149 Indians serving prison terms for minor and financial offences in Sharjah will be released following an amnesty by the Emirate's ruler Sultan Bin Mohammed Al-Quasimi who is visiting Kerala. 

The announcement, which was made in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday evening, came in response to a request by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking the release of Keralites who had completed three years of their jail term in Sharjah. 

According to a joint communique issued by the Sharjah and Kerala governments, those facing punishment for minor offences and financial misappropriation would be given pardon as per the general amnesty. 

"While our request was only for a release, Sheikh Sultan Al-Qasimi went a step ahead to allow the released to remain and work in Sharjah. CM said that it is a very kind gesture and that the people of Kerala appreciate it wholeheartedly," said a release from the Kerala CM's office.

Al-Quasimi was honoured with an honorary D.lit Degree from Calicut University at a function held at the Raj Bhavan. Kerala governor P Sathasivam conferred the degree. 

Sharjah also agreed to open an institution of higher learning for Arabic studies and research and set up a chain of skill development centres for imparting training to those seeking jobs in the Gulf region. 

"This was announced by Al-Quasimi during his one-to-one meeting with CM Pinarayi Vijayan", the communique said. 

Sharjah has also accepted in-principle the state's proposal for giving international driving licence to those who seek jobs in the Emirate, the release said. The Kerala government also offered land for construction of a permanent building for the UAE consulate in the state capital. 

The Sharjah Family City project, a cultural centre and International Education Complex to be set up by Kerala in Sharjah were some of the other projects under the active consideration of the Sharjah government, the release said. 

A joint committee consisting top officials of Sharjah and Kerala would be set up to work out an action plan to implement projects agreed to by both sides. 

Al-Quasimi, who reached here on September 24 on a five-day visit to the state, promised he would be back within a year to celebrate the fulfilling of promises he had made. 

The ruler met Pinarayi at his official residence on Tuesday morning. He also met the council of ministers on Monday and discussed various issues pertaining to Kerala and Sharjah.

(With PTI inputs)