More flights for repatriation of Indians from Saudi Arabia

Dubai, June 18 (IANS) Additional flights will operate between Saudi Arabia and India to help in the repatriation of illegal Indian expatriates who want to return to India from the Gulf nation, a top Indian diplomat has said.

"The embassy has taken up the issue with the Indian authorities, and accordingly Air India, the national flag carrier, has expressed its readiness to operate flights," the Saudi Gazette Tuesday quoted Faiz Ahmed Kidwai, India's consul general in Jeddah, as telling a gathering of the Indian community.

"If there are many people who are ready to go but there are no seats available, then we will arrange additional flights."

Expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia are rushing to take advantage of a grace period offered by the authorities to either rectify their residency status or return to their respective countries after the implementation of a new labour policy.

The Nitaqat or Saudiisation policy makes it mandatory for all Saudi companies to reserve 10 percent of jobs for Saudi nationals.

The grace period, currently under way, will expire July 3.

Urging all illegal Indian nationals to register their names without wasting any more time, Kidwai said: "Seize the golden opportunity either to correct the work and residency status or leave the kingdom (of Saudi Arabia) before the deadline. First register at the embassy or consulate to avoid any penal action."

There are around two million expatriate Indians in Saudi Arabia, many of them blue collar workers.

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