King Salman’s visit to Malaysia, the first country on the Saudi delegation’s month-long tour of Asia, comes after more than 55 years of strong diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia and Malaysia opened embassies in Kuala Lumpur and Jeddah, respectively, in mid-1961.
The relationship can be described as deep-rooted, with state visits dating back many decades. The first was made by the late King Faisal in 1970; the late King Abdullah visited in January 2006. Malaysia’s current Prime Minister Najib Razak has also visited the Kingdom.
As an extension of military cooperation between the two countries, Malaysian troops have participated in the Saudi-led coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen, as well as in the “North Thunder” joint military exercises. Malaysia is also a member of the Saudi-led Islamic military alliance against terrorism, and joined in condemning the Houthis’ targeting of Makkah with a missile.
Saudi Arabia and Malaysia have also signed several agreements and memoranda of understanding in the educational and tourism fields.
Saudi exports to Malaysia are dominated by crude oil and related products, while TV and video devices are among the most prominent Malaysian exports to the Kingdom.
Saudi King arrives in Kuala Lumpur Sunday
King Salman was accorded a red carpet welcome at the Parliament Square in the Malaysian capital on Sunday at the start of his four-day state visit to Malaysia.
Later the king was conferred the top Malaysian honor of Darjah Utama Seri Mahkota Negara by Sultan Muhammad V, the king of Malaysia, at a banquet dinner hosted for King Salman and his entourage.
On arrival at the Parliament Square in central Kuala Lumpur, Sultan Muhammad V greeted King Salman together with Prime Minister Najib Razak, his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and members of the Malaysian cabinet. The welcoming ceremony began with the rendition of the national anthems of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, followed by a 21-gun salute.
The king inspected the honor guard. Najib earlier welcomed the King at the Bunga Raya Complex of the KL International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang. After landing at the airport, King Salman was joined by Najib for the 45-minute car ride to the hilltop Parliament Square in central Kuala Lumpur for the official welcoming ceremony. King Salman, later on Sunday night, attended a state banquet at Istana Negara (National Palace), which was hosted by the Malaysian king.
The event was marked by the conferment of the top state award on King Salman, said a report published by SPA. The Darjah Utama Seri Mahkota Negara, which is a top Malaysian award given to high-ranking officials for their efforts in promoting friendship and understanding or for advocating noble causes, comprises a collar, a star and a badge. The late King Khalid was also presented this award in 1982.
Speaking during the banquet, King Salman extended greetings and thanks to Malaysian leaders for their hospitality.
“I would like to express appreciation of the government and people of Malaysia for warm welcome and generous hospitality,” the king said. “We are happy about the high level of relations and cooperation between our two countries in all fields as well as our efforts directed to upgrade and enhance them in all fields to serve our joint interests.”
He added: “We confirm that the Kingdom stands with all its might behind the Islamic causes in general and we are fully ready for assistance and cooperation with Malaysia on issues faced by Muslims.”
On Monday, King Salman is scheduled to have a working session with the Malaysian premier during which the king will witness the signing of several agreements.
Later, King Salman is expected to visit University of Malaya, where he will be conferred an honorary doctorate. The king’s itinerary also features receiving an honorary degree from the International Islamic University of Malaysia. The International Islamic University will confer the honorary degree as well as a lifetime outstanding achievement award on King Salman.
Other highlights of the visit are the convening of the Malaysia-Saudi Arabia Business Forum, a get-together with muftis and a meeting of Saudi and Malaysian students sponsored by the Kingdom.