Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is on an official five day visit to Saudi Arabia since taking office as the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia scheduled to an audience with King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Naif Al-Saud and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud.
The visit would provide an excellent opportunity for the leaders of Malaysia and Saudi Arabia to discuss various issues of mutual interest particularly in the area of security cooperation.
Since the Independence, Malaysia has had a generally positive and productive relationship with Saudi Arabia that is rooted in a centuries-long history of commercial and religious interactions. In the contemporary period, proactive Malaysian diplomacy has paved the way for a more balanced and multidimensional partnership between the two countries, particularly in the economic spectrum.
Saudi Arabia being the single largest market for food and beverages in the Gulf region, accounting for 63% of all of the region’s imports with the value of the Saudi halal food estimated at US$ 6 billion annually, it is timely for Malaysian companies to strike business partnerships with their counterparts.
Bilateral trade relations between Malaysia and the Kingdom had increased significantly from US$260 million in 1990 to US$4.019 billion in 2014 (in span of 24 years). Globally, Saudi Arabia was Malaysia’s 19th largest trading partner, 23th largest export destination and 17th largest import source.
Though Malaysia and Saudi Arabia differs in terms of how Islam is interpreted and practiced. Nonetheless, at no point have these differences seriously disrupted the relationship. Nor in recent years have they hampered its development or placed at risk its promising future.
The term “Islamophobia” trumpeted of the prejudice, hatred, or bigotry directed against Islam or Muslims behind the backgrounds movements of Shiites and the Sunni has great impact upon Saudi Arabia. The deviance promoting terrorism under the clout of Islamic state known as Daesh, where splinters of the radicals began pouring into the Southeast Asia region. This poses a security threat to both government and drastic measures to counter them.
When the dust settled, continual similar efforts to strengthen bilateral trade and security relationship between Malaysia with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enhances the networking platform expanded particularly in the trade activities will benefit both countries.