What is the hidden agenda?
January 13, 2010 18:54 PM
Security MoU, Audience With King Among Highlights Of Najib’s Visit
From Abdul Muin Abdul Majid
Royal Greetings…Governor of Jeddah, Prince Mishaal Majed (right) greeting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak upon his arrived at Jeddah International Airport. Najib’s four day visit to Arabian Kingdom at the invitation of the Saudi Monarch, King Abdullah Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, is expected to deeper relations between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.Pic: Rushdan MananBy Muin Abdul Majid
JEDDAH, Jan 13 (Bernama) — Ties between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are set to deepen with the visit by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to this oil-rich kingdom, with Kuala Lumpur eyeing further cooperation in areas like economy, trade, information technology, science and security.
Among the highlights of Najib’s four-day visit are an audience with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Abdul Aziz Al-Saud in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on security policy cooperation.
Malaysian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Datuk Syed Omar Syed Mohamad Al-Saggaf, told reporters that relations between the two Muslim countries were good, but Malaysia would like to see closer interaction between members of Saudi and Malaysian business communities.
Najib is scheduled to arrive in Jeddah tonight (early Thursday morning in Malaysia) accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
His entourage includes Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, as well as several state leaders.
This will be Najib’s first official visit to Saudi Arabia since becoming Malaysia’s sixth prime minister in April last year. It is at the invitation of King Abdullah, according to Malaysia’s foreign ministry.
Besides King Abdullah, Najib is also slated to call on Saudi Second Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
According to Syed Omar, talks between Najib and Saudi leaders would touch on issues within the framework of the Jeddah-based Organisation of the Islamic Conference, as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.
With security matters remaining a concern in many countries across the globe, the security MoU to be inked during the trip would cover cooperation against terrorism, drug trafficking, falsifying documents and cross-border crimes.
Malaysia, which is positioning itself as a centre for education excellence, was also keen to attract more students from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, said Syed Omar.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s dominant oil producer and a major player in the Arab and Muslim world. It is home to over 25 million people.
This desert kingdom, the birthplace of Islam, welcomes tens of thousands of Malaysian haj pilgrims each year, as well as millions of pilgrims from other nations from across the globe.
In terms of total trade for the West Asian region, Saudi Arabia is Malaysia’s second largest trading partner after the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Official data showed that in 2008, total trade amounted to over RM11 billion or 20.3 per cent, of Malaysia’s trade with the region and 0.9 per cent of Malaysia’s global trade.
Exports to Saudi Arabia amounted to RM3.5 billion and imports RM7.6 billion in 2008, while in the January-July period last year, trade with Saudi Arabia amounted to RM4.1 billion.
As at December 2008, Saudi companies implemented three manufacturing projects in Malaysia involving a capital investment of RM80.6 million in electrical and electronics, as well as textile products.
In the non-manufacturing sector, significant investments were in information, communications and technology-related, property and financial services.
Malaysia and Saudi Arabia recently set up a US$2.5 billion joint venture company that will start with investments in oil and gas, renewable energy and real estate sector in Malaysia and overseas.
Najib is scheduled to visit King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, as well as perform the umrah (minor pilgrimage).
He will also attend a gathering with members of the Malaysian business community in Saudi Arabia.