Hyderabad: Hyderabad is turning out to be a hub of foreign consulates in the country. With more and more countries evincing interest in setting up their Embassies here, the ‘nawabi shahr’ can claim to be a global city in the real sense.
Already, Hyderabad is home to consulates of five countries — United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, Russia and Iran. Establishment of a Saudi Consulate has been in the offing for quite some time. When the Saudi Ambassador to India, Soud Mohammed Alsati, called on Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao in October, the latter made a strong pitch for opening the Saudi Consulate in the city.
The Government of Afghanistan too is keen to set up its consulate in Hyderabad, the second one after Mumbai. It also has its Embassy in Delhi. Afghanistan’s envoy to India, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, who was in the city recently, said a delegation would be coming soon from Afghanistan to look for a suitable place for the Consulate in Hyderabad.
Afghanistan plans to strengthen its ties with India and establish sister-city relationship between Hyderabad and Jalalabad. The consulate in Hyderabad is expected to give a boost to trade and business activity. Abdali also hinted at launching direct flights from Hyderabad to Kabul. At present, direct flights are available only from Delhi.
The TRS government, which is attracting investments from all over the world, wants more countries to open their consulates in Hyderabad. This would not only give a fillip to trade and business activity but also add a feather in the cap of the new State.
Sources say that the Saudi Consulate in Hyderabad could be a reality soon. Besides fulfilling a long-felt need, it will be of great benefit not just to the people of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, but also the neighbouring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It would also be of immense benefit to a large number of Haj and Umra pilgrims from these States.
The Chief Minister has already made a representation in this connection with the Union government and the Ministry of External Affairs too has agreed to the proposal. The ball is now in the Saudi Arabia’s court.
More than 3 lakh people from Telangana are now working in the desert kingdom. Presently, one has to rush to Delhi or Mumbai to get visa stamped or hire agents to manage the paperwork. Even in matters relating to Haj or Umra, one has to travel to these cities sometimes. The opening of the Saudi Consulate in Hyderabad would expedite matters and would be of great help to a large number of South Indians living and working in the desert kingdom.
Hyderabad’s ties with Saudi Arabia are pretty old. Hyderabadis were believed to be among the first expatriates to land in Saudi Arabia in the late 1960s. Official statistics show that next to Keralites, Hyderabadis are the single biggest expat community in Saudi Arabia.