This year is a very significant year in the history of Bangladesh, as the nation celebrates the golden jubilee of its independence.
The joy of this occasion is manifold because we have also been celebrating the centenary of the birth of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The greatest Bengali of all time, he dreamed of an independent Bangladesh and fulfilled this dream through his lifelong struggle, uncompromising leadership, unlimited sacrifice and valiant command, earning a glorious victory in our nine month-long War of Independence.
On this auspicious occasion of the 50th National Day of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, I convey my heartfelt congratulations and warm greetings to the respected members of the Bangladeshi community in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
At this momentous time I also pay tribute to all the valiant freedom fighters for the supreme sacrifices they made to secure the independence of our motherland. My deepest respect goes to the martyrs of the Liberation War and to all the millions of people who withstood the suffering it caused.
I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, and the crown prince, His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman, for their able leadership and contribution to Muslim ummah, and their visionary guidance to realize the aims of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
Bangladesh has enjoyed warm bilateral relations with the Kingdom since the diplomatic ties were established in 1975. The excellent relationship between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia may be attributed to the fact that both countries share common perspectives, values and commitments.
Our honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina undertook five official visits to the Kingdom between June 2016 and May 2019. These visits added a new dimension of our bilateral relations. During meetings with our prime minister in 2016 and 2018, King Salman described Bangladesh as a “top Islamic country” in terms of the relationship between the two nations.
We hope to enhance our relationship based on the achievements of recent productive engagements, to set up a future that includes even closer cooperation and understanding between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, at the bilateral and multilateral levels.
In the coming days we would like to see the peoples of both countries herald a defining moment that raises the relationship between the two brotherly countries to new heights, particularly in the areas of trade, investment, education, health and manpower.
For several decades, Bangladesh has been meeting the need for workers in several sectors of the Saudi labor market. Members of the Bangladeshi migrant community have established their long-term credentials, and their work is greatly appreciated by the Saudi people. They have also played a part in contemporary Saudi economic growth, and Bangladesh stands ready to contribute to the efforts to realize the economic objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.
Bangladesh offers a winning combination of a competitive marketplace, a business-friendly environment and competitive cost structure that can provide excellent returns on investment. It is an ideal destination for Saudi entrepreneurs as it has a very dynamic, young, talented, predominantly (more than 90 percent) Muslim population, and offers attractive incentives.
Potential investors can explore the enormous potential of investment opportunities in a number of sectors in Bangladesh, such as the tourism industry, information technology, shipbuilding and pharmaceuticals.
Bangladesh is also a role model for the developing world in terms of poverty reduction. It has achieved successes in developing its health and education sectors, and received accolades from the UN for its efforts in fighting climate change.
The country has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with annual growth reaching more than 7 percent in the past decade. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, our economic growth was 5.2 percent, which is the highest in Asia. We are also self-reliant in food production.
On Feb. 26 this year, Bangladesh received final approval from the UN to graduate from the category of least developed country (LDC), after fulfilling all three of the required criteria. Now the country aims to become a prosperous nation by 2041, and has been implementing its 100-year Delta 2100 plan under the visionary leadership of Sheikh Hasina.
Bangladesh was one of the most successful countries in meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, eight international goals for the year 2015 that were set in 2000, and is now working hard to meet the targets of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, 15 goals that were set in 2015 with the aim of achieving them by 2030. Through all these ambitious economic visions and targets, Bangladesh intends to realize our father of the nation’s dream of a “Golden Bengal.”
Bangladesh is a peace-loving country. Its foreign policy is founded on the concept of “friendship to all, malice to none,” as set by the father of our nation. Bangladesh is the leading provider of troops for UN peacekeeping operations around the world, and plays active role in peace-building efforts in war-torn countries for the protection and promotion of the interests of all nations.
We resolved a maritime boundary dispute with our neighbors, India and Myanmar, peacefully. We also settled a decades-old land border dispute with India through dialogue.
In an epic example of humanity, Bangladesh has provided shelter for 1.2 million Rohingya refugees who fled atrocities in neighboring Myanmar. In addition, we have employed all diplomatic means in an effort to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in that country.
Bangladesh maintains a “zero tolerance” policy toward the menace of terrorism and violent extremism in its all forms and manifestations.
Our nation has advanced fast and will continue on its journey to fulfill the dream of our father of the nation for a “Golden Bengal.” I would urge the respected members of our community who live in Saudi Arabia to redouble their efforts and play their part in realizing that dream.
We should embrace the very essence of our liberation war and pass on those values to the generations of Bangladeshis to come.
Let us take this oath on this unique occasion of the golden jubilee of our independence, and the centenary of the birth of the father of our nation.
Joi Bangla. Joi Bangabandhu!
Long live the Bangladesh-Saudi Arabia relationship.
Dr. Mohammad Javed Patwary
Ambassador of Bangladesh