Saudi Arabia inks 11 deals with Indonesia

King Salman, on a 12-day state visit to Indonesia, says Muslims need to unite and fight against 'terrorism'.
President Joko and King Salman at the presidential palace in Bogor yesterday. This is the first visit by a Saudi king to Indonesia in 47 years, and follows Mr Joko's visit to Riyadh in 2015.
President Joko and King Salman at the presidential palace in Bogor yesterday. This is the first visit by a Saudi king to Indonesia in 47 years, and follows Mr Joko's visit to Riyadh in 2015.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Jokowi, Saudi king express hope that bilateral ties will strengthen amid deeper cooperation

Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have inked 11 agreements, including pacts on security and infrastructure development, during King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud's visit to the South- east Asian country yesterday.

This second stop of his tour of Asia, which started on Sunday in Malaysia, is the first by a Saudi king to Indonesia in 47 years. Yesterday's state visit follows Indonesian President Joko Widodo's visit to Riyadh in 2015, and is part of King Salman's month-long Asian tour that also takes in Brunei, Japan, China and the Maldives.

The king was received by Mr Joko, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin as well as Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama in the capital Jakarta before they made their way to Bogor, in West Java, for bilateral meetings under heavy security.

The entourage was greeted by a heavy downpour when they arrived at the Bogor presidential palace in the afternoon. "Heavy rain welcomed King Salman bin Abdulaziz at Istana Bogor," said Mr Joko in a Facebook post. "Every drop of rain is a blessing from God. Hopefully this meeting is a blessing for Indonesia and Saudi Arabia."

The 11 agreements signed cover plans to cooperate on Islamic affairs, healthcare, education, culture, SME development and investments in the fisheries sector and civil aviation operations.

Saudi oil firm Aramco on Monday inked a deal with Indonesian state- owned oil company Pertamina to upgrade the capacity of the Cilacap refinery in Central Java, with a US$6 billion (S$8.5 billion) investment commitment. 

Mr Joko, also known as Jokowi, said Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are nations that have significant influence in their respective regions. "His majesty's visit comes at a good time to strengthen the relationship between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, which are united through Islam, a brotherhood and a mutually beneficial relationship," he added.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world.

King Salman thanked Mr Joko for the invitation and the warm welcome: "I pray to God that this meeting will strengthen the bilateral relationship between our two countries. I also pray that God will always give success to all of us."

King Salman is expected to visit Parliament and Indonesia's central mosque Masjid Istiqlal, as well as meet Islamic groups today and tomorrow before heading to Bali on Saturday for a week-long vacation.

The royal arrival was preceded by news of the 459 tonnes of shipment for the King's tour, which includes two Mercedes-Benz S600 cars and electric lifts. He also has an entourage of nearly 1,500 people, including 10 ministers and 20 princes.

Trade between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia had fallen as much as 36 per cent from 2014 to 2015, according to latest figures.

Mr Fachry Thaib, head of the Middle East committee at Indonesia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the tour is a move by Saudi Arabia to expand its trade influence in the region. "Saudi Arabia cannot rely on oil for its revenue forever, therefore it needs to invest its wealth to ensure sustainable income," he told MetroTV yesterday.

"It is looking for non-traditional markets and Indonesia must act quickly in tapping such opportunity," he added. "We have a lot of unexploited natural resources that Saudi Arabia can invest in. They need us and we need them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2017, with the headline 'Saudi Arabia inks 11 deals with Indonesia'. Print Edition | Subscribe