Saudi-Malaysian relations: a quantum leap with new agreements

Saudi Arabia and Malaysia have signed four major agreements in Kuala Lumpur on Monday that will go a long way in cementing ties between the two countries.

King Salman and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who held talks on a range of bilateral, regional and international issues, also witnessed the signing of the accords.

“During the summit talks, the two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and ways of enhancing them in various fields to serve the interests of the two countries and their peoples,” said a report published by the state-owned Saudi Press Agency (SPA) here Monday.

King Salman wrote: “I seize the opportunity of my visit to the palace of the prime minister of Malaysia to express my pride in what Malaysia has achieved in terms of progress as well as in terms of the development of relations between our two countries in all areas.

“I am looking forward that my visit to Malaysia results in a quantum leap in the course of relations between the two countries,” said the king.

The Kingdom also announced more scholarships for Malaysian students.

“The Saudi government will increase the number of scholarships for Malaysian students to study in the Kingdom next year,” said Zayed Al-Harithi, head of the cultural section at the Saudi Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. He said there are more than 100 Malaysian students studying in Saudi Arabia.

He said the decision to increase the scholarships was due to 300 applications received last year. “There were only 100 scholarships available for Malaysian students last year to study at Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh,” said Al-Harithi, adding that the Kingdom has many universities in which Malaysian students can attend.

Referring to the four agreements, whose signing was witnessed by King Salman, the SPA report said: “The first memorandum of understanding (MoU) inked Monday is related to cooperation in (the) trade and investment field, which was signed by Minister of State Ibrahim Al-Assaf and Malaysian Minister of Commerce and Industry Mustapa Mohamed.”

The second one includes cooperation in the field of labor and human resources. A joint working committee between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia will be formed to review the skills required by both countries, said Malaysian Human Resources Minister Richard R. Jaem. The third MoU will go a long way in boosting cooperation in scientific and education sectors.

The fourth MoU concerns cooperation between the SPA and the National News Agency of Malaysia. After signing the MoUs, Razak hosted a luncheon banquet in honor of King Salman.
On the sidelines of the visit, several ministerial meetings took place. Dr. Adel Al-Toraifi met Malaysian Minister of Education Mahdzir Khalid at the ministry’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

During the meeting, they discussed cultural affairs and Malaysia’s participation as a guest of honor in the Riyadh International Book Fair scheduled for March 7.

Al-Toraifi stressed the importance of cooperation in the field of education and culture. In another ministerial meeting, Al-Toraifi discussed different aspects of cooperation in the media sector with Malaysian Minister of Multimedia and Communications Saleh Keruak.