India is Saudi Arabia's natural partner for progress
On the auspicious occasion of the 73rd Republic Day of India, I extend my warm greetings and best wishes to the members of the Indian community living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Republic Day means a lot to every Indian. On this day in 1950, the Republic of India was born when the Indian people adopted, enacted and gave to themselves the first constitution of independent India, declaring the country as a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic.
As we celebrate our 73rd Republic Day, we pay tribute to the efforts and sacrifices of Indians in the past 72 years to uphold the pride of the nation as well as the values of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity enshrined in our unique constitution.
India, known for its diversity, is the world’s largest democracy, with a vibrant and resilient economy. Fueled by the energy of its educated, young population and powered by its scientific and technological prowess, India has emerged as a global hub for innovation, startups and manufacturing. India’s expertise and capabilities in areas such as space, clean energy, information technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals is appreciated by the world.
This year, as independent India turns 75, we are also in the midst of the celebrations for Amrit Mahotsav, or 75 years of Indian independence. Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries with which India established diplomatic relations in 1947, so we are also celebrating 75 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
In celebration of this, the Consulate General of India in Jeddah has been organizing events covering diverse aspects of Indo-Saudi cooperation — including economic and commercial, culture, Hajj, healthcare, sports and entertainment — with the enthusiastic participation of the vibrant Indian community in the Kingdom.
India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations, reflecting centuries-old economic and sociocultural ties. In recent years, bilateral relations have scaled new heights, as evidenced by regular visits and exchanges at the highest levels and the establishment of the Indo-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council in 2019, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Indian side and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the Saudi side.
India’s economic and commercial engagement with the Kingdom remains as strong as ever. India remained Saudi Arabia’s second-largest trading partner during January-September 2021. There is great scope for further enhancement of bilateral trade and mutual investments as the economic policies of the government of India and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 are in sync to a significant level.
India is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in areas such as manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and food security, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, IT, education, training and skills development, which are important areas for both Saudi Vision 2030 and India. Moreover, there is a great scope for mutual cooperation in areas such as entertainment, clean and renewable energy, small- and medium-size enterprises, and handicrafts.
I would like to avail of this opportunity to convey our sincere thanks to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their efforts in strengthening the relationship between India and Saudi Arabia, as well as extending warm hospitality to the Indians living in the Kingdom. We are grateful to Saudi ministries of foreign affairs, labor, and interior, as well as all other Saudi agencies that have extended support to us in our efforts to ensure the welfare of Indians.
The Consulate General of India in Jeddah accords utmost priority to the welfare of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia, particularly in the Western Province. Despite the enormous challenges created by the coronavirus disease, we have made untiring efforts, under the guidance of Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, and with the support of Saudi authorities, to improve the delivery of consular and welfare services.
In 2021, despite all of the challenges, we delivered more than 65,000 passport and other consular services. The consulate also conducted 34 visits to various remote locations, including Najran, Jazan, Abha, Qunfudah, Bisha, Baha, Taif, Yanbu, Makkah, Madinah and Tabuk as part of our outreach to Indian nationals.
Our extensive use of IT and innovative solutions has visibly improved the community’s ease of access to the consulate and its services. Our Virtual Appointment System has enabled Indian nationals to receive help, virtually, from their homes without having to visit the consulate. Our mobile application, India In Jeddah, and an interactive “chatbot” in the app and on the consulate’s website have made it easier for any Indian in the Western Province of the Kingdom to access the information they need or contact the consulate.
I thank my fellow Indians living in Saudi Arabia, who are hard working and law abiding, for contributing to the growth and development of both India and Saudi Arabia, and the strengthening of the ties between the countries.
I also thank them for their enthusiastic participation in the various activities organized by the consulate in celebration of 75 years of India’s independence and 75 years of Indo-Saudi friendship.
Happy Republic Day of India — Jai Hind.
Mohammed Shahid Alam is India’s consul general in Jeddah.