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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - By Hassan Cheruppa
JEDDAH — The centuries-old historic relations and strong bonds of friendship and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and India were unfurled with grandeur and gusto at a colorful ceremony marking India’s 71st Republic Day celebrations in Jeddah on Sunday evening.
Ambassador Hani Kashif, director of Protocol Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was the chief guest at the reception hosted by Indian Consul General Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh and wife Nazneen Rahman at the Park Hyatt Hotel.
Consuls general from several countries joined Ambassador Kashif and Sheikh in cutting the cake to mark the festive occasion.
They included consuls general of United States of America, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, Lebanon, Egypt, South Africa, Italy, Algeria, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Oman, Bahrain, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Kuwait, Yemen, Nepal, Brunei, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Greece, Gambia and Guinea.
Several distinguished dignitaries, including Foreign Ministry officials, diplomats, Indian Consulate staff and their spouses, Arab and Indian media figures, as well as community leaders, senior executives and business leaders attended the function. Indian Consuls — Y. Sabir, Sahil Sharma, Dr. Mohammed Aleem, and Hamna Mariyam Khan — were also among the attendees.
Speaking on the occasion, Consul General Sheikh highlighted the excellent bilateral relationship between India and Saudi Arabia that grew into strategic partnership. He thanked Saudi authorities for their great support to the Indian expatriates residing in the Kingdom.
In his address in English and Arabic, the consul general underscored the efforts being made by the Consulate General to look after the welfare of the Indian community, as well as the initiatives taken to enhance bilateral commercial ties and to further improve the facilities and services for the 200,000 Indian Haj pilgrims.
Quoting excerpts from the Republic Day message of India’s President Ram Nath Kovind, Sheikh noted that the underlying principles of India’s democracy are unity, equality and fraternity and that Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals are more relevant in the nation-building process.
Sheikh highlighted the remarkable progress that was witnessed in bilateral ties in recent years, especially in the wide ranging fields including energy, after the visits of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia.
“Both India and Saudi Arabia have the capabilities to significantly increase their trade exchanges and investments with a remarkable increase in the number of joint ventures. The consulate is facilitating the incoming and outgoing visits of many bilateral trade delegations,” he said.
The consul general congratulated the Indian community for their contributions in the development and progress of the host country. “The one-million strong Indian community in the western region of Saudi Arabia has been contributing immensely to further bolstering economic, commercial and cultural ties between the two countries,” he said.
Sheikh also announced that construction of the new premises of Indian Consulate General is expected to start this year, at a prime location near Madinah Road.
Speaking to Saudi Gazette, prominent Arab media figures shared their unique experience of having intimate interactions with Indians, who constitute one-third of the expatriate community in the Kingdom.
Nezar Al-Ali, director of the media center of Iqraa Channel, said that Indians are among the most law-abiding, hard-working and committed workforce in the Kingdom. “It is most gratifying to see that the bilateral relations between the two countries and peoples are reaching new heights with deepening and expanding to wide ranging areas. Indian products are getting more acceptance among Saudis,” he said.
Earlier, the function started with playing of the national anthem of Saudi Arabia and India while a fusion of Kerala classical dances was staged marking the end of the colorful ceremony. The enthusiastic performance of classical dance forms, staged by school students, enthralled the audience.
The concept was a fusion of three different forms of traditional dances of Kerala, resembling the tricolor national flag of India. It included Kerala Nadanam, Mohiniattam and Kathakali. The concept of the fusion was conceived by renowned artist Anil Narayana while famous dance teacher Sudha Raju choreographed it.
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