As the global recession slowly recedes and several Arab countries limp back to good economic health, there is fresh hope that West Asia will continue to attract Indian professionals and skilled workers.

According to Ahmed Salem Al-Washishi, Head of Mission in India of the 22-nation Arab League, some of these States will need more Indian hands to rebuild their economies damaged by the recession.

“The Arab nations have tremendous confidence in Indian workers’ ability to contribute to the economic recovery,” Dr. Al-Washishi told The Hindu.

The global recession, set off by last year’s Wall Street meltdown, has deeply impacted many Gulf States, especially the United Arab Emirates.

Dubai, the financial nerve centre of West Asia, was ravaged sending ongoing development projects into cold storage.

Dubai’s hopes

Thousands of Indian workers and technicians were laid off. But the trend has now thawed and there is a glimmer of hope that Dubai may regain its economic glory.

Dr. Al-Washishi, who was here to speak at a seminar on Indo-Arab relations held to mark the 40th anniversary of the Arabic Department at Maharaja’s College on Tuesday, said that India was an important strategic partner of the Arab League and that the country was held in high esteem by the member countries. (India has observer status at the Cairo-headquartered Arab League, which is a grouping of Arab-speaking West Asian, North African and Northeast African States.)

Revenue reserves

Dr. Al-Washishi, a former economics professor, said the recession-hit Arab nations would bounce back soon.

He pointed out that unlike in the U.S. and Europe which had been wounded by the recession, many oil-rich Arab nations could minimise the impact because of the revenue reserves they had.

There was a collective effort to battle the recession together and special economic sessions had been organised by the League.

Positive impact

A positive upshot of the recession for the Arab nations had been the realisation that they needed to enormously augment their relationships with developing countries. “An important lesson we learnt from the recession is that we have to enhance our relationships with developing countries, especially India,” he said. As a result, there was more economic networking with such countries.

He said the League had taken a very strong position against terrorism. “We believe that terrorism is a global phenomenon and hence it needs to be fought together,” he remarked.

Borderless terrorism

The League also believed that terrorism was neither religion-specific nor region-specific; it was a borderless phenomenon.

Dr. Al-Washishi said the League of Arab States had stood firmly by India in the wake of the Mumbai blasts.

He recalled that the League’s general secretary, Amr Moussa, had led a 300-member delegation of Arab intellectuals and artistes to Delhi to offer support and express solidarity with India.

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