Toll-free helpline launched for Indians in UAE


Dubai: People of Indian origin living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who need help in legal, financial and medical issues, now have a toll-free helpline — the first of its kind for migrant workers by any country in the world.

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The toll-free number is 800-46342 — the last five digits of which read “INDIA” if matched with the alphabet key positions on a mobile phone.

The helpline of the much-awaited Indian Workers’ Resource Centre was dedicated to the Indian community in the UAE by visiting Indian President Pratibha Patil in Dubai Tuesday evening, the Khaleej Times reported Wednesday.

The resource centre will receive, register and monitor grievance petitions and offer counselling to members of the Indian community in legal, financial and medical issues.

It will work in cooperation with the Indian diplomatic mission. It will also have a walk-in counter to receive petitions directly from Indian workers on all days from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. One-to-one counselling will be given by a panel of 14 experts, who will attend to calls in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi.

In Abu Dhabi, another walk-in centre will function from the Indian Embassy from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays.

Patil announced the launch of the centre and the number at a programme organised by Indian Ambassador to the UAE M.K. Lokesh at the India Club in Dubai.

Addressing over 1,000 people of Indian origin present at the gathering, Patil said: “I would like to acknowledge the contributions made by the Indian community to the growth and transformation of this country.”

“The role of Indian workers requires special mention, and as do their problems and issues, which should receive our careful attention,” she said.

Dubai was chosen for the launch of the project since it has a high number of Indian expatriates. Depending on the success of the initiative, the Indian government plans to launch similar centres in other countries which have a large presence of Indian workers.

Patil had a busy day Tuesday as she visited the Abu Dhabi Indian School and interacted with the students and teachers there. She later met top business leaders at a meeting organised by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Abu Dhabi Indian School was started 35 years ago for the benefit of the Indian community in the UAE. It had only three teachers and 53 elementary level pupils at that time, but has now grown into a leading school, with over 450 staff and 5,000 students.

There are over five million Indians in the Gulf region, and according to official statistics, the number of Indian companies operating in the UAE has reached over 4,300.