Malaysian PM intends to tap opportunities in Saudi Arabia

Jan 16 (Bernama) — Malaysia intends to take advantage of ample
economic opportunities offered by Saudi Arabia, with Prime Minister
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak describing relations between the two Muslim
countries as “very important and strategic”.

He said Saudi Arabia’s US$144 billion budget for 2010 should
translate into attractive possibilities for Malaysian companies to be
involved in the kingdom’s economic activities and other fields.

“I hope that we’ll be able to expand economic linkages between the
two countries not only in terms of trade but also in areas like Islamic
finance and insurance, halal food and real estate development,” he said.

The prime minister said this when addressing a gathering organised
by the Malaysia Business Council here Friday night in conjunction with
his four-day official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Total trade between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia was close to US$1.8 billion during January-November 2009.

Najib said Malaysia was also eyeing more visitors as well as students and medical tourists from this oil-rich kingdom.

“I believe that in terms of future prospects, Saudi Arabia holds
wonderful opportunities for us and we must position ourselves well in
this market,” the prime minister said.

He said Malaysia ranked the 13th largest foreign investor in Saudi Arabia in 2008.

“And if we include the total investment value of Malaysian firms in
the Jizan Economic City, Malaysia would rank the fourth largest foreign
investor in the kingdom,” he observed.

The total number of Malaysian companies registered with the Saudi
Arabian General Investment Authority is 87, of which 17 are involved in
the industrial sector with a total investment value of US$4.3 billion.

The rest are involved in the services sector with investments worth US$238.6 million.

Najib reckoned that there were positive vibes between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia that should lead to enhanced bilateral ties.

According to the prime minister, Saudi leaders held Malaysia in high esteem and viewed it as a friendly nation in many aspects.

He said they were also impressed with the conduct of Malaysian haj pilgrims.

Najib flew to Riyadh after the event where he is scheduled to have an audience with King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

The prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia is at the invitation of the Saudi king. (By Muin Abdul Majid/ Bernama)