INTERNATIONAL CITY OF KUALA LUMPUR: Experts and government officials in Malaysia expressed optimism about future ties with Saudi Arabia following the recent visit of the Kingdom’s minister responsible for Hajj and Umrah.
Dr. Tawfiq Al-three-day Rabiah’s trip to the Southeast Asian country came to a close on Wednesday. During his stay, he met with the country’s new Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, members of his Cabinet, and Hajj officials.
Malaysia’s new prime minister, who took office in November and is one of the most prominent Muslim leaders in Southeast Asia, tweeted after the visit that “the close relationship between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia established over the years is expected to become closer.”
Officials who met with Al-Rabiah said in an interview with Arab News that the trip would pave the way for future collaboration in a variety of fields.
Malaysia’s Tabung Hajji chief Amrin Awaluddin viewed the visit of the large Saudi delegation and the numerous meetings held with Malaysian ministers as a sign of increased cooperation between the two countries.
The minister’s visit, he continued, had “brought Malaysia-Saudi relations to another level, forging deeper ties between the two countries,” which was especially helpful to Malaysian Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.
The majority of Malaysia’s 34 million people—and its official religion—are Muslims. About 31,600 of them are expected to visit the Kingdom this year to carry out the Hajj ritual.
Al-Rabiah launched the Nusuk platform in the Kingdom to help pilgrims organize and reserve trips to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
Tabung Hajji, the Saudi Hajj ministry’s headquarters, hosted a training session for pilgrim group leaders to better the quality of services provided to pilgrims, ease their journeys, and provide them with more religious and cultural opportunities in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
The minister and his delegation from Saudi Arabia also met with Malaysian pilgrimage organizers to discuss ways to increase tourism to the Kingdom, particularly as religious tourism has given way to heritage tourism in the country.
“The event in Kuala Lumpur was about the launch of Nusuk, but at our trade meeting with the minister, we discussed issues about airlines, hotels, etc.,” said Razali Mohd. Sham, president of the Malaysian Umrah and Hajj Travel Association.
We can now travel to other cities in Saudi Arabia besides Makkah and Madinah, and the locals there are very welcoming.
President of the Malaysia Tourism Council Uzaidi Udanis, who also met with Al-Rabiah, told Arab News that ties between the two countries are strengthening and expanding beyond Hajj and Umrah.
Using cutting-edge technology, “Saudi is transforming,” he said.
“Malaysians are increasingly keen to travel to Saudi Arabia, both for business and pleasure.”