King Salman Bin Abdulaziz chose Malaysia as a primary destination on his current Asian tour. However, this is not the first time a Saudi King visits Malaysia, both King Faisal and King Abdullah traveled there in 1970 and in 2006 respectively; highlighting the kingdom’s focus on the growth and development of their bilateral relations with this rising country.
Since their initiation in the early sixties, these relations were characterized by a state of harmony and political agreement reflecting positively on the countries’ mutual cooperation in various fields.
Such compatibility boomed in recent times in the wake of the efforts led by Riyadh to restore legitimacy in Yemen, and with Malaysia’s engagement in the Islamic military coalition against terrorism, as well as its participation in the military maneuvers “North Thunder”, and its condemnation of Iranian policy in the region.
Over the last five decades, these relations never witnessed any disputes or crises at all, as Kuala Lumpur was keen on avoiding any issues that may jeopardize its warm ties with Riyadh.
Perhaps one of the evidences in supporting this intent is firing the chief editor of the mainstream Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times in 2003 for writing an article criticizing the Saudi authorities claiming they did not comply with the annual quota assigned for Malaysians pilgrims.
Thus, we can say that the motive behind the Saudi King’s visit to Malaysia is political in essence and stirred by Iran’s reckless practices in the region, and also economic; driven by Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030Dr. Abdullah al-Madany
Thus, we can say that the motive behind the Saudi King’s visit to Malaysia is political in essence and stirred by Iran’s reckless practices in the region, and also economic; driven by Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030. In other words, the goal of the visit is to assert the existing cooperation through strengthening, expanding and diversifying the collaboration with this important Asian country.
As Malaysia is considered one of the founders of “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation” and one of its pioneering pillars; first led by its General Secretariat, former Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman who was at the forefront of the Islamic solidarity welcoming and supporting the idea from the day King Faisal launched it in the mid-sixties of the twentieth century.
It is well known that Saudi Arabia began several years ago to pay special attention to the cooperation with Malaysia in a number of essential areas and for many reasons. As Malaysia represents a successful Islamic model in development and progress, and its economic institutions have a proven record of experiences as a strong competitor to their counterparts in the West, specifically when it comes to achieving assigned projects.
Another advantage, these companies, because they belong to an ISIS, have the benefit of working within the realm of the sacred areas that prohibit non-Muslims from entering.
Today, Saudi Arabia seeks to move forward with the 2030 promising plan in order to maximize the benefit from the Malaysian expertise, particularly in the field of human development in relation to educating and training professionals and technicians within its national workforce, especially since Malaysia has achieved in this field remarkable records that lead to its transformation into an “Asian tiger.”
Of course there are other areas the kingdom looks forward to benefiting from, such as information technology, health care and modern construction. This comes in the wake of the successful cooperation between both countries in the past few years in a number of investments and projects (such as the execution of the University of Al-Faisaliah project, the establishment of the city of Business and Finance in Riyadh, the huge power and water generator in Shuaiba, and the project for upgrading and developing Saudi Arabia’s traffic signals and monitoring systems).
Like Malaysia’s greeting “Selamat Datang” meaning “Welcome” in Malay, the country seeks on its part to attract as well more Saudi investments relying on its political stability, advanced infrastructure and flexible investment laws, as well as the presence of many profitable opportunities stemming from its ownership of investment tools which suit conservative Saudi investors, such as funds and bond portfolios and stocks adhering to the requirements of Islamic law.
Despite the fact that Saudi capital streamed to Malaysia in recent years to invest in traditional areas such as the food, textile, electrical and plastic manufacturing industries, it did not reach the desired full potential as investments remain modest compared to these of other countries in the Malaysian market.
This article was first published in al-Ittihad newspaper.
Dr. Abdulla Almadani is a Bahraini academic researcher, specializing in International Relations and matters focusing on Asia. He tweets @abu_taymour.