JEDDAH: Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia have maintained cordial and close bonds since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1975. The friendship is characterized by mutual understanding and a deep sense of fraternity.
The Kingdom is the largest and most valued destination for the Bangladeshi workforce, which contributes significantly to the national development of both countries. Remittance flows from Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh comprised almost 22 percent of the total amount, which was approximately $34 billion, in 2018.
Both countries share common views on many regional and international issues, particularly those relating to the Islamic community. These shared priorities, perspectives and fraternal relations have strengthened the collaboration within the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other international and regional forums. Existing bonds have been reinforced by ever-deepening bilateral ties in the fields of trade, investment, defense, culture, education and manpower. The Kingdom now stands as one of Bangladesh’s most important bilateral partners and the relationship dynamics have evolved from one-dimensional to multilayered cooperation over the years to reach its present maturity.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina embarked on her sixth official visit to Saudi Arabia last October to strengthen bonds at the highest levels. She had an audience with King Salman and met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The king and prime minister discussed ties, as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest. Both leaders commended the unprecedented gain in momentum of bilateral relations in recent years, and emphasized the further expansion of relations through cooperation and engagement.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan gives Bangladesh the opportunity to explore new areas of engagement in manpower, trade, investment, education and agriculture.
Bangladesh also has a vision: To become a middle-income country by 2021 and to attain the status of a high mid-income country by 2041. These goals warrant engagement in fast-growing trade and economic cooperation with major partners like Saudi Arabia.
During the meeting between the king and prime minister it was reiterated that the cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh would continue, and that both countries would be development partners.
There will be an exchange of economic and investment-related delegations and economic, cultural and defense cooperation will play a pivotal role in fulfilling those objectives.
The prime minister appreciated the visionary role played by King Salman in the development of the Muslim community. There is a special place for Saudi Arabia in the heart of Bangladeshi Muslims, as the Two Holy Mosques exist in Makkah and Madinah, and Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Thus, a great opportunity exists between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia to work together to disseminate the real message of Islam so that nobody can benefit from misrepresenting the religion.
In her meeting with the crown prince, the prime minister highlighted recent development activities, particularly in food security, housing, education, and poverty reduction. Bangladesh offered to allocate land for an exclusive economic zone for Saudi Arabia, which should encourage more Saudi investors to Bangladesh. The crown prince said Saudi Arabia was interested in broadening its relationship with Bangladesh for the mutual benefit of both countries. He emphasized regular interaction of business bodies to further accelerate trade and investment.
The prime minister also attended a business seminar in the capital that was organized by the Council of Saudi Chambers and Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh. She urged Saudi entrepreneurs and businessmen to invest in the 100 Special Economic Zones in priority sectors such as energy, power, infrastructure and communication networks, IT, textiles and agro-based industries. She also called on them to take advantage of the investment and business climate in Bangladesh.
She expressed hope that Saudi entrepreneurs would particularly benefit if they opted for those zones set aside for Saudi investors.
Earlier this month a ministerial-level delegation went to Bangladesh to explore business and investment opportunities. The team comprised 32 members from the government and private sector, including delegates from the Public Investment Fund and the Saudi Fund for Development. Two agreements and four memoranda of understanding were signed on investment cooperation. The two sides also agreed to review progress within the next two months.
It is expected that the overall relationship dynamic between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia will fundamentally change in the next few years.
National Day Messages
President's Message: Working together to honor our independence
Md. Abdul Hamid
President of Bangladesh
Today is March 26, the Independence Day of Bangladesh. On the occasion of our great Independence and National Day, I extend my heartfelt greetings and warm felicitations to my fellow countrymen living at home and abroad.
On this historic day, I recall with profound respect the architect of our independence, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I pay my deep homage to the martyrs and valiant sons of the soil, who made the supreme sacrifice in the war of liberation. I also recall with deep reverence our four National Leaders, valiant freedom fighters, organizers, supporters, our foreign friends, and people from all walks of life who made immense contributions to attain our right to self-determination and the war of liberation. The contributions of all will be written in golden letters in the history of our independence forever.
We have achieved our hard-earned independence through huge sacrifice. Bangabandhu always cherished a dream of building a happy and prosperous country along with achieving political emancipation. Immediately after independence, he took all our steps in rebuilding the economy of the war-ravaged country. Keeping that in mind, the present government has been rendering untiring efforts in materializing the dream of Bangabandhu.
After a long struggle, Bangladesh is now moving toward development and prosperity. Besides the overall development, implementation of megaprojects such as Padma Bridge, the metro rail and the nuclear power plant are ongoing. With the launch of a Bangladeshi satellite, we have cemented our place in space. We are dreaming of a developed Bangladesh by the year 2041. Bangladesh is now being branded as a role model for outstanding success in socio-economic development.
In pursuing our diplomatic objectives, the government has been consistent in upholding the principle of “friendship to all, malice toward none,” as enunciated by Father of the Nation. Our achievement in the international arena is also commendable. Our expatriate Bangladeshis have been making significant contributions to our national economy by sending their hard-earned remittances. Nevertheless, we have to go a long way to achieve the desired goals of independence. We must ensure good governance, social justice, transparency and accountability to make development people-oriented and sustainable.
Democracy and development complement each other. Jatiya Sangsad and the government have started a new journey after the 11th parliamentary election. Collective initiative is necessary to implement the government’s development ideas and make Parliament meaningful. I hope Parliament will be the center of the people’s hopes and aspirations.
For this, the ruling party and the opposition will have to play a constructive role. The present government has set Vision 2021 and Vision 2041 to materialize Bangabandhu’s dream of transforming Bangladesh into “Sonar Bangla.” Sincere and collective efforts are imperative to implement the programs.
Imbued with the spirit of the war of liberation and democratic values, let us work together, irrespective of party affiliation, to make our heard-earned independence more meaningful. Let this be the pledge on Independence and National Day.
May Bangladesh live forever.
Prime Minister's Message: Realizing the dream of our nation’s father
Prime Minister of Bangladesh
I convey my heartiest greetings and congratulations to my countrymen as well as all expatriate Bangladeshis on the occasion of the great Independence and National Day of Bangladesh.
March 26 is the day of earning our nation’s identity. It is the day of breaking the shackles of subjugation. On the eve of Independence Day, I recall with deep gratitude the greatest Bangladeshi of all time, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, under whose undisputed leadership we earned our coveted independence. I pay my deep homage to the 3 million martyrs and 200,000 women who lost their honor in the war of liberation.
I also pay tribute to our four National Leaders who steered the war of liberation in the absence of Bangabandhu. My homage goes to the valiant freedom fighters, including the wounded ones. I extend my sympathies to those who lost their near and dear ones, and were subjected to brutal torture during the war. I recall with gratitude our foreign friend who had extended its wholehearted support and cooperation for the cause of our liberation.
The Bangladeshi nation fought against Pakistani rulers’ oppression and deprivation for 23 years under the leadership of Bangabandhu. They were compelled to hold general elections in 1970. The Bangladesh Awami League led by Bangabandhu won an overwhelming majority in the elections. But Pakistani rulers, instead of handing over power to the majority party in a democratic way, launched repressive measures against it.
Bangabandhu, in his March 7 historic address, declared: “The struggle of this time is for emancipation. The struggle for this time for our independence. Joi Bangla.” He instructed the Bangladeshi nation to resist the enemies.
The occupation forces unleashed a sudden attack and started killing innocent and unarmed Bangladeshis on the black night of March 25, 1971. They killed thousands of people in cities and towns, including Dhaka. Bangabandhu formally proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh at the first hour of March 26, 1971.
His proclamation was spread all over the country through telegrams, tele-printers and EPR wireless. The international media also circulated Bangabandhu’s proclamation of independence. Under his brave and dauntless leadership, we earned the ultimate victory on Dec. 16, 1971, after a nine-month bloody war.
Independence earned through the supreme sacrifices of millions of people is the greatest achievement of the Bangladeshi nation. To ensure that this achievement remains meaningful, all have to know the history of our great liberation war and retain the spirit of independence. The spirit of the liberation war has to be passed on from generation to generation.
Being imbued with the spirit of the freedom struggle, the Awami League government has relentlessly been working to develop the country. We have been accomplishing the unfinished work of the Father of the Nation. We have achieved expected development in every sector during the last 10 years. Bangladesh has become the role model of socioeconomic development in the world.
Our government is maintaining a zero-tolerance policy to tackle militancy, terrorism and the drug menace. For the first time in the world, we have formulated a 100-year plan named Delta Plan 2100. Bangladesh is one of the top five countries in the world in economic development. Ninety percent of development work is financed by our own resources.
We have executed the verdict of the trial of the killers of Bangabandhu, establishing the rule of law. The verdicts of the trials of the war criminals are also being executed. The trails of war criminals will continue as per our pledges to the nation. Due to the continuation of the Awami League government, the people are now getting the dividends of development. Bangladesh is moving forward, and will continue to do so. The next generation will get a prosperous Bangladesh.
The people made the Awami League victorious in the recent 11th parliamentary election. We will fully honor the huge mandate that the people of our country have given us. We will turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021, and a developed and prosperous one by 2041, InshaAllah.
Let us uphold the development and democratic spree being imbued with the spirit of the freedom struggle. Let us engage ourselves for the welfare of the country and nation. Let us build a happy and prosperous “Sonar Bangla,” free of hunger and poverty, as dreamt by the Father of the Nation. On this historic day, let this be our commitment.
Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu,
May Bangladesh live forever.
Establishing a prosperous, developed Bangladesh under dynamic leadership
Dr. A.K Abdul Momen
Foreign Minister of Bangladesh
On the occasion of March 26, the great Independence and National Day of Bangladesh, I extend my heartfelt greetings and warm felicitations to all Bangladeshis living both at home and abroad.
On this great historic day, I recall with profound reverence the greatest Bangladeshi of all time, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who proclaimed our country’s independence on March 26, 1971.
Under his visionary leadership, we achieved our long-cherished independence through a nine-month armed struggle.
With deep respect, I recall the supreme sacrifices made by our war heroes, the 3 million martyrs and the wounded freedom fighters.
I am also profoundly grateful to the people from all walks of life, especially members of our diaspora and the diplomatic front, who during and after our liberation war played a vital role in gaining international recognition.
I also acknowledge with deep gratitude the enormous contributions of our foreign friends in the emergence of an independent Bangladesh.
The charismatic leadership of the Father of the Nation united the whole nation like a solid rock under one umbrella. Bangabandhu was not only the leader of the Bangladeshis, but also a forerunner in realizing the rights of the oppressed and deprived people of the world. Bangabandhu, the great architect of our liberation war, dreamt of a happy, prosperous, exploitation-free and equitable “Sonar Bangla.”
His able successor and daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, aims to make Bangladesh a middle-income country by 2021, and a developed country by 2041. She hopes to realize Bangabandhu’s dream of “Sonar Bangla.”
Now Bangladesh is on a pathway to prosperity. Currently, it is marching forward with a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of more than 7.86 percent.
The number of working women has increased from 6 percent to 38 percent of the workforce.
The introduction of six-month leave, maternity allowances and free community clinics have contributed to lowering maternal mortality by 67 percent and infant deaths by 75 percent.
In recent years, the size of our national budget has grown about five and a half times. While Bangladesh is now recognized as a role model of development, it has been steadily achieving successes, earning many international awards and accolades. As a consequence, the UN recently announced Bangladesh’s eligibility for graduation to the status of “developing country” from “least developed country.”
With the successful launch of the Bangabandhu-1 satellite, the first Bangladeshi geostationary communication satellite, we have taken communication technology to new heights.
I congratulate the Bangladeshi diaspora in every corner of the world, which is contributing to the escalation of the image of Bangladesh.
I thank all the members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our missions abroad who have been working with deep commitment to uphold our national interest across nations.
On this historic day of independence, let us all vow to transform Bangladesh into a prosperous, technology-based, developed “Sonar Bangla.”
Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu.
May Bangladesh live forever.
Bangladesh in 2050: Aspirations, challenges and milestones
S.M. Anisul Haque
Law, justice and parliamentary affairs minister
Bangladesh has undergone a remarkable transformation in the 48 years since gaining independence — and disproved many predictions.
People dismissed the newborn country as an economic basket case, unable to survive on its own. Now, almost half a century later, Bangladesh has not just survived, it has made remarkable progress in ways that have eluded other nations.
It is forecast that Bangladesh will be the world’s 28th largest economy by 2030 and the 23rd largest by 2050.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers report predicted that our gross domestic product at purchasing power parity will grow to $1.324 billion in 2030 and to $3.064 billion by 2050, despite the challenges facing us.
It is also believed that transforming the huge population into assets is key to our aspiration for faster economic growth. The country’s plan to turn every village into a township will go a long way to ensure growth opportunities for every citizen, connecting them with the nation’s mainstream economic activities by 2050.
The government has also adopted a plan to address climate change vulnerability and risk factors, not only in the short term but for the next 100 years.
The government has undertaken a number of megaprojects to be implemented in the next 10 years to overcome infrastructure challenges, including a nuclear power plant, an elevated expressway, a deep sea port, and a metro railway in the capital.
These will transform existing infrastructure, while also contributing substantially to the national economy. A fast-growing manufacturing sector, thanks to the garment industry which is now second only to China’s, our economy has averaged above 6 percent annual growth for nearly a decade, reaching 7.5 percent last year.
This industry is a key factor in the country's success story. It is also the country's largest employer, providing about 4.5 million jobs and accounting for nearly 80 percent of our total merchandise exports in 2018. The industry has in recent years implemented reforms including factory upgrades, inspections, and improved worker conditions in order to maintain its competitive edge in the global market. It appears to be on track to meet the government goal of exporting $39 billion in 2019, and the country aspires to reach a $50 billion export valuation in this sector by the end of 2021 to mark the 50th anniversary of its independence.
Growth in agro-fisheries is also phenomenal. From acute food shortages in 1974, the country has achieved self-sufficiency in food production for its population of more than 170 million.
The country is now ranked third in the world in terms of freshwater fish production, and developments in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors have lifted people out of poverty. There used to be 19 percent of the population living in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day, and that figure is now less than 9 percent.
Pharmaceutical manufacturing is also on the rise, with locally produced goods exported to more than 100 countries. The nation has a waiver on drug patents until 2032 and, with favorable conditions, Bangladesh is hoping to challenge Asian giants in the pharmaceutical production field in the near future.
The government is implementing an ambitious scheme to build a network of 100 special economic zones (SEZs) around the country: 11 of them are complete and 79 are under construction.
It is expected that these SEZs will cater for the country’s needs in the decades to come. These areas should also be able to guarantee foreign direct investment inflows beyond 2050.
Bangladesh also has a huge working-age youth population that should reap economic dividends until 2052. If we are able to sustain the momentum of growth for the next 30 years, and utilize the population dividend effectively, our dream of attaining the status of a developed country by 2050 is well within reach.
The benefits of Saudi-Bangladeshi cooperation
Bangdladesh Ambassador to Riyadh
I pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of our heroes for their supreme sacrifices for the independence of our motherland. My deep respect goes to the 3 million martyrs, freedom fighters, elderly, women, children, and all those people who withstood suffering in the war of liberation in 1971.On this auspicious occasion of our National and Independence Day, I pay my deep respect to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the nation to achieve independence through a nine-month popular struggle. The greatest Bangladeshi of all time, Bangabandhu is truly the source of inspiration for our nation, and for millions of Bangladeshis living all over of the world.
I would also like to convey my heartfelt felicitations and warm greetings to the valued members of the Bangladeshi community living in the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Their hard work, contributions and invaluable support toward building our two economies are the strengthening blocks of the bonds and relationships that exist between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh.
My deep appreciation and gratitude goes to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Salman, and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who have extended support to the wellbeing of Bangladeshi expatriates employed in various sectors in Saudi Arabia. The extraordinary gestures and generosity of the Kingdom’s leadership and people toward the expatriate community in Saudi Arabia are always revered by the people and government of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has long maintained excellent relations with Saudi Arabia in the field of human resources, with growing engagements in trade and investment in recent years. Over these years, both countries have learned to identify potential areas of economic cooperation for mutual benefit.
The Vision 2030 reform plan, promoted by the Saudi government under the guidance of His Majesty the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and the transformational development of the Kingdom, offer Bangladesh new areas of engagement in the fields of education, agriculture, power and infrastructure.
At the same time, Bangladesh’s Vision 2021 plan to become a middle-income country, and its Vision 2041 plan to become an upper-middle-income country, warrants that Bangladesh engage in multisector cooperation with a major partner such as Saudi Arabia.
With growing engagements, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina undertook six official visits to Saudi Arabia in an effort to further strengthen bilateral relations. During these visits, she had meetings and an audience with His Majesty the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Royal Highness the crown prince, where the entire gamut of bilateral relations, as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest, were discussed.
Recent developments in Bangladesh, particularly in the areas of food security, housing, education and poverty reduction, were also discussed. The leaders commended the unprecedented momentum of bilateral relations in recent years, and emphasized further expansion of those ties through cooperation and engagements at different levels. They also reiterated their commitment to continued cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh as development partners.
To fulfil this commitment, exchanges of economic and investment-related delegations between the two countries, as well as utilizing opportunities for economic, cultural and defense cooperation, will play pivotal roles. It is a matter of great joy that exchanges of delegations have already commenced, resulting in both countries signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on defense cooperation on Feb. 14, 2019.
A high-level investment delegation from Saudi Arabia visited Bangladesh on March 7 and signed two agreements and four MoUs on investment cooperation. During this visit, both countries agreed to formulate a joint investment strategy and establish a ministerial-level joint working committee to oversee business and investment cooperation between the two countries. A joint business council will also be formed. Bangladesh gratefully acknowledges the kind gesture of the king and crown prince of Saudi Arabia for taking a personal interest in sending the ministerial-level investment delegation to Bangladesh in March.
Bangladesh also appreciates the great visionary roles played by King Salman and the crown prince for the development of the Muslim Ummah around the world and within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Bangladesh welcomes and actively participates in developing a peaceful Ummah devoid of extremist views. To that end, Bangladesh, like Saudi Arabia, maintains a zero-tolerance policy against violent extremism and terrorism.
In order to suppress extremism within Muslim society, both Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are willing to work together through sharing of information and experience. Both countries are determined to work to disseminate the real message of Islam worldwide so no one could benefit by misrepresenting the religion. It is expected that concerted initiatives will support efforts to establish a peaceful, progressive and harmonious world.
We gratefully recall Saudi support to Bangladesh regarding regional and international issues, including the Rohingya issue. Bangladesh is committed to standing by Saudi Arabia in all regional and international issues of importance to the Kingdom. Bangladesh is prepared to extend active military support to protect the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah as and when requested by the Kingdom.
Bangladesh has been playing an active role in building a peaceful world by contributing one of the largest number of troops to UN peacekeeping operations engaged in protecting and promoting the peaceful interests of all nations.
Bangladesh’s enlightened policy of highlighting the need for effective global cooperation on issues of strategic importance has made the country an important player in the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement, the OIC, the Commonwealth of Nations, and other international and regional organizations. Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia can work together for global peace and stability through the UN and the OIC.
Bangladesh assumed the chairmanship of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers from May 2018 to February 2019. During these 10 months, OIC countries met successfully at the annual coordination meeting in New York during the UN General Assembly (UNGA), and in an extraordinary summit on Palestine in 2018. Bangladesh’s leadership in New York resulted in the UNGA adopting emergency resolutions.
A number of ministerial meetings have also been hosted with tangible and verifiable outcomes, and quite a few meetings of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts have taken place. The New York chapter of the OIC, under Bangladesh’s chairmanship, agreed on some best practices and modes of work.
We hope to build on our productive engagements, both at the multilateral and bilateral levels, for a future of even closer cooperation and understanding between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. We would like to see the peoples of both countries going through a defining moment of heightened political and economic relationships, especially in the fields of trade, investment, education, health and manpower.
I would like to urge all members of the Bangladeshi community to contribute with their valuable experience and hard work to further accelerate the socioeconomic development of both Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh, and to further strengthen the excellent relationship between our two brotherly countries for mutual gains.
Let us all work together to fulfil the dream of Bangabandhu to make Bangladesh “Sonar Bangla,” a country of peace, prosperity and happiness under the dynamic leadership of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu.
Bangladesh achieving unimpeded and envious economic growth
F.M. Borhan Uddin
Consul General of Bangladesh in Jeddah
I express my happiness to celebrate the 48th anniversary of the Independence and National Day of Bangladesh.
On this auspicious day, I recall with profound respect the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the architect of our nation. I pay special tribute to the memories of the martyrs of the liberation war, as well as to the valiant freedom fighters, whose supreme sacrifices made us free. On this wonderful occasion, I extend my sincere felicitations to the brotherly people and government of Saudi Arabia, to our friends, well-wishers and Bangladeshi expatriates living in the Kingdom.
The government of Bangladesh, under the dynamic and prudent leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has been achieving unimpeded and envious economic growth. Bangladesh will transform into a middle-income country with the implementation of Vision 2021, declared by the prime minister, and is expected to turn into a developed nation through Vision 2041. After tremendous success in achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, Bangladesh is moving forward in pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Bangladesh has been able to maintain steady growth of around 6.5 percent in the last decade, and looks forward to achieving more than 7 percent in the coming years. Bangladesh has been identified as one of the Next 11 countries, which Goldman Sachs investment bank says will probably become some of the world’s largest economies in the 21st century.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bangladesh will be one of the top 30 countries by 2030 in terms of real gross domestic product (GDP) size. Bangladesh will be the 23rd-largest economy in the world by 2050. Bangladesh is one of the fastest-growing economies in South Asia.
In its recent study, Global Economic Views highlighted Bangladesh as a profitable investment destination for the next five, 10, 20 and 40 years. Emerging sectors of Bangladesh include garments, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, ceramics, jute and jute products, agriculture and processed foods. As one of the largest Muslim-majority countries, Bangladesh enjoys excellent bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia based on common Islamic values, traditions, faith, culture and mutual respect.
Over the years, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh have played a responsible and contributory role as members of international organizations, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the UN. We attach great importance to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its cooperation with Bangladesh as a valued development partner, particularly through the generous hosting of a significant number of Bangladeshi expatriates.
On this memorable day, I take the opportunity to extend my sincere thanks and gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, and to Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. I wish to acknowledge the valuable contribution of the Bangladeshi expatriate community in the economic development of both Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh, as well as in the consolidation of relations between the two brotherly countries. I wish them all continued peace, prosperity and happiness.