JAKARTA, Indonesia: The first Saudi monarch to visit Indonesia in nearly half a century has arrived to an elaborate official welcome and crowds of thousands.
King Salman was met by Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as he exited his plane at Halim airport in Jakarta on Wednesday and headed in a convoy to a presidential palace in Bogor, outside of Jakarta, where tens of thousands of people lined the route.
The king is on the second leg of a tour of Asian countries to drum up business and improve ties. The visit will see the two nations sign a pact to combat terrorism, according to the Saudi envoy to Indonesia.
King Salman will hold talks with Widodo and attend a reception. He will also meet religious leaders and visit Southeast Asia’s biggest mosque Istiqlal before heading to the vacation island of Bali for more than a week.
Indonesia hopes to attract billions of dollars of investment from Saudi Arabia, though the trip will also focus on building cultural and religious ties and promoting education.
Saudi Arabia aims to open more Islamic schools in Indonesia, which will teach religion using the Arabic language, and step up the number of scholarships for students.
The king’s visit to Indonesia also comes as fringe Islamist groups grow in influence and Muslim leaders take an increasingly strict line on Islamic issues, which is at odds with Indonesia’s traditional brand of moderate Islam.
Indonesian police killed a militant on Monday after he detonated a small bomb in the West Java city of Bandung. Security officials said they were investigating whether he had links to a radical network sympathetic to Daesh.
King Salman started his Asia trip in Malaysia and also plans to visit Brunei, Japan, China, the Maldives and Jordan.