Welcoming increased interest from Saudi Arabia to invest in Bangladesh, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Tuesday said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has emerged as a valued development partner.
Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) has contributed some 533.23 million dollars in loan assistance and 106.38 million in grant assistance in infrastructure development of Bangladesh, he said.
"Bangladesh deeply appreciates Saudi Arabia's commitment and efforts to diplomacy and regional stability," said the State Minister, while speaking at a reception as guest of honor marking the 93rd National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the Royal Saudi Embassy.
PM's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman joined as the chief guest.
Saudi Ambassador to Bangladesh Essa Yousef Essa Al Duhailan also spoke at the event, attended by Cabinet members, Ambassadors and High Commissioners stationed in Dhaka, business leaders and senior journalists.
Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh welcomes Saudi Arabia's restoration of ties with Iran and Qatar, its willingness to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, its initiative to bring Syria to the Arab League, and finding a political solution to the Yemen crisis. "We further reiterate our support for the Middle East peace process."
'We also take note of Saudi Arabia's increasing global clout and welcome Saudi Arabia's inclusion to BRICS. Indeed, we are happy to support Saudi Arabia in hosting Expo 2030 in Riyadh," he said.
The State Minister laid emphasis on continued peace, progress and prosperity of Saudi Arabia.
"We hope that Bangladesh-Saudi relations will grow from strength to strength and move forward to the mutual benefits of our two peoples," he said, commending the Ambassador for his active and dynamic roles in strengthening mutual cooperation and bilateral engagements to new dimensions.
The State Minister conveyed their heartfelt felicitations to the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince and the Prime Minister Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, brotherly people and the government of Saudi Arabia on this grand occasion.
He said Bangladesh and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are trusted friends and bilateral partners.
"Bangladesh enjoys excellent multifaceted relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the bilateral and multilateral areas," said the State Minister.
The relations take roots in the commonality of positions on major global issues and complementarity of interests in the economic fields, deep understanding, mutual respect, similar aspirations for peace and development underpinned by common Islamic tradition and culture, he said.
"The engagements today span across many areas including economy, trade, investment, energy security, agriculture, culture, education, etc. in addition to the dominant sector of manpower," said the State Minister.
Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh-Saudi relationship is witnessing a new era of partnership through a plethora of engagements.
"The depth and warmth of our ties is reflected in the high level visit and frequent exchange of messages between the leaders of our two countries," he said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Saudi Arabia five times during the last 15 years in 2009, 2016, 2017, and twice in 2018 respectively.
Bangladesh also received high level delegations from Saudi Arabia to Dhaka including the Saudi Foreign Minister, Commerce Minister, Deputy Minister for Interior Affairs, and the Minister and Deputy Minister for Hajj and Umrah, along with a number of business delegations to Dhaka.
"Our President and Prime Minister's recent productive meetings with the Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud this year has inspired us to further elevate our excellent fraternal relations," said Shahriar.
The Kingdom is hosting 2.8 million workers from Bangladesh, who are not only the largest expat group in the Kingdom but also the biggest community of Bangladeshi expatriates outside Bangladesh.
"It's a matter of great satisfaction that our overseas employment cooperation has expanded many-fold in recent years," Shahriar added.
The two countries signed a vital agreement this year related to Workers' Recruitment and Skill Verification Programme (SVP) specific to the Bangladeshi workforce, through which the Kingdom will recruit skilled workers while continuing to recruit unskilled workers from the country.