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20 May, 2017 12:19:26 AM
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Saudi King likely to visit Dhaka this year

PM flies to Riyadh today
HUMAYUN KABIR BHUIYAN
Saudi King likely to visit Dhaka this year

The engagements between Bangladesh and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have been deepening for past few years, providing Dhaka an opportunity to tap ‘enormous’ potentials from its relationship with Riyadh, diplomatic sources have told The Independent. But, they noted that the question is whether Bangladesh is capable of utilising the opportunity.
There have been some significant visits from both sides in past year, reflecting the keenness of deeper engagements between the two countries, they added.
In this month alone, two important Saudi dignitaries -- speaker of Saudi Arabian parliament and Saudi Arabian culture and information minister – visited Bangladesh.
These visits are reflection of Saudi Arabia’s ‘increased interest’ in the world’s third largest Muslim country and population-wise eighth largest country in the globe, according to diplomatic sources both in Dhaka and Saudi Arabia.  
And, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will fly for the KSA today to attend Arab-Islamic-American summit to be held tomorrow in Riyadh. Among other world leaders, United States president Donald Trump will be joining the summit. Her visit is taking place at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
In March, 2016, Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir visited Bangladesh. It was the first ever visit by a Saudi foreign minister to Bangladesh since its independence in 1971. And, the Saudi

king is most likely to undertake his maiden visit to Bangladesh soon, diplomats in both the capitals have told The Independent.
Although, no specific timeframe has been fixed, it is expected that the Saudi monarch will come to Bangladesh sometime this year, they said.
“The honourable king will visit Bangladesh. It has been put in his schedule,” Saudi Ambassador to Dhaka Abdullah H M Al-Mutairi told The Independent in a recent interview without specifying any time. “We’re trying hard for the visit to take place. Both the capitals are working on a date. We know that the king will visit Bangladesh and it has been put in his schedule. But, as of now, we don’t know the time,” Bangladesh Ambassador in Riyadh Golam Moshi told The Independent.
The visit will ‘undoubtedly’ elevate the relationship with Saudi Arabia, the largest remittance sending country, and open up many avenues of cooperation, he said.
About the visit, couple of sources said that the state visit of the Saudi king will take place all on a sudden sometime this year.
And, he will come to Dhaka with a ‘huge’ investment opportunity for Bangladesh, the sources said.
In line with their Vision-2030 that aims to transform Saudi economy from oil dependency to the one based on trade and investment, they said that the Saudis are interested in investing in ‘commercially-viable projects’ like in infrastructure, roads, railways, tunnels and airports.
“The Saudi projects-based grants in terms of double digit millions to Bangladesh will continue. But, it’s time to talk about investment worth billions of dollar,” a senior diplomat said, adding, “It could be 5 billion or 10 billion. It depends on how much we can take. We are not even good at taking things because of the problems related to delay and coordination between different ministries and departments of government.”
“Things don’t move in our capital,” he said. “We hardly thought beyond sending people to that country to work and receiving some money in terms of grants,” said another diplomat.
“There is a momentum as we speak in favour of Bangladesh. Saudis are keen to expand the engagements with us, as they are pleased with us due to many reasons especially our joining in the Saudi-led military alliance and our statement that we will send troops if the two holiest mosques come under threats,” he said.
“Bangladesh should make the most of the present momentum,” he added.  The diplomats further said that large scale investment from Saudi Arabia will attract investment from other countries especially the ones belonging to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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