By Irfan Mohammed
Jeddah: Ensure to have Passport number on vaccination certificates as most NRIs back home in India opting for Aadhaar number registration that could prove a hassle for entry into Saudi Arabia, advised Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed.
Speaking with Indian community leaders in virtual mode on Tuesday, the Indian envoy has said that AstraZeneca vaccine is one of the approved vaccines in Saudi Arabia which is known in India as COVISHIELD and the same was notified to Saudi health.
The envoy also said that the Saudi Health ministry was informed about many Indians being vaccinated with COVAXIN. He further added that the Indian Government is working for recognization of COVAXIN which is under consideration of WHO.
According to the Ambassador, the embassy is working with concerned authorities to address the prime concern of NRIs about one dose in Saudi Arabia and another one in India.
NRIs stranded in Bahrain
Ambassador revealed that about 600 Saudi bound NRIs are stranded in Bahrain as King Fahad Causeway that connects both gulf nations is not allowing non immune expatriates. They can enter by Air following purchasing of institutional quarantine, he added.
“Indian Embassies in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain working to solve the issue of stranded NRIs in Bahrain”, he said.
He noted that earlier also Indian Embassy took the issue of stranded Saudi bound NRIs in Nepal.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed cautioned Indians to cross check when they transiting through any third country to comply 14 days away from India norm as Bahrain and other countries suspended the entry of Inbound Indian flights.
Embassy helping individuals to send COVID-19 drugs to back home
Touching a crucial aspect of sending lifesaving drugs from Saudi Arabia by individual NRIs to their families and friends, the Ambassador said that Indian Embassy has been receiving several requests from NRIs seeking help to send medicine, especially Amphotercin injection for the treatment of black fungus.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed said that the embassy has guided and helped such requests with the coordination of Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) to expedite clearance as these drugs were available in the Kingdom but need clearance to send out of the country.
Ambassador said that Saudi Arabia has supplied 240 metric tons of medical oxygen to India, which was purchased by Adani, Reliance, L&T and Indian Oil Corporation.
The envoy categorically stated that oxygen was procured by various Indian firms from Saudi Arabia, it was a sale and purchase transaction between two parties where the embassy has offered help for expedition of transportation.
Ambassador hinted that this year Indian Haj pilgrims would be in dismal numbers, however, yet to receive official information from Saudi Arabian side.
Indian schools likely to reopen in Saudi
Drawing attention of Indian community schools, Dr. Ausaf Sayeed said that Indian embassy is waiting for official intimation of reopening of schools for next academic year as Saudi Arabia has announced that it will open schools.
He urged exercise caution as few community members indulged in negative campaign of Indian community schools.
Ambassador said that the Embassy has been finalizing a revised draft for higher board charter that laid down SOP for functioning of Indian schools in Saudi Arabia.
The top diplomat hailed the digital reach initiative of Indian Consulate in Jeddah that made it easier for Indian community living in different parts to reach Indian officials for assistance. He said that similar methods will be applied by the Embassy in Riyadh at a later stage.
Ambassador termed issuance of ‘No Objection Certificate’ in case of death through digital mode within a few minutes is a milestone in Indian mission’s achievement in Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed said that since the beginning of pandemic and travel restrictions 85 lakh of Indians repatriated from all over the world to back home India under Mission Vande Bharat scheme where 5.5 lakh Indians repatriated from Saudi Arabia.
The Ambassador also revealed that 7300 Indians were deported through 23 special flights from various deportation centers of Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed said that Indian Embassy is encouraging various Indian states to showcase their potential investment opportunities to Saudi investors.
KTR to address Saudi Businessmen
Telangana state will hold interactive sessions with Saudi businessmen for two-days on virtual mode on June 8 and 9th where industries minister K.T. Rama Rao will address, he said.
Ambassador said that a joint naval exercise will be carried out in Arabian sea waters in Jubail in the second week of August by Indian and Saudi Arabian naval forces.
Envoy said that Saudi Arabia formally agreed to accept yoga protocol and identified it as one of the sport activities in wellness efforts.
He further said that Indian Embassy is working to promote cricket in Saudi Arabia which is loved by most Indians.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed highlighted the high-level contacts between top leadership of both countries in recent periods where Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in March, besides some key ministers to their Saudi counterparts.