Manila, Riyadh bilateral ties at their best

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Updated 12 June 2013
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Manila, Riyadh bilateral ties at their best

THE Philippines and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong bilateral ties as the Filipinos in the Kingdom and other countries celebrate their 115th Independence Day anniversary.
“As we mark our Independence Day anniversary, Philippine-Saudi relations are at their best since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries,” Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago told Arab News.
The two countries have good relations in all areas including diplomatic, economic, cultural and education.
At present, there are some 674,000 Filipinos working in the Kingdom, according to the Saudi Ministry of Interior. Many of them are skilled workers or professionals in business and industry.
The Philippines and Saudi Arabia have just signed a bilateral labor agreement involving Filipino household service workers (HSW). Such accord is deemed beneficial to both countries.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz visited the Kingdom to sign the agreement on May 19 with
Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Mufarrej bin Saad Al-Haqbani, who signed on behalf of Labor Minister Adel Fakeih.
The agreement was the first for the Kingdom with a manpower-supplying country. It sets the rights and obligations of the employee and employers as well as the recruitment agencies from both countries.
Amb. Tago had earlier met with Saudi Labor Minister Adel Fakeih in March this year and they discussed the state of labor relations.
He conveyed the Philippine government's appreciation of the excellent support and hospitality extended to all Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia.
Fakeih said Filipinos are among the most peaceful and least problematic communities in the Kingdom while Amb. Tago noted “many Filipinos have made Saudi Arabia their second home and have been working in the Kingdom for years.”
On March 23, Amb. Tago met with Riyadh Gov. Prince Khaled bin Bandar, who too lauded Filipino expatriates for their well-earned reputation as efficient workers. Riyadh Deputy Gov. Prince Turki bin Abdulaziz was present during the meeting.
“For decades, the Saudi people have known Filipinos who have contributed to the national development of the Kingdom. They have shown respect for the culture and laws of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Amb. Tago thanked the Riyadh governor and his deputy for “the harmonious relations between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia and for the excellent treatment extended to Filipinos...”
The ambassador also thanked Prince Khaled bin Bandar for the humanitarian consideration extended to the irritant Filipinos in the Riyadh region and the regular clemency granted to the detained Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
The Kingdom has been assisting the Philippines by providing loans for the funding of three major projects in key provinces. The Saudi government has allocated $ 40,000 as financial assistance for various agencies helping in the Mindanao peace program. Last year, the Saudi government donated funds to build some 10,000 new houses for the victims of typhoon Pablo in Mindanao.
The Filipino envoy also said that on the political front, the bilateral ties are stable.
The Kingdom has supported Phillipine candidature in the UN and other international organisations
In February this year, Shoura Council Chairman Abdullah Al-Sheikh joined high-level Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) conference in Manila.
“The high-level participation of Dr. Al-Sheikh reflects our strong bilateral relations as well as Saudi Arabia's commitment to fight corruption, just like the Philippines,” Tago said.
Filipinos are studying Arabic, Islamic law and theology in the Kingdom. A university in Riyadh is offering scholarship to its Filipino staff. In the cultural sector, thousands of Filipino pilgrims have been traveling to the Kingdom to perform Haj and umrah. Eight thousand Filipino pilgrims will perform Haj this year, up from 6,000 last year.
In trade, Saudi Arabia ranked 10th as the Philippines' trading partner in 2012, 31st as export market (up four notches in 2011, when it was 35th as export market) and 8th as import supplier.
During the same period, Saudi Arabia both ranked first as the Philippines' trading partner and import supplier, and ranked second as export market in the Middle East.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's Kingdom Hotel Investments (KHI) infused a $ 200-million capital in 2007 in a project in Makati City, which also includes residential units. The 280-room Fairmont Hotel, a 32-suite Raffles Hotel and 237-room Raffles-branded private residences in Makati has been formally opened.
Filipinos have also invested in the Kingdom in cargo forwarding, restaurants, supermarket, among many others.


Peace, security and economy top agenda of Saudi Shoura session

The current Shoura Council is composed of 150 members including 30 women members. (SPA)
Updated 7 min 46 sec ago
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Peace, security and economy top agenda of Saudi Shoura session

  • Al-Khunaizi said that King Salman’s speech will have “added political and economic significance, and it will lay out the agenda for the rest of the Shoura’s term”

RIYADH: King Salman on Monday will deliver his inaugural address at the Shoura Council, where he will talk about a range of local and regional issues and urge lawmakers to support the government in taking the country forward.
The king’s speech, which will serve as a guideline for Shoura members, will begin the deliberations of the new parliamentary year of the 150-member council.
“The king’s visit to the Shoura is of utmost importance, and his speech will define domestic, regional and foreign policies,” said Hoda Al-Helaissi, a member of the Shoura Council here on Wednesday.
“With the visit of King Salman to the Shoura Council to mark the beginning of the third year of the seventh term, we take a moment to reflect on the past year,” Al-Helaissi said.
She said that “the past year has been a year of challenges and opportunities both within the Kingdom and abroad.”
“Remarkably, as is in our nature, and as exemplified by our leadership, we have remained steadfast in our values and beliefs, committed as a country to the well-being of our citizens, not least as explained in what has now become known as Saudi Arabia’s road-map for the future, Vision 2030,” Al-Helaissi said.
“As the home of the Two Holy Mosques and as an important strategic player in the region, Saudi Arabia has an important role in global politics and we look forward to hearing the king’s speech this coming Monday,” Al-Helaissi said.
Guidelines for addressing local and regional challenges with a special reference to domestic and foreign policies will be spelled out by King Salman, she said.
“Elaborate preparations have been made to receive the king on this occasion,” said Mohammed Al-Khunaizi, another member of the Shoura Council. Al-Khunaizi said that King Salman’s speech will have “added political and economic significance, and it will lay out the agenda for the rest of the Shoura’s term.”
“The occasion marks the beginning of the new year for the council,” said Al-Khunaizi, while forecasting a number of proposals, decisions, draft legislation, treaties and foreign policy matters to be discussed and debated in 2019.
He said that the king’s speech may touch on subjects such as society, security, peace, stability, extremism, economy, financial reforms, regional challenges and foreign policy matters.
Al-Khunaizi noted that the role of women members of the Shoura Council had lent new dimension to the debate and deliberations of the council. He said that the current Shoura Council is composed of 150 members including 30 women members.