New Delhi: Amid a diplomatic standoff between Qatar and four Arab nations, the welfare of Indian workers in the gas-rich Gulf nation came up for discussion during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in New Delhi on Saturday.
There are around 630,000 expatriate Indians in Qatar, many of whom are blue collar workers in that country’s construction sector.
However, Sheikh Mohamed’s visit, who arrived here on Friday, assumes more significance as it comes at a time when the Gulf nation is in a nearly three-month-old diplomatic standoff with a group of four Saudi Arabia-led Arab nations.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 charging Doha with supporting extremist organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen, and interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
Qatar is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
India is close to Qatar, the largest gas supplier, and Saudi Arabia, one of the biggest crude oil suppliers.