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KING SALMAN’S TOUR

At an age which is no longer young, 81 years old, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz ascended the throne in January 2015. Two years later, in late February and in March 2017 the king embarked on  a goodwill tour  to Asia and Jordan. The visit with quite a large group certainly is  not just for pleasure.

The Asian tour began   in  Malaysia, from February 26th  until 28th. Malaysia welcomed King  Salman with a red carpet, a salvo and he was  picked up by the  Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak before   bilateral business meetings. The significance of this visit is a Saudi Arabian Oil company Aramco investment, estimated at 7 billion US Dollars. During the  visit to Malaysia, the King brought  a delegation of 600 people.

In a larger group, consists of  1500 people, 10 Ministers and 25 Princes, King Salman continued his tour to   Indonesia starting today March 1 to 9. The visit is of a special significance  for Saudi Arabian relations with Indonesia. The last  Saudi monarch visit to  Indonesia was made by  King Faisal in 1970. No wonder, Indonesia warmly  welcomed the arrival of King Salman and his entourage. President Joko Widodo personally  welcomed the  important guests just  as King  Salman welcomed him during his visit to Saudi Arabia in September 2015.

The King’s  agenda while  in Indonesia, among others, holding a bilateral meeting at the Bogor Palace, delivering  a speech in the House of Representatives  and praying at Istiqlal Mosque. No less than 10 MOUs will be  signed by the two parties in the fields of infrastructure, investment,  tourism and others. The Saudis investment is expected to reach 25 billion US Dollars. The visit to Indonesia will conclude with a tour in the island resort of Bali for 5 days before leaving the country on 9 March.

King  Salman then will continue the tour with a visit to Brunei Darussalam, on 10 to 11 March. Then headed to two East Asian countries, Japan and China, but the latter  has  not been  confirmed although the country has been included in  the King Salman’s schedule. Maldives in South Asia will be the place where the King and his entourage will spend the  longest time. According to Reuters, the King will enjoy the resort in the Indian Ocean archipelago for two weeks before finally heading to Jordan to meet with leaders of the Arab countries at the end of March.

In the series of visits, Saudi Arabia planned  to invest in various fields. This can not be separated from Saudi Arabian 2030 Vision, a reform initiated by the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. This vision encourages Saudi Arabia to diversify economic resources beyond oil and gas, such as services and tourism as well as modernize the people. Saudi does not want to lag behind neighboring countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates which are no longer dependent on oil. For Indonesia, this is an important moment in opening  investment opportunities and markets in the Middle East.

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