India, Saudi Arabia to set up panel to address Indians' woes

Dubai:  India and Saudi Arabia will set up a joint committee to address the problems faced by Indian workers in that Gulf nation in the wake of its new labour policy.

The first meeting of the new panel will be held in Riyadh on May 1 to discuss various means to solve the problems Indian workers would face under the new Nitaqat or Saudization policy, local media reported on Monday.

The new policy makes it mandatory for all Saudi companies to reserve 10 per cent of jobs for Saudi nationals.

The new committee will be headed by Saudi Deputy Minister for Labour Ahamed Al-Humaidan, and Deputy Chief of the Indian Embassy in Riyadh, Sibi George.

India's Minister for Overseas Affairs Vayalar Ravi had a meeting with Saudi Minister for Labour Adel Fakewih in Jeddah on Sunday.

"The Indian side has conveyed its concerns to the Saudi officials, who have assured all possible support," Mr Ravi was quoted as saying at a press conference after the meeting.

"A joint working group, set up for expediting the labour agreement, will meet next month in New Delhi," he added.

Vayalar Ravi is leading a delegation on a goodwill mission comprising India's Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed and the advisor to the Indian Prime Minister, T.K.A. Nair, to Saudi Arabia.

Later, the delegation also met Saudi Minister for Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal and updated him about the outcome of the meeting.

The new Nitaqat policy has created panic among undocumented Indian workers who are flooding the Indian embassy in Riyadh and the consulate in Jeddah with requests for emergency certificates so that they can return home.

They are around 1.8 million expatriate Indians in Saudi Arabia, many of them working as blue collar workers.

Story First Published: April 29, 2013 19:56 IST

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