There was a sense of contentment in the offices of Coastaldigest.com, both in India as well as Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when calls and mails flooded in from Non Resident Indians congratulating and enquiring over the confirmation of Air India Express officially declaring the launch of direct flight between South Indian port city and the capital of the Eastern Province of the Kingdom.
It was precisely three-and-a-half year ago that Coastaldigest.com started its humble effort to lend a helping hand to thousands of expatriates living in Saudi Arabia, far away from their homeland of coastal Karnataka and adjacent areas. Today, when the struggle has yielded tangible result it feels overwhelmed to get such an outstanding level of respect reciprocated from those going to be benefited from same.
We are grateful to Udupi-Chikmagalur MP K Jayaprakash Hegde, who pressurised union civil aviation ministry with the help of a feasibility study report prepared by Coastaldigest.com. The enthusiasm Mr Hegde has shown towards the issues of NRIs residing in Middle Eastern countries after becoming a Member of Parliament last year is commendable. What makes efforts of Mr Hegde all the more worthy of appreciation is the fact that the demands of the expatriates were so far ignored by most of the elected representatives of coastal Karnataka.
Looking back, we remember the efforts of all NRI organisations and individuals who had been striving for this cause for many years. We appreciate the effort of organisations like West Coast NRI Forum, Karavali Welfare Association-Riyadh, Jamiyathul Falah, etc., elected representatives like Union Minister M Veerappa Moily and Mangalore MLA U T Khader, Air India Express Chief Operating Officer Ansbert D'souza, former Director of Mangalore International Airport M R Vasudeva and activists like G A Bava, Farrook Shahbandri, Shabbir Ahmed, Kamath, Iftikhar Ahmed, Parvez Ali among others. We are also thankful for the support of media fraternity throughout this struggle.
Our struggle included running from pillar to post umpteen number of times, meeting officials, bureaucrats, elected representatives and union ministers to get green signal for airlines to operate direct flight between Mangalore and Saudi Arabia. We managed to sustain our struggle because of the support from various NRI organizations and above mentioned individuals in this cause.
The Air India Express’ announcement to start direct flight operation between Mangalore and Dammam is not only a good news for thousands of expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia, but it also indicates the possibility of booming Indo-Saudi bilateral relations all set to reach new heights.
It can be considered as fulfillment of the obligations as part of the two important documents viz. Delhi Declaration and Riyadh Declaration, which commit the two countries to pursue a joint strategic vision to promote bilateral relations for mutual benefit as well as for peace, stability and development of the entire region. Not to mention the Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia play a vital role in strengthening ties between two old allies.
The demand of a large number of readers of Coastaldigest.com that Mangalore should be connected directly to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia and Jeddha, a prominent religious tourism destination in Western Province of Saudi Arabia, along with Dammam gains importance in the back drop of above commitments. We assure our readers that we would continue to work towards connecting Mangalore to Riyadh and Jeddah too.
At the same time we would like to remind that it is the responsibility of the airline to ensure a safe and pleasant journey to its customers.