Indian mission in Jeddah working to fix passport problem

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    Jeddah: The Indian consulate in Jeddah is using diplomatic channels to make passport authorities in Saudi Arabia accept newly-designed Indian passports, which they are refusing saying they were not officially informed about the change.
    According to Consul General Pranav Ganesh, the consulate is aware of the “unexpected problem”, the Arab News reported Tuesday.

    “The matter has been taken up with the (Indian) embassy in Riyadh that is coordinating with Saudi foreign ministry to officially intimate the change in passport design to passport department authorities,” the report quoted Ganesh as saying.

    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 in design.

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

    Even after the Indians obtained a letter from the Jeddah consulate confirming the validity of the new passport, the Saudis refused to relent saying that the validity of the new passport should come from that Gulf nation’s foreign ministry.

    Ganesan said the Saudi authorities will start accepting the new passports “within a short period” and added that this change in design occurs every 10 or 20 years.

    Indian workers have been thronging the Indian embassy in Riyadh and the consulate in Jeddah ever since a new labour policy was implemented in that country.

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

    The Indian missions in that country earlier appealed to all affected Indian workers to either rectify their residency status or leave the country.

    Affected workers have been trying to take advantage of a grace period announced by the Saudi authorities that is currently under way and will end July 3.

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