JAKARTA: Indonesia is setting its sights on pilgrims in Saudi Arabia for its creative economy products, a minister told Arab News, as Jakarta sought to make the sector its main source of exports.
Indonesia’s creative economy, led by fashion, crafts, and culinary products, contributed around 7.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2022, when its export value for the first time exceeded $25 billion.
The country wants to become a regional creative and digital economy hub under its Vision 2045 plan and make them its key export products. The sector has been growing steadily over the years and has been important in helping Indonesia bounce back after the coronavirus pandemic.
Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Uno said: “The driving force behind economic revival and job creation has been the creative economy.”
As millions of Muslims from around the world visit Saudi Arabia for Umrah and Hajj every year, Uno pointed out that pilgrims were a potential market for Indonesian creative economy products.
During a meeting with Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, in November, Uno discussed Indonesia’s opportunity to “enter the ecosystem and provide many beneficial programs to improve the quality and experience for pilgrims.”
The minister noted that Indonesian pilgrims themselves could help promote their goods and small- and medium-sized enterprises.
“The pilgrims could also be good promotional ambassadors when they wear Indonesian products,” he said, adding that there was substantial “growth opportunity for the two countries” as they could bank on a high purchasing power and strong consumer demand in the Middle East in general.
The world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia will send around 229,000 Hajj pilgrims to the Kingdom this year, while another 3 million are expected to travel for Umrah.
“This is a good way that we promote Indonesian SME products that could set up base in Saudi Arabia to create economic benefits,” Uno said.
“All the important goods and services including handicrafts, textiles, furniture, food and beverages, and creative products have potential to attract customers.”