New Bangladesh ambassador vows to ‘elevate’ relations with Saudi Arabia

New Bangladesh ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dr. Mohammed Javed Patwary
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Updated 24 October 2020

New Bangladesh ambassador vows to ‘elevate’ relations with Saudi Arabia

  • Country could become important political and development partner, says envoy

DHAKA: The newly appointed Bangladesh ambassador to Saudi Arabia has vowed to “elevate” his country's relationship with the Kingdom, as well as sending better-trained workers to tap into its post-coronavirus labor market.

Dr. Mohammed Javed Patwary, who is a former police chief, became ambassador to Saudi Arabia in late August.

“Bangladesh, rather than becoming only a labor-sending country, could be an important development and political partner of Saudi Arabia, that is a plan I envisage to implement,” Patwary told Arab News earlier this week.

He said he was planning to advise Dhaka on sending skilled or semi-skilled workers to Saudi Arabia in the future, and that a discussion was underway with Saudi Takamol for the certification of Bangladeshi workers prior to their arrival in the Kingdom.

Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia had the same stance on most international issues, particularly those in the Muslim world, he added.

“To elevate our political relations with the Kingdom to a strategic level and address regional and global security issues together, we have joined the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition,” he said, referring to the intergovernmental counterterrorism alliance of Muslim countries founded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Enhanced political and security relations would be built “within an ecosystem of cooperation in other sectors, including economic and commerce,” he said.

Saudi Arabia is the main destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers and currently hosts more than 2.2 million of them. 

Patwary said since many of them had lost their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak and business shutdowns, he was planning on providing them with training to reintegrate them into the Kingdom's job market with the help of Saudi agencies so that they could become more competitive.

“I also plan to explore the possibility of engaging and employing our workers in the sector of agriculture, fisheries and livestock in Saudi Arabia especially under the prospective Red Sea coastal farming and aquaculture development projects in the near future.”

Patwary said that as Bangladesh had achieved self-sufficiency in food production for its own population, the country's expertise in agriculture, livestock and fisheries could be used in the Saudi context for increasing the volume of agricultural products, especially in the ongoing NEOM and Red Sea coastal area development projects.

The new ambassador wanted to expedite investment projects, following the visit of a high-profile Saudi delegation to Bangladesh in March 2019.

“It is undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the pace of investment negotiation to some extent. But we have been organizing many virtual meetings between the prospective Saudi investors and concerned authorities in Bangladesh over the last few months. We are hopeful of resuming our discussion in full swing as soon as normalcy returns, and (are) also expecting Saudi delegations and experts to visit the sites in Bangladesh when commercial flight operations resume.”

He also expressed his gratitude for Saudi Arabia's support in addressing the Rohingya crisis. Bangladesh is hosting more than a million Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar in 2017 to escape a military-led crackdown.

“We thank Saudi Arabia for its leadership role within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in standing up against such state-sponsored crimes against humanity,” Patwary said. “Saudi Arabia is also a major proponent of the UN resolution against Myanmar. Besides, as the OIC summit chair, the Kingdom is providing valuable guidelines and financial support for the case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice. We are also grateful to King Salman for the humanitarian support to the refugees.”

How the Arab News survey of French people of Arab origin was conducted

Updated 26 min 49 sec ago

How the Arab News survey of French people of Arab origin was conducted

  • Arab News en Francais-YouGov poll was based on sample of nearly 1,000 people spread across five age groups
  • A very large proportion of the respondents identified their country of origin as Algeria, followed by Morocco

DUBAI: As a wave of Islamist attacks hit France, Arab News en Francais commissioned YouGov, the leading online polling company, to conduct a study to provide answers to the recurrent phenomenon.

The survey was based on a sample of nearly 1,000 respondents living in France, spread across five age groups, six countries of origin, three types of residential areas, five categories of employment and three educational levels. The aim was to ascertain the sense of inclusion and level of integration of French Arabs and Muslims in French society.

The survey covered a sample of 52 percent of women and 48 percent of men, across five age groups: 18-24 years (15 percent); 25-34 years (31 percent); 35-44 years (32 percent); 45-54 years (14 percent); and 55 years or older (8 percent).

A large proportion of the respondents identified their country of origin as Algeria (43 percent). The other prominent countries of origin were Morocco (32 percent), Tunisia (14 percent), Lebanon (3 percent), Egypt (2 percent) and other Arab states (6 percent).

The working status of the respondents fell into the following categories: 65 percent employed; 10 percent unemployed; 8 percent students; 3 percent retired; and 14 percent others. Of the respondents, 49 percent live in large cities, 39 percent in medium cities and 12 percent in rural areas.

The sample included people of various education levels: 20 percent do not hold a bachelor’s degree; 24 percent hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent; and 55 percent hold a higher education degree.

The findings show that 65 percent said they would support the French values of secularism in their home country. An even higher number, 80 percent, of respondents over 45 years of age supported this opinion. If the majority of respondents defended the French secular model, less than half (46 percent) opposed the same model in Arab countries.