New Delhi: Indians who had left the Gulf amidst the COVID-19 pandemic have started to return to the region signalling a return of normalcy. The Secretary in the Overseas Indian Affairs (OIA) of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Sanjay Bhattacharyya speaking at a FICCI event said that an estimated 50,000 Indians have already gone back.
Bhattacharyya said, “We are happy that the return of Indian workers and professionals to the Gulf region has now begun. With the return of PRs to their families and return to Gulf of professionals in healthcare, data management, oil and construction sectors and even sports professionals, the future of our cooperation in human resources looks bright.”
Under the Vande Bharat mission, the largest repatriation mission launched by India, the maximum number of Indians came back from the Gulf and the wider Arab region. 457,596 Indians came back from the United Arab Emirates, 163,851 from Saudi Arabia, 104,444 from Qatar, 85,498 from Oman, and 90,759 from Kuwait.
Indians are the largest expatriate community in the Arab world with nine million workers and professionals which form 30 per cent of all ex-pat workforce. Indian ex-pats remit around $48 billion to India from the Arab world.
Bhattacharyya also highlighted India’s reach out to the Arab world in the pandemic. He said, “India provided emergency medical supplies to several Arab countries, emerging as the first provider of humanitarian assistance to COVID-19.”
He added, “India was able to provide, during the pandemic, thousands of healthcare professionals to Saudi Arabia and hundreds to Kuwait, Bahrain and UAE to help them address the challenge of COVID-19. We also had cooperation in COVID-19 research and testing.” The Secretary assured vaccine availability from India to Arab world “once the vaccine is ready”.
For India, energy security forms a key component of its ties with the Arab world. India imports 53 per cent of its oil imports and 41 per cent of gas imports from the region and has stakes in oil blocks in Iraq, Syria, Libya, UAE, Yemen and South Sudan.