Indian community bids adieu to its popular consul general


By Hassan Cheruppa

Saudi Gazette

The Indian community here gave an emotional farewell to Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh, one of the most popular consuls general that the city has ever seen. Leaders and prominent figures of the community paid him rich tribute in appreciation of his vast contributions to the vibrant community in all walks of its life.

Sheikh, the longest serving Indian consul general, will leave the Kingdom on Monday to join the Ministry of External Affairs at its headquarters in New Delhi. He will be succeeded by Dr. Sadre Alam, who is currently the first secretary to Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva.

The Consulate General of India organized the farewell function on Tuesday in association with India Forum and Saudi Indian Business Network (SIBN). India’s Ambassador to Guatemala B.S. Mubarak, who was Sheikh’s predecessor, lauded him saying in a video message that the most important quality that he noticed in Sheikh is his resilience.

“Sheikh confronted all the challenges and crises with utmost resilience and stamina, and is also a great team leader, whose very good handwriting I had always been fond of.”

Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Consul General and Consul of Haj Y. Sabir, Consuls Dr. Mohammed Aleem (community welfare), Sahil Sharma (consular), Hamna Mariyam (commerce & PIC) and T. Hangshing (administration) also shared their memorable experiences of working under him.

Speakers of the session also included SIBN President Abdullah Al-Qasabi, Vice President of SIBN and President of Abeer Medical Group Mohammed Alungal, SIBN General Secretary Mir Gazanfar Ali Zaki, India Forum President Mir Ferozuddin, Chairman of Jeddah National Hospital V.P. Mohammed Ali, School Higher Board Member Danish Abdul Gafoor, L. Ramnarayan Iyer, executive editor of Saudi Gazette, Siraj Wahab, managing editor of Arab News, Ajaz Ahmed Khan, former president of India Forum, Eng. Nooruddin (president of Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association), Zakariya Biladi (SIBN), Hassan Cheruppa (Saudi Gazette), Aqeel Jameel (Toastmasters Association), V.K.A Rauf (Navodaya), K.T.A. Muneer (OICC), Vijay Soni, Ashraf Morayoor (Indian Social Forum), Abdul Qader Memon and Praveen (Indian Overseas Forum). Surendra Pal Singh was the master of ceremony.

The speakers noted that Sheikh is leaving behind an impressive and fantabulous legacy of serving more than 1.2 million Hajj pilgrims. The speakers encapsulated Sheikh’s outstanding contributions in serving one-million strong Indian community in the western region of Saudi Arabia apart from the Haj pilgrims during his brilliant career spanning over eight years, first as Hajj consul and then as consul general.

The speakers lauded his remarkable achievements and extraordinary leadership qualities, saying: “Sheikh took the community with infinite confidence and faced challenges with a smile. The Indian community holds special love to this soft spoken diplomat, with unique qualities of humbleness, politeness and humility with a 24* 7 accessibility and serving mentality.”

His wonderful synergy with the media community was also highlighted. It was pointed out that Sheikh proved his mettle as an all-rounder to lead his fantastic young team from success to success. He took the lead in solving community’s issues in a highly systematic and professional way with a drive for innovation to digitizing the entire operation of the consulate and Hajj mission services.

In his farewell speech, Sheikh offered his heartfelt thanks and appreciations to all members of the community for their unflinching support and sincere cooperation. He specially thanked the dedication and selfless services of more than 5,000 Indian volunteers during annual pilgrimage season.

“It has been a wonderful journey, taking with me a great team, and I never considered myself as a boss but only a member of the team. I never behaved as a boss who always gives instructions and runs away (from responsibilities) but rather proved that the boss should be part of carrying out the instructions in the most professional manner.”

“When any criticism comes, I analyzed it in an objective way after checking whether there is any merit in it and resorted to an approach of resolving problems in the initial phase itself.”

Referring to his decision to take up the position of consul general after leaving a prestigious position at United Nations, he said: “Even after getting a golden opportunity to work at the Permanent Mission of India in New York, I preferred to go back to Jeddah within a couple of months after joining the mission because of my ardent desire to serve the Guests of God.

“I have the strong feeling that serving pilgrims and getting their dua is more rewarding than anything else in this world as I see it as a great blessing from Allah,” said Sheikh, who is the first ever member of the Manipuri Muslim Pangals community to join India’s Civil Service.

“I continued to help people whenever and wherever I got an opportunity,” he said while urging the community members to continue helping others. He also called on them to maintain integrity, commitment to cause and remain always positive.

India Forum and SIBN paid tribute to Sheikh with presentation of videos illustrating his illustrious career. Sheikh took over as Hajj consul as Mubarak’s successor in April 2012 and remained in the post until October 2015 and joined the Permanent Mission of India at the United Nations in New York as first secretary on Nov. 26 2015. He assumed office as consul general in June 2016.

Sheikh, who joined Indian Foreign Service in 2004, earlier worked as second secretary and head of chancery at Indian Embassy in Amman from June 2006 to June 2009.

He also served as undersecretary (West Asia and North Africa) at the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi from June 2009 until March 2012 before taking over as deputy consul general and Haj consul. Dr. Nazneen Rahman is his wife. The couple has two sons and two daughters.