Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)
Special Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)
Special Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)
Special Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)
Special Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)
Special Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bangkok. (Twitter: @spagov)
Special Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bangkok. (Twitter: @spagov)
Special Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on the sidelines of APEC summit in Bangkok. (Twitter: @spagov)
Special Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on the sidelines of APEC summit in Bangkok. (Twitter: @spagov)
Special Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on the sidelines of APEC summit in Bangkok. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with French president Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Thailand. (Twitter: @spagov)
Special Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with French president Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Thailand. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with French president Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Thailand. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Indonesian president Joko Widodo on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Thailand. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Thailand. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Updated 19 November 2022

Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms

Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit expected to give a boost to trade, investment and economic cooperation
  • Bilateral ties improving by leaps and bounds since resumption of Saudi-Thai diplomatic relations earlier this year

RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s official visit to Thailand, participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and meetings with several Asian heads of government are the latest highlights of a successful tour of Asia.

Friday’s engagements in Bangkok came after an official visit by the crown prince to Seoul for meetings with the South Korean leadership and signing of economic deals. He also attended the two-day G20 leaders’ summit in Bali, Indonesia.

The crown prince’s arrival in the Thai capital on Thursday represented a symbolic turning of the page in Saudi-Thai relations and followed the resumption of diplomatic ties in January.

He was invited by Thailand to join the APEC forum as a guest of honor despite Saudi Arabia not being a member of the group, an indication of Thailand’s desire to enhance cooperation, trade and investment to serve both kingdoms.

Leaders and representatives from 21 economies on both sides of the Pacific Ocean were expected to discuss how to maintain stability during the challenges of climate change and the growing political and economic fallout of the war in Ukraine.




Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives in Thailand on an official visit, where he was received by the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of Thailand. (SPA)

The summit began with an appeal by the host Thailand for member states to work together to attain sustainable growth and development.

The crown prince and APEC leaders discussed sustainable trade and investment in an informal dialogue session. He also held talks with national leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah.

Abdurrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Suhaibani, the Saudi ambassador to Thailand, told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that the crown prince’s visit came after an invitation from Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and followed a landmark visit he made to Saudi Arabia in January.

Al-Suhaibani said the significance of the visit was evident given it coincided with the APEC forum, involving the participation of 23 countries. He said it was aimed at strengthening cooperation and partnership between the two countries and would help boost relations and trade.

He added that the exploration of areas of investment opportunities was necessary in light of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan and the development priorities of Thailand, which include the policy of a circular, green economy.

The two countries were also looking for cooperation in renewable energy, the environment, digital transformation and cybersecurity, Al-Suhaibani said.




Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greets Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as he arrives in Riyadh on an official visit in January 2022. (SPA)

The ambassador said that the visit was “an extension of the Kingdom’s efforts in serving Islam and Muslims all over the world. The Kingdom’s government has paid attention to the Muslims of Thailand and takes care of them in cooperation and coordination with the Thai government.”

After Prayuth’s visit to the Kingdom, ambassadors were appointed to their respective capitals and agreements on tourism, labor, energy and food security were signed. The first commercial flight from Riyadh to Bangkok arrived on Feb. 28.

A memorandum of understanding on Thai workers taking jobs in Saudi Arabia was signed in March. In May, Khalid Al-Falih, the Saudi minister of investment, and Don Pramudwinai, Thailand’s foreign minister, jointly hosted the Saudi-Thai Investment Forum.

By August, Saudi arrivals in the Southeast Asian country had risen to 35,000. Thailand hopes to attract up to 300,000 Saudi visitors by the end of the year.

In September, a memorandum of understanding was signed to create the Thai-Saudi Business Council, marking a significant step toward cementing trade ties and potentially giving Thailand access to the wider Gulf Cooperation Council market.

Trade relations have been steadily developing. Saudi Aramco has an agreement to sell 166,000 barrels per day of crude oil to the Thai company PTT Public. The firm has now proposed to increase the quantities and duration of the deliveries.

The Saudi firm SABIC has a factory in Thailand that produces specialized materials such as NORYL plastics. The company sells around 1.3 million tons of petrochemical products and fertilizers in Thailand a year and employs 83 people in its regional office in Bangkok.

The volume of the Kingdom's exports to Thailand amounted to $4 billion during 2020, while the volume of Thailand's exports to the Kingdom amounted to $1.65 billion in the same year, according to Saudi government sources.

The volume of trade exchange between Saudi Arabia and Thailand in the past five years amounted to $34.65 billion, according to SPA.

The Kingdom's non-oil exports to Thailand exceeded SR2 billion during the year 2020, with mineral, chemical and aluminum products topping the list of the most important exported commodities. Cars and their parts, machinery, wood and its products were among most prominent imported commodities.

The two countries are seeking cooperation in agriculture through and trade in basic crops such as rice and halal items.

Saudi Arabia is eager to export dates to Thailand and to enhance cooperation in Thai fish and poultry farming.

THENUMBER

*$34.65bn - Volume of KSA-Thailand trade in the past 5 years.

The Kingdom maintained its support for Thailand’s Muslims even before the resumption of diplomatic relations this year. 

Saudi Arabia provided humanitarian assistance after the 2004 tsunami, including $30 million in donations and 75 tons of relief.

In May 2019, Saudi Arabia extended support to Thai Muslims through scholarships and financial support, and, in April of last year distributed food to around 35,000 people during Ramadan.




Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)

In August, the Islamic Center in Bangkok opened an exhibition of Saudi culture and heritage, which was organized by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

Saudi Arabia first established diplomatic relations with Thailand in 1957. The two kingdoms enjoyed good relations that were strengthened with official visits.

In March 1966, the Kingdom raised the level of diplomatic representation in Thailand from a consulate to an embassy. Thailand opened its embassy in Riyadh in 1984 while keeping its consulate in Jeddah.

Relations between the two countries developed and continued in all political, economic, trade and tourism fields until 1990.

During his visit to Riyadh in January, Prayuth said Thailand attached utmost importance to friendship with Saudi Arabia, and was keen to end all outstanding issues.

He expressed his sincere regret over the tragic events that occurred in Thailand in 1989 and 1990, and said that the Thai government had made great efforts to resolve previous issues.

Thailand also stressed its commitment to the protection of Saudi diplomats in Thailand, in accordance with the Vienna Convention, and said it would raise previous issues with the competent authorities if new evidence surfaced.


Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister discusses strengthening relations with Iraq 

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister discusses strengthening relations with Iraq 
Updated 9 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister discusses strengthening relations with Iraq 

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister discusses strengthening relations with Iraq 
  • Al-Saud highlighted the depth of relations with Iraq

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, affirmed on Thursday that economic relations with Iraq were developing significantly. 

Al-Saud made the statement during a press conference held in Iraq with the country’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein. 

Hussein said ‘security cooperation continues with Saudi Arabia’ and added they were ‘working to reduce tensions in the region.’ 

Al-Saud also highlighted the depth of relations with Iraq, which he stated had ‘witnessed great momentum recently.’ 

“We support the Iraqi government’s effort to enhance stability,” he said. 

Al-Saud added that stability was crucial in order for opportunities for prosperity to rise.


KSRelief delivers relief aid to Pakistan, Yemen, Niger, Afghanistan and Jordan

KSRelief delivers relief aid to Pakistan, Yemen, Niger, Afghanistan and Jordan
Updated 02 February 2023

KSRelief delivers relief aid to Pakistan, Yemen, Niger, Afghanistan and Jordan

KSRelief delivers relief aid to Pakistan, Yemen, Niger, Afghanistan and Jordan
  • A shipment delivered by KSRelief containing 500 food packages benefited 500 families in Niger
  • Syrian refugee children in eight Jordanian governorates received school bags

DUBAI: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) distributed 350 food packages to those affected by the floods in Pakistan’s Sindh province. 

The relief center’s delivery benefited 2,450 individuals on Tuesday, state agency SPA reported. 

It also distributed 42 tons and 372 kilograms of food items in Yemen’s Marib, benefiting 132 families and 924 individuals in the area. 

Similarly, a shipment delivered by KSRelief containing 500 food packages benefited 500 families in Niger, while 400 food packages were sent to Afghanistan, benefiting 2,400 individuals in-need. 

Meanwhile, Syrian refugee children in eight Jordanian governorates received school bags from KSRelief in cooperation with the Jordan Hashemite Charity. 

The aim was to provide 29,881 male and female students with basic educational supplies.


Saudi crown prince, French FM discuss bilateral relations

Saudi crown prince, French FM discuss bilateral relations
Updated 02 February 2023

Saudi crown prince, French FM discuss bilateral relations

Saudi crown prince, French FM discuss bilateral relations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received on Thursday Catherine Colonna, French minister for Europe and foreign affairs, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The meeting discussed ways to enhance bilateral relations in all fields, in addition to the latest regional and international developments.

Saudi and French senior officials attended the meeting.

Colonna arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday on an official visit to the Kingdom.

French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday. (Twitter/@KSAMOFA)

Upon her arrival at King Khalid International Airport, she was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.

Colonna’s visit is expected to focus on ways to enhance the distinguished cooperation between the Kingdom and France, the ministry added.


Saudi foreign minister reviews relations with OIC chief, Cypriot and Kyrgyz counterparts

Saudi foreign minister reviews relations with OIC chief, Cypriot and Kyrgyz counterparts
Updated 02 February 2023

Saudi foreign minister reviews relations with OIC chief, Cypriot and Kyrgyz counterparts

Saudi foreign minister reviews relations with OIC chief, Cypriot and Kyrgyz counterparts

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Hissein Brahim Taha, the ministry said on Wednesday. 
During the call, they reviewed aspects of cooperation between the Kingdom and the OIC in various fields, in addition to discussing the most prominent regional and international developments.
Prince Faisal also received separate calls from his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides and his Kyrgyz counterpart Zheenbek Kulubaev, the ministry said.
During the calls, they reviewed bilateral relations, and ways to enhance and develop them in various fields of cooperation and joint coordination, and discussed aspects of enhancing joint action toward various regional and international issues.


Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes

Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes
Updated 02 February 2023

Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes

Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes
  • In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Rakan Al-Oraifi explains the appeal and cultural significance of jareesh and maqshush
  • They were recently named by the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Culinary Arts Commission as the Kingdom’s national dish and dessert

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Culinary Arts Commission announced this month that jareesh has been selected as the national dish of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and maqshush as its national dessert.

Jareesh is a slow-cooked dish of cracked wheat, vegetables and a sauce, with the optional addition of lamb. Maqshush is made of buckwheat bites topped with some combination of ghee, honey, dates, molasses and sugar.

The commission’s announcement forms part of its National and Regional Dishes Narratives initiative, which seeks to identify and celebrate popular dishes that are part of the Kingdom’s culinary culture. It will include research to discover which dishes best represent each region, the results of which are due to be announced later in the year.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Rakan Al-Oraifi, an internationally renowned Saudi executive chef, welcomed the initiative, which he said will showcase traditional dishes and ensure they are at the forefront of the Saudi Culinary scene.

Al-Oraifi, who is a member of the World Master Chefs Society and the founder of Kit Catering, said that jareesh originated in the central Najd region and there is more than one variety.

“Usually, we cook it with laban (buttermilk), so it is known as white jareesh,” he said. “We also have a second kind of jareesh, which is from Hail (in north-western Saudi Arabia), and it is red because we cook it with tomato sauce.”

The distinctive flavors of the dish come from its topping of ghee, caramelized onions and lemon powder, he added.

The selection of jareesh as national dish reflects its popularity across Saudi society, the Culinary Arts Commission said, and references to it can be found in heritage books dating back centuries. It is considered one of the most important dishes in Saudi heritage and is known as “master of dishes,” it added.

Al-Oraifi said that the main reason jareesh is so popular is because people in the Najd region historically ate wheat rather than rice because it required fewer resources.

“Jareesh is a traditional dish everyone likes, young and the old,” he said. “The dish is filled with different flavors; it is kind of salty, a little bit sour because of the buttermilk, and you can eat it during winter or summer.”

According to the commission, the dish is typically served on a variety of occasions, mainly happy ones, and though it originated in the central region it spread throughout the Kingdom.

Maqshush, meanwhile is a dessert typically served as breakfast in Saudi households, and comprises wheat flour, ghee and honey or sugar. It is particularly popular during the winter. According to the commission, the history of the dish dates back more than a century and it is commonly served with Saudi coffee.

Al-Oraifi — who is also a member of the World Association of Master Chefs, the Emirates Culinary Guild, Latin American gastronomic association Aregala International, and the Saudi Arabian Chef Association — is pleased that the dessert, which originated in Hail, is being recognized.

“Maqshush also is made from wheat,” he said. “We mix two kinds of flower in Maqshush: white and brown.”

He added that it is a popular breakfast dish because the wheat, ghee and honey provide energy and power.

In addition to their widespread popularity, the authenticity of their flavors, and their significance in Saudi culture, jareesh and maqshush were chosen as national dishes because they are simple to prepare using ingredients that are readily available, the commission said.

According to “Saveurs d’Arabie” (“Flavors of Arabia”), a cookbook published recently by the commission and Cassi Edition, maqshush might be considered a combination of pancakes and bread because of its taste and texture. It’s small, soft loaves are simple to make and were traditionally baked on a saj, a convex metal pan.

According to the book, the word maqshush means one who picks the smallest portion or pieces of food, which is thought to reflect the fact the dish is prepared from simple, inexpensive ingredients.

Al-Oraifi has been crowned the best chef in Saudi Arabia three times. In 2021, he was awarded first place in the culinary category at the National Cultural Awards. He was the executive chef of Suhail restaurant in Riyadh and AlUla, for which he created a unique, authentic menu.

He joined Al-Khozama group as Executive Chef in 2022 to create a contemporary Saudi menu for Maiz restaurant in Diriyah, and recently moved to Paris for the advanced study of French pastry.

Decoder

Jareesh and maqshush

Jareesh, a popular dish that originated from Saudi Arabia's central Najd region, has been designated as national dish of the Kingdom by the Ministry of Culture’s Culinary Arts Commission. It is a slow-cooked dish of cracked wheat, vegetables and a sauce, with the optional addition of lamb. Maqshush, made of buckwheat bites topped with some combination of ghee, honey, dates, molasses and sugar, is the national dessert.