By Ranjana Narayan
Saudi Arabia, the largest supplier of crude oil to India, is keen to participate in the Make in India initiative of the Narendra Modi government and has asked its business people to explore the opportunities in India under the scheme, the kingdom’s envoy has said.
“I think it is a very good idea the initiative of Make in India, and because with the thinking or policy that we do have and follow vis-a-vis our relations with India, we encourage our business people to come and invest in India. And the embassy is there to help in any way to provide any assistance to promote investments between the two, make it smooth and efficient,” Ambassador Saud bin Mohammed Al-Sati said in an interview here.
He said that Saudi Arabia is inviting its business people to explore the opportunities and “take part in the major projects announced by the Indian government,” and added that the Saudi private sector is participating in various sectors of the Indian economy.
“In principle we encourage business people and investors to come and invest in India. We do have some framework agreements on that and ongoing talks and efforts to make it easier and smoother, and vice versa, and to invite and encourage Indian investors to come and invest in Saudi Arabia. The presence of Indian companies in Saudi Arabia is positively observed. Hundreds of Indian companies are in Saudi Arabia in various sectors of the economy and trying to promote it and further increase it,” he added.
According to official data, Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trading partner. The two-way trade in 2013-14 was over $48.62 billion, and it has touched $29.90 billion during April-November 2014. The import of crude oil forms a major component of the bilateral trade.
There are over 2.8 million Indian expatriates working in Saudi Arabia. They are employed in the entire spectrum of the Saudi economy – from high end scientific and research jobs to construction sector and contribute majorly to the Saudi economy. They play a vital role in strengthening the India-Saudi bilateral ties.
On the Nitaqat or naturalization programme, that had caused some worries over a year ago, the envoy said that the issue has been resolved.
He said Nitaqat has been “completely misunderstood by the media, especially in India. It is not to do with any particular nation, it is nothing except to hire one Saudi out of 10 workers”. He said since the policy was implemented the number of Saudis in jobs in the kingdom has increased.
The envoy said that Nitaqat was being “confused with corrective measures taken regarding illegal persons who reside there. This is a completely different issue.”