The bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), in the recent times, have reached a new echelon which has been termed as the ‘golden era’ of relations by international affairs analysts and diplomats.
The analysts are of the view that the ties on all fronts between the two brotherly nations have deepened much stronger than ever under the able leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The analysts and diplomats observe that diplomatic efforts made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and successive Kings and Crown Princes of the kingdom largely contributed to deepening the ties. They also added that several bilateral high-voltage visits between the two nations also helped relations get momentum over the past one decade.
Moreover, Dhaka’s joining the anti-terrorism military alliance led by Riyadh in 2015 has also given a significant boost in this regard, according to diplomatic sources. The sources said, earlier, the relations between the two countries got shrunken due to Khaleda Zia’s little efforts in this regard.
But due to Sheikh Hasina’s sincere exertion, both the countries have opened a new chapter of their bilateral ties on all fronts, including religious, economic, political and military during this time.
On political front, quite a good number of visits on high level between both the countries were made during this period. Of them, Sheikh Hasina’s last month’s visit to the KSA played a much important role.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid a four-day state visit, last month, to the KSA at the invitation of Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, also the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
During her visit in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Hasina had separate meetings with the Saudi King, Saudi Crown Prince, and Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh.
Besides, the prime minister had a meeting with the Saudi business community, including leaders of the Council of Saudi Chamber (CSC) and Riyadh Chamber of Commerce, at Riyadh where five memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed between the two countries.
Sheikh Hasina also opened the Chancery Complex of Bangladesh Embassy constructed on its own land at the Diplomatic Quarters in Riyadh and laid the foundation stone of the Chancery Building of Bangladesh Consulate in Jeddah.
Saudi King Salman, during Sheikh Hasina’s visit, set an extraordinary example of offering respect to the Bangladesh premier by receiving and seeing her off at the gate of his palace in a rare gesture of showing respect by the kingdom.
Bangladesh has also shown its goodwill by attending a joint military exercise in Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the King last April.
Sheikh Hasina has also proven her sincerity by attending the Arab-Islamic American Summit in Riyadh last year.
Such frequent visits by the prime minister have taken the bilateral relations between the two countries to a new height, the analysts said.
As a token of good ties, Saudi Arabia has given consent to a proposal of Bangladesh to send close relatives of women workers with them to the kingdom to avoid any controversy.
To maintain the pace of the country’s development, the Saudi labour ministry has agreed in principle to recruit more workers from Bangladesh.
Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali said Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia enjoy fraternal ties which have been possible due to pragmatic leadership of Sheikh Hasina.
He expressed his firm belief that the ties will keep boosting in the coming years.
Saudi Arabia, as a time-honoured development partner of Bangladesh, has been making immense contributions since the kingdom recoginsed Bangladesh as an independent country in 1975.
The kingdom has been providing Bangladesh with economic assistance in different projects, including rural infrastructure development, health, rural electrification, communication, irrigation, disaster and post-disaster relief and rehabilitation in the form of grants and loans.
While assisting Bangladesh’s economy to further boost, Saudi Arabia has been importing readymade garments, frozen and dry foods, vegetables, spices and melamine items from Bangladesh.
On the other hand, Bangladesh also imports oil, petro-chemicals and fertilisers in large quantities from the kingdom.
Under the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Bangladesh has received around SR2000 million so far as economic assistance from the KSA to help implement projects including infrastructure development, irrigation, rural electrification, roads and railways, fertiliser and health.
The KSA has financed, through the Saudi-Bangladesh Industrial and Agricultural Investment Company Limited (SABINCO), around one hundred projects so far in different sectors, including textile, cement, fisheries and chemicals, in Bangladesh.
Many Saudi entrepreneurs have also showed their interest to invest in different other sectors of Bangladesh, including power, information technology, manufacturer of ceramic products, pharmaceuticals, and tourism.