In its first reaction since the controversial drive under a new labour law, Saudi Arabia today said that over 1.4 million Indians have regularised their job status and asserted that action was taken against illegal workers irrespective of their nationality.

Amid concerns over return of large number of Indians following implementation of the ‘Nitaqat’ legislation, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia said Indian community has benefited the most from the grace period offered to regularise the job status, which expired on November 3, with its size going up to nearly 2.8 million and complimented its contribution to the Kingdom.

It said the legislation is being implemented with an aim to ensure that all immigrants living in the Kingdom have .

“correct legal status” and claimed that no legal worker has been affected.

“As far as Indian community in the Kingdom is concerned, it is the community that has benefited the most from the grace period. According to available data, more than 1.4 million Indians regularised their status during the grace period.

“Moreover, during the six months of the grace period, the size of the Indian community in the Kingdom has gone up to nearly 2.8 million,” the embassy said in a statement.

The Nitaqat law makes it mandatory for local companies there to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers.

There has been widespread perception that the new policy will lead to denial of job opportunities for a large number of Indians working in that country.

Earlier this month, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi had said that around 1.34 lakh Indians have come back from Saudi Arabia after the country launched a strict inspection campaign to target illegal foreigners earlier this year and the extended deadline expired on November 3.

“The Indian community is one of the most appreciated communities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and that Kingdom values their contribution to the development projects and strengthening people—to—people contacts between our two friendly countries,” the Embassy said.

The Embassy said, “Nitaqat has nothing to do with the law enforcement measures being implemented against individuals who are in violation of labour and residency laws”.

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