Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, renowned economist and architect of India’s economic reforms, was on Monday conferred an honorary doctorate by Saudi Arabia’s prestigious King Saud University.

Accepting the honour, the Prime Minister recalled his days as a University Professor and his role in inspiring young minds.

Dr. Singh said education plays a major role in social and economic transformation.

“Like Saudi Arabia, India too recognises the importance of education in social empowerment, as part of that 30 new Central Universities will be coming up in India,” he said.

An MoU for cooperation was signed between Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the King Saud University in the presence of the Prime Minister.

Later, speaking at a community event at the Indian Embassy hosted by Indian Ambassador Talmeez Ahmed, the Prime Minister praised the contributions made by the over 1.8 million Indian citizens in this oil-rich kingdom.

“India is proud of you and proud of your achievements in this country,” he said.

Dr. Singh said King Abdullah and other Saudi leaders were full of praise for the Indian community here describing them as “law-abiding, hard-working and warm human beings“.

“My heart is filled with joy at this universal praise,” he said.

The Prime Minister said he shared the feelings of King Abdullah who during his visit to New Delhi in 2006 had said he had come to his second home.

Dr. Singh said during the visit both countries had agreed to build a “meaningful and substantive partnership”.

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