Speaking to the Singapore media about her first state visit to the Middle East, President Halimah said the vibes she felt during the meetings were “extremely positive”, and the leaders looked at Singapore as a role model as the Republic has been “very successful” in its development efforts despite its small size.
Vast wealth and the promise of dramatic change make for cautious optimism concerning Saudi Arabia, the chief executive…515 Views | the publication reaches you by | Saudi Arabia Today
“In fact, King Salman (of Saudi Arabia) raised the idea of having a joint commission,” she shared. “He said we should have a joint commission in order to further our collaboration with each other, and I think that’s a useful idea which we can further explore.”
President Halimah has visited Kuwait and Saudi Arabia over the past week, and met leaders from both countries, including Kuwait Amir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
She highlighted that the two countries already have economic cooperation with Singapore in areas such as oil and gas, financial services as well as information and communications technology (ICT).
There has also been collaboration at the governmental level to create developmental opportunities, she added, citing the memorandum of understanding on environmental protection and water resources management that was signed with Saudi Arabia on Wednesday as one example.
“Apart from that, between Saudi Arabia and us, there’s also a lot of interest in so many different areas, particularly now that Saudi Arabia has launched the Vision 2030,” said President Halimah.
Vision 2030 is the Saudi reform programme to develop the country’s education, healthcare, infrastructure, recreation and tourism sectors, and prepare its economy for a post-oil era.
“There’s a lot of focus on diversification in terms of tourism, fintech and ICT. These are areas that present opportunities for the private sector of the two countries.”
President Halimah also noted that Singapore is the only country outside the Gulf states which has signed a Free Trade Agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional bloc formed by six Arab states – Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. She said that “provides a source of impetus for trade and investment” with the two countries she visited.
The issue of the quota for Singaporeans allowed to perform the annual haj pilgrimage was brought up by President Halimah during her meeting with King Salman in Riyadh on Wednesday.
The quota for Singaporean pilgrims, set by the Ministry of Haj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia, was increased from 800 places in 2017 to 900 places last year.
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