Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan addressing the press conference. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Relations between the UAE and the South Indian state of Kerala have reached a new level with state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s visit. The chief minister said he has invited His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to visit Kerala.

Proposals for projects to support Non-Resident Keralites here and to develop various sectors in Kerala have been initiated during his first official visit to the UAE.

A day after meeting His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Vijayan said his various proposals have been considered with positive interest.

Among the proposals are a family city to provide affordable housing and a cultural centre for the expatriate Malayalee community in Sharjah.

“I have given the proposals in writing. He [Shaikh Sultan] instructed his officials to look into them and take necessary action right in front of us,” Vijayan said at a press conference in Dubai yesterday.

He said he requested the Sharjah Ruler to donate land to the community for building these projects. He has also proposed the establishment of more schools that provide Malayalam as a subject in the UAE to cater to the young generation.

With regard to his discussion with executives from Tecom Group, a Dubai Holding company, he said the former has agreed to complete the Kochi Smart City project by 2021, a year ahead of the current plan.

“They have also shown interest in collaborating with us for various projects in tourism, coastal area development and Ayurveda,” he said.

The plan is to develop unexplored shorelines in Kerala, especially in the Malabar area, and establish Ayurveda health care centres in the UAE.

Thanking the Sharjah Ruler for accepting his invitation to visit Kerala in September, Vijayan said he has also submitted a letter inviting Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid and Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs and the Future, to visit the state.

Vijayan, who also holds the charge of Non-Resident Keralite’s Affairs, said the government will restructure the NORKA Roots department and expand its services. He assured that the government will go ahead with the NRI commission that has quasi-judicial powers in resolving complaints from the expats. “We have resolved the initial difficulties faced by the commission. It will go ahead as planned.”

The government will retain the position of Calicut International Airport at Karippur and will facilitate acquiring the required land for the expansion of the runways so that service of wide-bodied aircraft can be resumed, he said.

However, he confirmed that his government is not considering the revival of the Air Kerala project, an exclusive airline for the state to the Middle East, proposed by the previous government.

Later, he attended a public reception at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre which was attended by thousands of Keralites.

Addressing the gathering, he announced that his government will take steps to facilitate repatriation of expats' dead bodies free of charge. 

He said the government willlaunch a job portal and also provide training for candidates applying for jobs abroad. There is a plan to draft laws that will prevent exploitation of overseas job seekers and blacklist firms that cheat them, he added.