiple visas,” he said.
Saudi Arabia, he added, plays a significant role in ensuring India’s energy security by meeting its burgeoning energy demand.
“The Kingdom is the second-largest supplier of crude oil to India, supplying … roughly 19 percent of India’s total requirement,” Sayeed said.
“Significantly, Indian companies have made investments to the tune of $1.5 billion in the Kingdom.”
Sayeed unfurled the national flag at the Indian Embassy. Cultural performances from the Indian diaspora celebrated the occasion.
“India’s multicultural, multilingual and multi-religious society offers a unique and incomparable model of peaceful coexistence,” he said.
“India continues to strengthen its democracy and the core principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.”
He said India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth exceeding 7 percent.
“India’s robust economic growth is a result of consistent economic reforms, tight fiscal policies, and measures undertaken by the government … toward ease of doing business and improving the investment climate,” Sayeed said.
“Significant thrust is being given to boost the manufacturing sector in India, enhance skills and put in place a better ecosystem for startups and disruptive technologies to … lead the country on a path of sustainable development.”
In Jeddah, Consul General Noor Rahman Sheikh unfurled the national flag which was followed by the singing of the national anthem.