New Delhi [India], December 01 (ANI): The Government of India is actively working towards the return of its workers back to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain who had lost their jobs and had to be evacuated to India during the Covid pandemic earlier this year, sources told ANI.
Thousands of Indians had to leave the UAE as businesses closed and employees were placed on unpaid leave.
According to the Consulate General of India in Dubai in August, more than five lakh Indians had been registered for repatriation to India from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah since the beginning of the Vande Bharat Mission- a mega exercise to repatriate stranded Indians back to their country.
However, reflecting the close relationship between India and the UAE, the Government there took exceptional measures to take care of the community through a series of supportive initiatives. In this regard, they were assisted by the Embassy and Consulate, who worked in coordination with Indian community organisations. Similar steps were taken in Bahrain and other Gulf kingdoms. This was acknowledged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the August 15 address from Red Fort.
On its part, even at the peak of the Covid-19 crisis, India continued to provide essential goods to the UAE, including during the Ramzan period. It allowed special flights for that purpose. It also facilitated doctors and nurses to return to the UAE as a special gesture, as also to some Gulf countries.
The warm relationship between India and the UAE was recently on display when the Indian cricket board moved the prestigious Indian Premier League to the UAE as conditions were not conducive in India to hold the mega event.
Last week, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar was in the UAE to discuss the advancement of strategic cooperation between India and the UAE as coronavirus crisis seems to ebb away with the imminent roll-out of Covid vaccine. Earlier he visited Bahrain on a similar mission.
Jaishankar met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and exchanged views on important regional and international issues.
"Thank HH @MohamedBinZayed for receiving me on arrival at Abu Dhabi. Conveyed the greetings and good wishes of PM @narendramodi. UAE's care and consideration of its large Indian community is deeply appreciated," Jaishankar tweeted, adding that he "Discussed advancing our strategic cooperation in the post-COVID era. Exchanged views on important regional and international issues."
Sources said that the objectives of EAM's mission were to facilitate the early return of Indians who came back from the Gulf, retention of those already there, build on India's reputation of reliability to increase trade and take the strategic cooperation to a higher level. This was trade and Diaspora diplomacy at its best, sources added.
Jaishankar, during his visit, also made it a point to meet the Dubai Government. On Sunday, he called on Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and handed over a personal communication from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The EAM's tweets spelt out the nature of these discussions.
"Called on HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, VP and PM of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai. Handed over a personal communication from Prime Minister @narendramodi. Thanked him for taking care of the Indian community," he tweeted.
"Underlined that India had been a reliable partner in all respects during this difficult period. Discussed prospects for our economic cooperation in the post-COVID era," said the EAM in another tweet.
Sources conveyed the sentiment about India in the Gulf has strengthened as a result of the COVID crisis. India's willingness to go the extra mile to keep trade going is widely appreciated. The discipline of the Indian diaspora and the proactive support of Indian missions and community organisations was also widely noted. In contrast, the UAE has just imposed visa restrictions on Pakistan. EAM is expected to visit other Gulf kingdoms ins the coming weeks. (ANI)