Singapore and Saudi Arabia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on environmental protection and water resources management, President Halimah Yacob announced yesterday.
The MOU will facilitate cooperation in water quality management, wastewater treatment, solid waste management and pollution control, between both countries.
Speaking at a dinner reception in Jeddah with the Singaporean community based in Saudi Arabia, she said: "This is another good catalyst for deeper cooperation, and will provide more opportunities for the peoples of both countries."
The MOU was signed by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli and his Saudi counterpart, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli, in Riyadh on Wednesday.
Madam Halimah, who is on a week-long state visit to the Middle East, said the MOU is one of the ways Singapore and Saudi Arabia can take bilateral relations to a new level.
She noted that Saudi Arabia is one of Singapore's largest economic partners in the Middle East, and many big Saudi businesses, such as oil giant Saudi Aramco and petrochemical conglomerate Sabic, have a presence in Singapore.
"Many, including even some Singaporeans, may not be aware that Singapore and Saudi Arabia have strong and meaningful cooperation on many fronts," said Madam Halimah.
She said that the two countries work closely together to ensure the security and comfort of Muslim Singaporeans during their haj and umrah pilgrimages.
The countries also cooperate strongly in the area of education, she added, with more than 20 Singaporean researchers and scientists at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and 60 Singaporeans studying across Saudi universities, including the Islamic University of Madinah.
Madam Halimah arrived in Jeddah yesterday morning where she was greeted at the airport by the deputy governor of Mecca, Prince Badr Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
She then met a business delegation organised by the Singapore Business Federation and Enterprise Singapore at the Park Hyatt Jeddah hotel.
Among the members of the delegation was Mr Jimmy Leong, 60, who is in charge of business development at Leung Kai Fook Medical Company, which produces Axe Brand medicated oil.
He told The Straits Times that the Middle East is a valuable market for the company.
"We've been here for almost 50 years. Our annual sales in the Middle East are about $20 million, with Saudi Arabia alone accounting for $6 million."
He added that the region is a good jumping-off point into other places, such as African countries, which Singapore companies typically find difficulty entering due to reasons like regulation and practices.
President Halimah left for the holy city of Mecca yesterday evening, where she will visit historical, cultural and religious sites.
She will depart for Singapore this evening.