New counter in Jeddah for newly-designed Indian passports

Dubai, June 6 (IANS) Saudi Arabia's passport department has opened a special counter in Rehab district of Jeddah to accept newly-designed Indian passports.

The move comes after thousands of expatriate Indians in that Gulf nation were stranded ahead of the summer vacations after Saudi passport authorities refused to accept the newly-designed Indian passports saying they were not informed about the changes.

After Indian expatriates submitted their old passports, the Saudi authorities refused to transfer data from the old passports to the new ones, saying they were unaware of the change.

While the old passport had the holder's photograph on the second page, the new one has it on the third page.

The matter was resolved only after India's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Hamid Ali Rao clarified the issue to Saudi Deputy Minister of Interior Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al-Salem in a meeting May 21.

The special counter in Jeddah has started accepting the new passports only from Tuesday, the Arab News reported Thursday.

The report quoted a passport department official as saying that transfer of data from the old passports to the new ones will not be done in the department's main office in Jeddah to avoid overcrowding.

Meanwhile, the Indian consulate in Jeddah has started issuing tokens for those Indian expatriates who want to get fingerprinted.

According to the Saudi Gazette, the tokens will be issued starting June 8 on production of iqama or local identity document or printouts from the passport department having iqama details in case of huroobs or runaway workers or visa showing clear immigration entry number.

The Saudi authorities have earmarked Tuesdays for fingerprinting Indians.

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