New Delhi: India and Saudi Arabia on Thursday inked a “landmark” agreement for protection of the rights of Indian domestic workers in the kingdom as visiting Saudi Arabian Labour Minister Adel Bin Mohammad Faqeeh said a committee of senior officials from both sides would be set up to look into any possible future difficulties.

The Agreement on Labour Cooperation for Domestic Service Workers Recruitment was inked by Indian Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and Faqeeh here.

Ravi thanked the Saudi minister for “adopting a humanitarian approach” while adopting the Nitaqat work policy. He said the domestic workers protection agreement would help streamline the labour market.

“This would go a long way in protecting the interests of Indian workers,” he said.

The agreement was conceptualised in April last year during Ravi’s visit to the kingdom.

Faqeeh, while emphasising the “deep historic relations binding both countries”, said the “position of bilateral labour and economic relations is excellent and [we] look forward to enhance it”.

“This important agreement is the result of the excellent relations between the two countries,” he said, adding that in case of any possible difficulties that arise, the two sides have agreed to set up a joint committee of senior officials that would meet periodically and alternatively in each others’ countries.

Ravi, answering queries, said the agreement was a “landmark agreement for protection of worker’s interests”. He said both sides had agreed on the need for a concrete way of dealing with the issue.

Of the around 500,000 domestic workers in Saudi Arabia, mostly working as maids, helpers, drivers and cleaners, around 10 per cent are women. There are 2.8 million Indian workers in Saudi Arabia and Indians form the largest expatriate community in the kingdom.