//Relax visa norms, Ahamed tells Arab nations

Relax visa norms, Ahamed tells Arab nations

MALAPPURAM: Union Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed has urged Arab countries to relax their visa regimes for the benefit of Indian businessmen.

"All bona fide businessmen [from India] should be given multi-entry and long-term visas," he told a galaxy of Ambassadors who gathered at a resort near Ramanattukara on Sunday.

Mr. Ahamed was speaking at a reception organised by the Malabar Chamber of Commerce in honour of the Ambassadors of the UAE, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Somalia, Oman, Kuwait, Libya, and Morocco.

The emissaries were on a three-day visit to Kerala, arranged jointly by the Union Government and various chambers of commerce. It was the first collective visit of Arab Ambassadors to the State. Mr. Ahamed pointed out that the name Kerala had an Arabic origin in Khairallah, which meant God’s own country. He said the Qatar Government had confirmed its participation in a convention centre project in Thiruvananthapuram. The Minister said he got the confirmation during talks he had with the Qatari authorities on his way back from Iran.

Mohamed Bin Yousef Bin Dawoud Shalwani, Ambassador of Oman, said that India should improve its medical facilities. "You should study the Thailand experience and see what is required for Arab patients," he said. Mr. Shalwani said health care in India had poor marketing. "You must realise that there are several other countries to compete with you."

Libyan emissary Mohfud R.M. Rahiam said Indian institutions should convince other countries that they were willing to do business with foreign nations. Tunisian Ambassador Elyes Kasri said the Arab world was not confined to the Arabian Gulf; it was much beyond that. "On seeing the development in Kerala, we said `Masha Allah,’" he said.C.P. Kunhimohammed, president of the Malabar Chamber of Commerce, presided over the function. J.A. Majeed, former president, welcomed the gathering.