When the Saudi royal jet landed at Jakarta’s airport, the world’s eyes were focussed on this visit and its various dimensions. People expressed a lot of interest in Indonesian islands, more than 17,000 in number, and in this good country in general.
During an interview Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, told me that it was important for people to see the beautiful scenes in his country. Widodo said that Saudi King Salman’s visit has brought attention to tourism in Indonesia, particularly of the Gulf tourists.
The visit also witnessed several humanitarian gestures and introduced Indonesian hospitality to us. While King Salman was dining on soup, the Indonesian president started small social talk with him and then posted a video on his Facebook page to a country of about 250 million people.
King Salman talked about how Saudis look at Indonesia, which since the 1980s has been viewed as a vital partner to the Gulf in general and Saudis in particular.
The visit highlighted the country’s beauty which Indonesia has in abundance. Its society also distinguishes itself by its simplicity. People of Indonesia were attracted to Islam through Arab traders who displayed high moral authority while doing business. The word “Arab” in trade was characterized with honesty. Trade between Arabs and Indonesia happened through the coasts of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula.
Apart from the economic cooperation between the two countries – which has reached $4 billion – the social aspect is also of major significance. Indonesian community has persisted with its presence in Saudi Arabia despite isolated and complicated incidents.
There are more than six religions and thousands of diverse ethnicities in Indonesia and its culture has attracted attention of scholars. There are several beliefs, legends and a legacy of historic relics that co-exist in complete harmony. The country’s musical notes create splendid and mesmerizing works of art.
The Indonesian economic needs have not negatively influenced people but rather energized their passion for hard work. The government invested in its people and has managed to overcome difficulties.
There are more than six religions and thousands of diverse ethnicities in Indonesia and its culture has attracted attention of scholars. There are several beliefs, legends and relics that co-exist in complete harmonyTurki Aldakhil
In addition to discussing economic and energy cooperation, the visit also had intellectual and cultural components to it. The Indonesian president also said that the problem of extremism was a priority. He said that fighting terrorism must begin with law and then the matter must be resolved at an ideological level to curb this menace. Indonesia and Saudi Arabia’s interests converge on this challenge.
In his address, King Salman said: “Extremism, terrorism and intervening in countries’ domestic affairs call on us to stand united.” This is necessary as both countries have suffered at the hands of brutal terrorism. Saudi Arabia has a strategic religious stature as it has the two holy mosques while Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in terms of population. When intellectual and security efforts unite, terrorism can be defeated.
Saudi King Salman’s Asian tour is also important from the point of view of the ambitious Vision 2030, which necessitates transformation in economy and resources. Countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and China have useful experience in energy and economic sectors. They facilitate matters within the Saudi economic transformation, which is also linked to cultural and ideological developments needed to keep up with the needs of this era.
King Salman voiced the importance of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and these countries in order to establish economic partnership that suits international developments.
These are the various dimensions of this historic visit the results of which will not only affect us but also future generations who will one day realize that this land with its deserts has created alternatives to non-depleting resources. There will come a day when there will be no more oil but earth will live on, thanks to the goodness of its people.
This article was first published in Al-Bayan on March 08, 2016.
Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.