Muhyiddin to Begin Official Visit to Saudi Arabia, UAE Tomorrow

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will begin his first official visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from tomorrow (Saturday) to March 11.

The Foreign Ministry, in a statement today, said the prime minister’s five-day visit to Saudi Arabia (March 6 – 9) is at the invitation of King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud which was extended in April last year.

Muhyiddin will be the first foreign head of government to be invited by King Salman to undertake an official visit to Saudi Arabia following the historic Al Ula Conference on Jan 5.

Wisma Putra said Malaysia’s bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia encompassed a broad spectrum of cooperation including trade, investment, Islamic affairs, education and people-to-people linkages, with both countries striving towards elevating the existing ties to a more comprehensive and strategic level.

The visit, said the ministry, will not only provide an opportunity for both countries to strengthen traditional areas of cooperation, but also forge greater partnership in new areas, such as new technology and innovation, as well as energy collaboration.

“The ongoing reorientation of the Saudi economy, driven by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, has significantly expanded the scope of opportunities for Malaysia-Saudi cooperation,” it said.

It said Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are expected to discuss efforts to further strengthen existing bilateral ties and explore new areas of cooperation with the view to elevating the partnership to a more strategic level.

“These include the proposal to establish a High-Level Strategic Committee (HLSC) at the Foreign Ministers level, which will serve as an overarching bilateral platform for consultations.

“The HLSC is set to pave the way for regular consultations between Malaysia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in multiple sectors, such as and international political security issues, post-Covid-19 economic recovery, haj and umrah matters, food security and palm oil trade.”

Both countries also hope to forge greater collaboration in the field of science and technology which will serve the economic and strategic interests of both countries.

“This includes the proposal to establish the Malaysia-Saudi Tech Innovation Centre which will provide a platform to encourage collaboration between both countries in the development of smart cities, artificial intelligence and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0).”

Thirdly, the visit is also hoped to strengthen cooperation in haj and umrah with the formalisation of the ‘Mecca Road Service’ initiative, which will ease and simplify pre-clearance process for Malaysian haj and umrah pilgrims, such as airport arrangements, visa and passport checking, customs procedures and other logistical arrangements.

This will include matters regarding the official haj quota, as well as haj and umrah procedures for Malaysian pilgrims.

Other matters include enhancement of bilateral trade and investment, including in oil and gas, as well as renewable energy sectors, including future collaboration in new technologies such as hydrogen, wind energy and carbon capture.

Another area that will be given focus is on strengthening collaborative efforts and responses in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, including identifying its impacts on the socio-economy of both countries.

“Saudi Arabia was the largest contributor of Covid-19 related medical equipment to Malaysia during the early stages of the pandemic,” said the ministry.

Other matters that will be addressed at the meeting include exploring new markets for palm oil exports to Saudi Arabia, as well as the Middle East and African regions; strengthening cooperation in the halal industry, including collaboration between halal certification bodies of the two countries; and exchanging views on regional and international issues of common concern, particularly on the peaceful resolution of disputes within the region.

Meanwhile, Muhyiddin’s visit to the UAE (March 9 to 11) reflects the close, strong and strategic partnership between Malaysia and the UAE in all areas of mutual interest, said the ministry.

“It is also set to boost further efforts towards increasing trade and economic cooperation with the UAE, which is currently Malaysia’s largest trading partner in the Middle East.

“The UAE’s status as an international trade and financial hub makes it an important partner for Malaysia to access new markets. Malaysia, on the other hand, is a critical gateway for UAE products and services in Southeast Asia.”

Muhyiddin’s visit is hoped to serve as a catalyst for resilience and growth for the countries, particularly in the areas of trade and investment, agriculture and food security, health and diplomatic exchanges.

“Malaysia and the UAE will discuss efforts to further strengthen the existing bilateral ties and explore new areas of cooperation with the view to elevating the partnership to greater heights,” it said.

These include proposals to enhance bilateral cooperation in addressing current and future challenges in the post-pandemic recovery phase through technology, innovation and economic partnership, it said.

The establishment of an International Food Security Coalition (IFSC) is another area that will be discussed, said the ministry, with the primary objective of building greater resilience and robustness in the global food supply chains.

“As an initial step towards materializing the IFSC, both sides will sign the Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the Food Diplomacy Cooperation between Malaysia and the UAE,” it said.

By strengthening cooperation in the oil and gas industry, this will include greater collaboration between the industry players from Malaysia and the UAE on existing business activities, as well as potential opportunities in both upstream and downstream sectors.

Other matters that will be discussed include the establishment of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Chair at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia (ISIS).

“The Chair is set to promote greater understanding and contact between the two countries while promoting the ideals of good governance, environmental responsibility and interfaith tolerance, espoused by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” it said.

Other matters include strengthening cooperation in the halal industry including collaboration between halal certification bodies of the two countries; and exchanging views on regional and international issues of common concern, particularly on the peaceful resolution of disputes within the region.

In Saudi Arabia, Muhyiddin will perform the umrah in Makkah, followed by ziarah (visits) of Madinah from March 6 to 8 at the invitation of King Salman, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

Muhyiddin’s official programme will take place at Al-Yamamah Palace, Riyadh on March 9.

This will include an official welcoming ceremony by having a virtual audience with King Salman, a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is also Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, a signing ceremony of Memoranda of Understanding, as well an official luncheon.

In the UAE, the official programme will take place in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on March 10. This will include meetings with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; and UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Muhyiddin’s visit to both countries, accompanied by a small delegation comprising Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, and senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will adhere strict standard operating procedures (SOP) as agreed by Malaysia’s Health Ministry (MOH) and National Security Council (NSC); and by the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia and the Ministry of Health and Prevention of the UAE.

Among others, the Malaysian delegation is required to provide negative PCR test results 120 hours (5 days), and 24 hours (1 day) before the official meetings in Saudi Arabia.

“The delegation will also be travelling by a special aircraft instead of commercial arrangements in order to create a travel bubble to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Following which, the Malaysian delegation is required to provide negative PCR test results 48 hours (2 days) prior to their arrival in the UAE.

“Upon arrival in the UAE, the Malaysian delegation is required to undergo another swab test and will be quarantined inside the designated accommodation until the test results are released.”

The Malaysian delegation is also required to wear face masks at all times at the areas designated as venues for the official visit, it said.

“The Malaysian delegation is only allowed to the designated areas of the official visit; and no physical contact (handshakes, hugs or touching) will be allowed throughout the official visit.”

The Malaysian delegation is required to undergo mandatory quarantine as soon as they return to Malaysia as prescribed by MOH, it added.

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2021/03/671353/muhyiddin-begin-official-visit-saudi-arabia-uae-tomorrow

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