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PM's visit to Saudi Arabia a welcome boost for ties, trade and Islam, says Asia-Europe Institute deputy director

Publish date: Mon, 27 Mar 2023, 02:54 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's three-day official visit to Saudi Arabia from March 22 to 24 is seen as having been successful in boosting international relations and trade, thereby strengthening Islamic activities.

Deputy director of the Asia-Europe Institute, Universiti Malaya (UM), Associate Professor Dr Roy Anthony Rogers Peter Rogers said the three aspects add value to the relationship between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia which has been established for decades.

"The visit is a continuation of the close relationship between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, where in the early history after the country's independence, Saudi Arabia was among the first countries to recognise Malaysia's independence and opened an embassy here around 1961.

"In fact, the country's first prime minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, was appointed as the first Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now known as Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the relationship is already clear, but this visit is seen to further strengthen existing ties," he said on the 'Apa Khabar Malaysia' programme on Bernama TV today.

Roy Anthony Rogers added that the signing of three Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) between Malaysian and Saudi Arabian private companies during the three-day visit opened opportunities for Malaysian companies to engage in the Middle East thus increasing the country's investments.

In addition, Roy Anthony Rogers also described Malaysia and Saudi Arabia as having a special relationship under the umbrella of Islam, especially involving the management of Haj and Umrah pilgrimages which require the cooperation of both countries.

"As is known, there are two holy cities of Muslims located in Saudi Arabia, Makkah and Madinah, and this makes this relationship special and that is why Saudi Arabia was the first non-Asean country to be officially visited by Anwar since assuming office as Malaysia's 10th Prime Minister.

"We also hope that this visit will give space to improve the quota and the cost of the Haj pilgrimage so that Muslims in Malaysia will have the opportunity to perform the Haj at a more affordable cost, even though we are aware that Saudi Arabia is facing an increase in the cost of managing the pilgrimage at the moment," he said. - Bernama

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