Saudi eases visa rules for Indians

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Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) will no longer be a requirement for Indian citizens to obtain a visa for travelling to Saudi Arabia, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

Owing to strong ties and strategic partnership with India, Saudi Arabia on Thursday announced the exemption of Indian nationals from submitting a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) to obtain a visa for travelling to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Embassy in New Delhi tweeted on its official handle and said that the PCC will no longer be a requirement for Indian citizens and the decision has been taken as a part of the efforts of the two countries to strengthen their relations further, ANI reported.

“In view of the strong relations and strategic partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of India, the Kingdom has decided to exempt Indian nationals from submitting a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC), the Saudi Embassy in New Delhi wrote on Twitter.

In a statement issued on Thursday via social media, the Saudi Embassy made the announcement and appreciated the contribution of over two million Indian citizens living in the country.

“The PCC will no longer require Indian citizens to obtain a visa for travelling to Saudi Arabia. This decision has been taken as a part of the efforts of the two countries to strengthen their relations further. The Embassy appreciates the contribution of over two million Indian citizens living peacefully in the Kingdom,” the statement read.

India-Saudi Arabia relations have strengthened considerably over the past few years including in political, security, energy, trade, investment, health, food security, cultural and defence fields.

The top leadership of both countries remained in close touch even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier in September, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Saudi Arabia during which he reviewed all aspects of India-Saudi Arabia bilateral relations and discussed regional and global issues.

During the EAM’s visit, several areas were identified for further enhancing bilateral cooperation such as food security, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, the defence industry and entertainment.

India hails Saudi move

The Indian mission in Saudi Arabia has welcomed Riyadh’s decision to exempt Indian nationals from submitting a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) to obtain a visa for the country.

“Embassy of India welcomes this announcement and thanks Government of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its decision to exempt Indian Nationals from submission of Police Clearance Certificate (PCC). It will provide much needed relief to over 2 million strong Indian community in KSA,” the Indian mission in Saudi Arabia tweeted.

Earlier, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was expected to make a state visit to India on his way to Indonesia for attending the G20 Summit in Bali on November 15 and 16, but it was cancelled, according to reports.

For India, cooperation with Saudi Arabia is important for several reasons. It is an important trade partner of India with bilateral trade rising to USD 27.48 billion in the financial year 2017-18, up from USD 25.1 billion in the preceding year. Since then the bilateral trade has continued to increase in an uninterrupted fashion. Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner (after USA, China and UAE) and a major source of energy as India imports around 18 per cent of its crude oil requirement and 22 per cent of its LPG requirement from the Kingdom.

In FY 2021-22, bilateral trade was valued at USD 42.8 billion. During the period, India’s imports from Saudi Arabia reached USD 34.01 billion and exports to Saudi Arabia were worth USD 8.76 billion registering an increase of 49.5 per cent over the previous year. Trade with Saudi Arabia accounted for 4.14 per cent of India’s total trade in FY 2021-22. Even the Covid-19 pandemic did not affect the trade much between the two countries.

Major commodities of export from India to Saudi Arabia include engineering goods, rice, petroleum products, chemicals, textiles, food products, ceramic tiles. Whereas, major commodities of import for India from Saudi Arabia are crude oil, LPG, fertilizers, chemicals, plastic and products thereof etc. Still there is a huge scope and potential for India to export in Saudi Arabia.

Apart from trade relations, the two countries have substantial investment interest in each other’s economy. Saudi Arabia is the 17th largest investor in India with investments amounting to USD 3.13 billion (March 2021). Major investments include PIF’s investments in Reliance Jio Platforms (USD1.5 billion to acquire a 2.32 per cent stake) and Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (USD1.3 billion to acquire a 2.04 per cent stake).

On the other hand, Indian investments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have spiked in the recent years and have crossed USD 2 Billion. These investments are dispersed in diverse sectors such as management and consultancy services, construction projects, telecommunications, information technology, financial services and software development, pharmaceuticals, etc.

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