Historic Saudi-India bonds unfurled


Saudi Gazette

– The deep-rooted historic relations and strong bonds between Saudi Arabia and India were unfurled at a colorful ceremony marking India’s 69th Republic Day celebrations in Jeddah on Saturday. Ambassador Jamal Bakr Balkhoyor, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s branch in Makkah region, was the chief guest at the reception hosted by Indian Consulate General at the Park Hyatt Hotel. Several distinguished dignitaries, including Foreign Ministry officials, consuls general, diplomats, Indian consulate staff and their spouses as well as community leaders, senior executives and business leaders attended the function.

Several consuls general joined Balkhoyor and Indian Consul General Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh in cutting the cake to mark the festive occasion. Consuls general of United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, China, Iraq, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Nepal, Palestine, Yemen, Ghana and Thailand were among the diplomats who attended the reception. Dr. Nouf Marwaai, the recipient of Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, Deputy Consul General and Haj Consul Mohammed Shahid Alam, and other Indian consuls were also among the attendees. The function started with playing of the national anthem of Saudi Arabia and India. Moin Akhtar, consul of community welfare and PIC, welcomed the gathering.

Speaking on the occasion, Sheikh paid rich tribute to the great sacrifices of millions of people in realizing their big dream of India, as an independent sovereign country seven decades ago. “This is the day for us to celebrate the moment our great nation has become a republic in 1950.” He noted that the special relations and people to people contact between India and Saudi Arabia that date back to several centuries have now grown into strategic ties.

“There are 3.25 million Indians in the Kingdom and they are the largest expatriate community in this great nation. The Indian community has contributed immensely in strengthening the Kingdom’s economy and bolstering the bonds of social and cultural ties between the two countries. We are grateful to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman for their great support for India and its people.”

Sheikh also thanked ministries of foreign affairs, interior, and labor and social development, and departments like Passport Directorate (Jawazat) for their support during the amnesty period during which Indians were one of the major beneficiaries in regulating their status.

The consul general noted that the Kingdom is India’s fourth largest trade partner and it supplies one-fifth of India’s energy requirements. He also lauded the remarkable Haj facilities and services being extended by the Kingdom. “The government and people of India are grateful to the King and Crown Prince as well as the minister of Haj for making excellent arrangements for a hassle-free Haj. More than 175,000 Indians will be coming for Haj this year.”

Sheikh congratulated renowned Saudi yoga trainer Dr. Nouf Marwaai. “Padma Shri award is an incredible recognition for the dedication of Nouf, a Jeddawi, who has been propagating yoga in the Kingdom for the last many years. We are also very happy to note that yoga has been recognized as a sport event in the Kingdom,” he added.

Sheikh also invited the guests to watch the performance of a renowned cultural troupe who came from his home state of Manipur. The staging of Thang Ta, which involves sword and spears and reminds of the Kingdom’s traditional sword dance (Ardha), enthralled the dignitaries from both the countries. The troupe mesmerized the attendees with their spectacular performance using advanced acrobatic and sword skills. In the Manipuri language, thang means sword and ta means spear. Thang-ta is popular in Manipur both as a martial art form and as a technique used in theater and dance. It is a weapon-based Indian martial art created by the majority Meitei people of Manipur.