Veteran Indian diplomat given a warm farewell

Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao, sixth left, and Nepal Ambassador Udaya Raj Pandey, eight left, pose for photo at a farewell reception hosted in honor of Sibi George, minister and deputy chief of Indian mission, seventh left, in Riyadh recently.

Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao, sixth left, and Nepal Ambassador Udaya Raj Pandey, eight left, pose for photo at a farewell reception hosted in honor of Sibi George, minister and deputy chief of Indian mission, seventh left, in Riyadh recently.

Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao hosted a farewell reception on Thursday in honor of Sibi George, minister and deputy chief of mission, who will be traveling to New Delhi today after completing about 18 months of his diplomatic tour in Saudi Arabia.

The reception, held at the India house here, was attended by several diplomats, prominent members of the Indian community and local newsmen.

George will join as joint secretary at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on his return to India. Arab News caught up with George and his wife, Joice Sibi, at the farewell function and asked them to share their experiences and fond memories of the Kingdom.

George, who was very popular among his Saudi friends, as well as among the members of the huge Indian diaspora, said that “it was a beautiful experience being in the Kingdom.”

George’s duties had previously taken him to Egypt, Qatar, India (on the East Asian desk), Pakistan, Washington and Iran.

“It is very difficult to describe in words how much working in Saudi Arabia has enriched my experience,” said the outgoing diplomat, while thanking his embassy’s colleagues, especially Ambassador Rao.

He said that “the Kingdom and India have established whole new ways of working with each other, probably more effectively than at any time in the past.”

“But what has been most extraordinary about my posting are the visit of Crown Prince Salman, minister of defense, to India and the repatriation of about 140,000 Indian workers following the amnesty declared by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah last year,” he said.

He further pointed out that a total of 1.4 million Indian workers also benefitted from the amnesty, during which they legalized their status or corrected documents as per the new labor policy.

George said that the larger Indian community has earned a very good name for themselves in the Kingdom because of their “hard work, unmatched skills and honesty.”

The community has helped in strengthening Indo-Saudi relations while contributing positively to the development of the Saudi economy, he said.

“I have made many friends among Saudis, Indians and among Riyadh-based foreign diplomats,” said the outgoing Indian official.

George said that he is leaving the Kingdom with “great satisfaction and experiences.”

“I am happy that I was in a position to contribute qualitatively to enhancing Indian-Saudi relations,” said George.

He said that the realm of bilateral relations has expanded and today includes areas like the economic, political, defense and other domains. In fact, the two countries signed the defense pact during the recent visit of Crown Prince Salman to India, he said.

 

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