Jeddah: Saudi Arabia highly values the contributions of 2.73 million Indian expatriates working in the Kingdom and the salutations and greetings in Hindi at the country's third largest airport here is an indication of this.
"We place very high importance to our relations with India. Good relations between the two countries are in the benefit of the people of the two countries," a senior Saudi government official told PTI.
'Namaste', 'Swagat' and 'Dhanyawad' emblazoned on signboards at the airport here is an indication of the priority given by the Saudi Arabian government to its ties with India.
The importance given to Hindi language at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport here is next only to Arabic, the local language, and English.
Salutations and greetings in Hindi are flashed on the electronic message boards within the airport and even on the parking fee counters.
Over 2.73 million Indian expatriates are working in oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
They are working in the entire spectrum of Saudi economy from high-end scientific and research jobs to construction sector and contribute immensely to the Saudi economy.
"They play a vital role in strengthening the India-Saudi bilateral relations. Contrary to the public perception that most Indians going to Saudi are labourers, we have nearly 5,00,000 Indians working as professionals here," the official said.
He said the bilateral trade between Saudi Arabia and India had grown from just over USD 25 billion dollars in 2010-11 to USD 48 billion in 2013-14.
"We have multifaceted relations with India. Our bilateral business ties are being steadily expanded and further strengthened by continuous interaction and cooperation," the official said.
According to the India Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest trade partner for India and a major source of energy.
India imports around 20 per cent of its crude oil requirement from Saudi Arabia, which explains the fall in the bilateral trade figures for 2014-15.
During 2014-15, the bilateral trade reached USD 39.4 billion registering a decrease of 18.96 per cent compared to 2013-14 (USD 48.62 billion) mainly due to sharp decline in oil prices since June 2014, the Indian Embassy said.