Indonesians celebrate Saudi National Day, hope for stronger bilateral ties

1 / 3
Indonesian actor Dude Herlino and his actress wife Alyssa Soebandono posed for a photo during a reception to celebrate Saudi National Day in Jakarta. (AN photo by Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata)
2 / 3
Indonesia's Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Saifuddin and Saudi Arabia Ambassador to Indonesia Esam Abid Althagafi at the reception to celebrate the Saudi National Day in Jakarta. (AN photo by Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata)
3 / 3
Indonesian actor Dude Herlino and his actress wife Alyssa Soebandono posed with staff from Saudia airlines for a photo during a reception to celebrate Saudi National Day in Jakarta. (AN photo by Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata)
Updated 24 September 2019

Indonesians celebrate Saudi National Day, hope for stronger bilateral ties

  • Saudi Arabia is still one of the major sources of foreign tourists to Indonesia

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Saifuddin extended on Monday the best wishes to Saudi Arabia on the occasion of the Kingdom’s National Day and expressed hope for stronger ties between the two countries.

“On behalf of the Indonesian government, we rejoiced in this celebration and prayed that the Kingdom and the people of Saudi Arabia are always blessed and under God’s protection,” Saifuddin told journalists during a reception at a hotel in Jakarta held by the Saudi Embassy.

The minister, who was the guest of honor at the reception, said the two countries have ties that Islamic scholars cemented centuries ago and that they remain the same today.

Saudi Arabia is still one of the major sources of foreign tourists to Indonesia, and the biggest from the Middle East, with 165,852 Saudis visiting Indonesia in 2018.

“We hope to see more of our brothers and sisters from Saudi Arabia visiting Indonesia in the coming years,” Saifuddin said.

Trade between the two countries increased from $4.5 billion (SR16.8 billion) in 2017 to $6.13 billion in 2018. Saudi Arabia is one of Indonesia’s most important partners in the investment sector, with investment value increasing from $3.5 million in 2017 to $5.36 million last year. 

“The government of Indonesia wishes to cooperate more to ensure intensification of Saudi direct investments in the country,” Saifuddin said.

Saudi Ambassador Esam Abid Althagafi said that the Kingdom continues development in all sectors in line with the 2030 Vision reform plans, which has shown significant results among developing countries.

Indonesian actor Dude Herlino and his actress wife Alyssa Soebandono were also among the guests attending the reception. Herlino was one of the guests invited by the Saudi Ministry of Media to perform Hajj this year.

He told Arab News that it was a memorable experience and he was grateful for the privilege.

“I was extended the best service, including the opportunity for a helicopter ride above Makkah,” Herlino said.

“We would like to congratulate the Kingdom for its national day celebration and I hope that Indonesia and Saudi Arabia’s bilateral relations will remain strong,” he added.


World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

Updated 24 January 2020

World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

  • Economist and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee will attend the event

JAIPUR: The 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) started on Thursday.

Known as the “greatest literary show on earth,” the five-day event brings to one venue more than 500 speakers of 15 Indian and 35 foreign languages, and over 30 nationalities.

Among the festival’s participants are Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

The event has been expanding, with over 400,000 people attending it last year and even more expected to show up this time.  The growing crowd has made the medieval Diggi Palace, which hosts it, look small, and organizers are planning to shift the event to a bigger venue next year.

Scottish historian and writer William Dalrymple, one of the organizers, said: “The first time we came to the Diggi Palace in 2007, 16 people turned up for the session of which 10 were Japanese tourists who walked out after 10 minutes, as they had come to the wrong place. Things have improved a little since then. We are now formally the largest literature festival in the world.”

Dalrymple, who has extensively written on medieval India and South Asia, has played a pivotal role in promoting the festival.

The other two organizers are its director, Sanjoy K. Roy, and writer Namita Gokhale, who along with Dalrymple made the JLF become one of the most sought-after events in India.

“Why has the literary festival taken off in this country in this extraordinary way? It goes back to the tradition of spoken literature, the celebration of literature orally through the spoken word has deep roots in this country,” Dalrymple said.

“So the idea that a literary festival is a foreign import is something that can’t be maintained. We’ve tapped into something very deep here. Literature is alive and is loved in India,” he said.

Inaugurating the festival’s 13th edition, celebrated British mathematician Marcus du Sautoy said: “Every number has its own particular character in the story of mathematics. For me it is 13; 13 is a prime number, an indivisible number, and the JLF is certainly a festival in its prime.”

The festival this year is taking place amid a raging debate about India’s new citizenship legislation and mass agitation on the issue of preserving the secular fabric of the nation.

Reflecting on the prevailing mood in the country, Roy, in his opening remarks, said: “We are now faced with a situation where we see a spread of the narrative of hatred. Literature is the one thing that can push back against it and so can be the arts. All of us have a responsibility to do so and this is not the time to be silent anymore.”

Gokhale said: “Ever since its inception 13 years ago, we at the Jaipur Literary Festival have tried to give a voice to our plural and multilingual culture. We live in a nation which is defined by its diversity, and it is our effort to present a range of perspectives, opinions, and points of view, which together build up a cross-section of current thinking.”

She added: “We seek mutual respect and understanding in our panels — it is important to us that these often conflicting ideas are respectfully presented and heard. We also resist predictable and self-important all-male panels, and try to ensure that the vital voices of women resonate through all aspects of our programming.”

One of the attractions of the event this year is the presence of Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, who won the prize in economics last year.

There are also panel discussions on Kashmir, the Indian constitution and history.

The prevailing political situation in South Asia is also reflected by the absence of Pakistani. Before, popular Pakistani authors would attend the JLF, but delays in visa issuance and a hostile domestic environment forced the organizers to “desist from extending invitations.”