Brunei, Saudi Arabia deepen relations


Elegant: Jabal Omar project in Mekah, the proposed economic city that will diversify and sustain economic growth by attracting investment into the Kingdom. Picture: Courtesy of Embassy of Saudi Arabia


SAUDI ARABIA's ancestry goes back to the most primitive civilization of the Arabian Peninsula. Over the centuries, the peninsula has played an important role in history, not only as an ancient trade hub but also as the native land of Islam, one of the major monotheistic faiths in the globe.

Since the very establishment of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932 at the hands of its founding father, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, it has been witnessing astonishing transformation and incessant progress covering all aspects of life.

In a few short decades, the Kingdom was able to turn itself from a desert nation to a modern, well-developed and sophisticated state playing a major and influential role, both on the regional and international levels.

As such, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has embarked upon a comprehensive reform agenda to promote a vibrant economy, a civil society, and broader political participation by Saudi citizens. 

To fully understand any nation in the modern era, it is important to examine the characteristics of its society and culture. 

King Abdullah stated that major divisions among the faiths of the world were not caused by individuals but by deviant viewpoints and misinterpretation. 

In the area of religious affairs, the Kingdom has made great efforts to provide the best care and services for Hajj and Umrah performers. It keeps on expanding the Two Holy Mosques and other religious sites in the Kingdom in line with the growing needs of Muslims throughout the world These existing expansion projects, which cost more than US$8 billion, will include the Holy sites expansion, roads intersections, bridges, Jabal Omar project, development of the parallel road, development of Jabal Khandamah, development of Shiab Amer, development of Jabal Al-Ka'aba, as well as a development of a residential area following the latest standards of planning, and development of Agyad Hospital. 

The high oil revenues have encouraged the massive spending on the economic projects; this is in addition to measures that have been taken for the development of business environment. Saudi Arabia is now prepared to witness the best years of non-oil growth. 

The key players for the next phase will be manufacturing, transport, communications, financial services, and construction. 

Pace has been accelerated in the Kingdom to achieve many of the giant economic projects are worth over US$300 billion.

There are also plans to release new regulations governing corporate work and government's competitions. It has been decided to enhance the law of commercial courts and upgrade the corporate governance. These essential measures and strategic economic planning being taken have attracted growing numbers of foreign companies. The opening of foreign banks in Saudi Arabia appeared to be an important step in this direction, leading to increase the business confidence of companies that belong to the same countries of the banks, in order to establish working relations in the Kingdom. 

The manufacturing sector is expected to achieve the fastest growth rates in the nearest future with the petrochemical industry taking the lead in this sector. 

An additional huge production capacity in the area of cement industry will be introduced in 2009, which provides an opportunity for local cement companies to benefit more from the current boom in the construction sector, in light of the increased domestic demand. 

Three new licences for communication companies operating in the area of fixed line have been issued during the first half of 2007. This in addition to Saudi Telecom Company services, with another licence granted to a third company operating in the area of mobile telecommunication. 

In the area of financial services sector, growth rate is expected to be rapid in the next five years as the liberalization of recently issued laws has led to the openness of banking and insurance industries, while new upcoming laws would lead to the creation of newly born land mortgage market. 

It is also significant that the work competition would boost, expand, and deepen the financial services sector.

As for foreign investment, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has surpassed all Middle Eastern countries and Arab states in terms of foreign investment attractiveness. This is according to the World Investment Report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), where the volume of foreign investments attracted by the Kingdom in 2007 stood at more than US$24 billion. These projects include the Economic City of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, The Knowledge City in Al Madinah Al-Munawara, economic projects in the cities of Al-Qassim, Hail and Gizan, the financial cities in Riyadh, and the University of King Abdullah for Science and Technology. 

These economic cities are an important part of the ambitious plan to improve Saudi Arabia's economy and help diversify its income sources in order to reduce reliance on oil exports, and it comes under the framework of an advanced programme aimed at placing Saudi Arabia among the world's top 10 competitive investment destinations by 2010. 

As for the area of bilateral relations, 21 years have passed since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Brunei Darussalam established diplomatic ties. 

These relations, based on mutual understanding, respect, and bonds of brotherhood, that link the two kingdoms, have witnessed continuous progress and enhancement. 

Ties have been further strengthened under the prudent leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdul lah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, and His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. 

This year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has received the first Bruneian tourist delegation consisting of 164 members, and more than 5,000 visitors for Haj and Umrah, business, tourist, conferences, and others. 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia always welcome visits by Bruneian officials, executives, businessmen, tourists, and pilgrims that would enhance and further strengthen ties and bring together the two brotherly people and countries towards a better future.​