States

Qatar issue makes Kerala diaspora in West Asia jittery

Non-resident Keralites and their families panicked as four Arab nations severed consular ties with Doha, and all land, sea, and aviation ports to Qatar closed.

Apprehension has gripped the Kerala diaspora in West Asia, with the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, severing diplomatic ties with oil-rich Qatar.

Non-resident Keralites and their families panicked as consular ties have been severed by these countries, and all land, sea, and aviation ports to Qatar closed. Of the 6.5 lakh Indians working in that country, 3.5 lakh are from Kerala, and their safety has become a concern for their families back home as well as the State government.

Though Qatar Airways, the state-owned flag carrier of the Emirate, has cancelled its flights to Saudi Arabia following the diplomatic crisis, flights to the three international airports of the State were operated according to schedule on Monday.

The airline conducts daily flights to Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode international airports and 11 weekly flights to Cochin International Airport. Keralites working in Gulf states prefer to travel via Doha, and it is reflected in the flights being operated from the Hamad International Airport to the State.

Though sources in the airline maintained that flights to Kerala on Tuesday would be operated as per schedule, uncertainty prevails over the travel of Keralites to Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, and Egypt. Many use Qatar as the gateway to reach Saudi Arabia.

Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Etihad Airways has suspended all its flights to and from Doha. As a result, those proceeding via Emirates flights from its hub in Dubai to Doha will have to depend on other airlines.

Sources in the airlines said the impact of the diplomatic crisis on the aviation sector would be felt in the coming days, and flyers would have to skip the Hamid International Airport for going to other Gulf states.

The crisis will also be a setback to the Kerala diaspora in Qatar that has been growing noticeably in the wake of the booming construction sector as part of the build-up to the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Unlike other the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations where the Kerala diaspora is shrinking due to a host of reasons, Keralites have been looking forward for greener pastures in Qatar of late.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 11:28:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/diplomatic-crisis-kerala-diaspora/article18724237.ece

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