Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bangkok. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bangkok. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on the sidelines of APEC summit in Bangkok. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on the sidelines of APEC summit in Bangkok. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on the sidelines of APEC summit in Bangkok. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with French president Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Thailand. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with French president Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Thailand. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with French president Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Thailand. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Indonesian president Joko Widodo on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Thailand. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Thailand. (Twitter: @spagov)
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Updated 19 November 2022
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Saudi Arabia and Thailand: Burgeoning ties bind two friendly kingdoms

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit expected to give a boost to trade, investment and economic cooperation
  • Bilateral ties improving by leaps and bounds since resumption of Saudi-Thai diplomatic relations earlier this year

RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s official visit to Thailand, participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and meetings with several Asian heads of government are the latest highlights of a successful tour of Asia.

Friday’s engagements in Bangkok came after an official visit by the crown prince to Seoul for meetings with the South Korean leadership and signing of economic deals. He also attended the two-day G20 leaders’ summit in Bali, Indonesia.

The crown prince’s arrival in the Thai capital on Thursday represented a symbolic turning of the page in Saudi-Thai relations and followed the resumption of diplomatic ties in January.

He was invited by Thailand to join the APEC forum as a guest of honor despite Saudi Arabia not being a member of the group, an indication of Thailand’s desire to enhance cooperation, trade and investment to serve both kingdoms.

Leaders and representatives from 21 economies on both sides of the Pacific Ocean were expected to discuss how to maintain stability during the challenges of climate change and the growing political and economic fallout of the war in Ukraine.




Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives in Thailand on an official visit, where he was received by the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of Thailand. (SPA)

The summit began with an appeal by the host Thailand for member states to work together to attain sustainable growth and development.

The crown prince and APEC leaders discussed sustainable trade and investment in an informal dialogue session. He also held talks with national leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah.

Abdurrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Suhaibani, the Saudi ambassador to Thailand, told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that the crown prince’s visit came after an invitation from Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and followed a landmark visit he made to Saudi Arabia in January.

Al-Suhaibani said the significance of the visit was evident given it coincided with the APEC forum, involving the participation of 23 countries. He said it was aimed at strengthening cooperation and partnership between the two countries and would help boost relations and trade.

He added that the exploration of areas of investment opportunities was necessary in light of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan and the development priorities of Thailand, which include the policy of a circular, green economy.

The two countries were also looking for cooperation in renewable energy, the environment, digital transformation and cybersecurity, Al-Suhaibani said.




Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greets Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as he arrives in Riyadh on an official visit in January 2022. (SPA)

The ambassador said that the visit was “an extension of the Kingdom’s efforts in serving Islam and Muslims all over the world. The Kingdom’s government has paid attention to the Muslims of Thailand and takes care of them in cooperation and coordination with the Thai government.”

After Prayuth’s visit to the Kingdom, ambassadors were appointed to their respective capitals and agreements on tourism, labor, energy and food security were signed. The first commercial flight from Riyadh to Bangkok arrived on Feb. 28.

A memorandum of understanding on Thai workers taking jobs in Saudi Arabia was signed in March. In May, Khalid Al-Falih, the Saudi minister of investment, and Don Pramudwinai, Thailand’s foreign minister, jointly hosted the Saudi-Thai Investment Forum.

By August, Saudi arrivals in the Southeast Asian country had risen to 35,000. Thailand hopes to attract up to 300,000 Saudi visitors by the end of the year.

In September, a memorandum of understanding was signed to create the Thai-Saudi Business Council, marking a significant step toward cementing trade ties and potentially giving Thailand access to the wider Gulf Cooperation Council market.

Trade relations have been steadily developing. Saudi Aramco has an agreement to sell 166,000 barrels per day of crude oil to the Thai company PTT Public. The firm has now proposed to increase the quantities and duration of the deliveries.

The Saudi firm SABIC has a factory in Thailand that produces specialized materials such as NORYL plastics. The company sells around 1.3 million tons of petrochemical products and fertilizers in Thailand a year and employs 83 people in its regional office in Bangkok.

The volume of the Kingdom's exports to Thailand amounted to $4 billion during 2020, while the volume of Thailand's exports to the Kingdom amounted to $1.65 billion in the same year, according to Saudi government sources.

The volume of trade exchange between Saudi Arabia and Thailand in the past five years amounted to $34.65 billion, according to SPA.

The Kingdom's non-oil exports to Thailand exceeded SR2 billion during the year 2020, with mineral, chemical and aluminum products topping the list of the most important exported commodities. Cars and their parts, machinery, wood and its products were among most prominent imported commodities.

The two countries are seeking cooperation in agriculture through and trade in basic crops such as rice and halal items.

Saudi Arabia is eager to export dates to Thailand and to enhance cooperation in Thai fish and poultry farming.

THENUMBER

*$34.65bn - Volume of KSA-Thailand trade in the past 5 years.

The Kingdom maintained its support for Thailand’s Muslims even before the resumption of diplomatic relations this year. 

Saudi Arabia provided humanitarian assistance after the 2004 tsunami, including $30 million in donations and 75 tons of relief.

In May 2019, Saudi Arabia extended support to Thai Muslims through scholarships and financial support, and, in April of last year distributed food to around 35,000 people during Ramadan.




Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading delegates from the Kingdom to attend the annual gathering of the 21-member APEC. (Twitter: @spagov)

In August, the Islamic Center in Bangkok opened an exhibition of Saudi culture and heritage, which was organized by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

Saudi Arabia first established diplomatic relations with Thailand in 1957. The two kingdoms enjoyed good relations that were strengthened with official visits.

In March 1966, the Kingdom raised the level of diplomatic representation in Thailand from a consulate to an embassy. Thailand opened its embassy in Riyadh in 1984 while keeping its consulate in Jeddah.

Relations between the two countries developed and continued in all political, economic, trade and tourism fields until 1990.

During his visit to Riyadh in January, Prayuth said Thailand attached utmost importance to friendship with Saudi Arabia, and was keen to end all outstanding issues.

He expressed his sincere regret over the tragic events that occurred in Thailand in 1989 and 1990, and said that the Thai government had made great efforts to resolve previous issues.

Thailand also stressed its commitment to the protection of Saudi diplomats in Thailand, in accordance with the Vienna Convention, and said it would raise previous issues with the competent authorities if new evidence surfaced.


Muharram moon visible in daylight hours today

Updated 13 July 2024
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Muharram moon visible in daylight hours today

JEDDAH: The Jeddah Astronomy Society has announced that the moon, in its first-quarter phase for the month of Muharram, will be visible in the sky over the Arab world during daylight hours on Saturday July 13, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The moon will rise at noon local time from the eastern horizon and reach its highest point in the sky at sunset, giving astronomy enthusiasts an excellent opportunity to study its surface. After nightfall, Spica, one of the 20 brightest stars in the night sky, will be visible near the moon.

Majid Abu Zahra, the head of the Jeddah Astronomy Society, explained that Spica actually consists of two stars orbiting each other, but due to their vast distance from Earth, it appears as a single object.

He noted that, during its first-quarter phase, half of the moon is illuminated. This is the ideal time, he said, to observe the moon’s surface with binoculars or a small telescope, as the mountains, craters, and other features are particularly clear, especially along the terminator line, which separates the day side from the night side. “The interplay of light and shadows along this line provides a stunning three-dimensional view,” Abu Zahra explained.

He added that the moon will remain visible until midnight local time, reaching its first quarter phase at 1:48 a.m. Makkah. At this point, it will have completed a quarter of its orbit around the Earth for this month.


Saudi FM hosts French presidential advisor for Middle East, North Africa

Updated 13 July 2024
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Saudi FM hosts French presidential advisor for Middle East, North Africa

RIYAD: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan hosted Anne-Claire Legendre, the advisor to the French president for the Middle East and North Africa, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

During the meeting at the ministry on Friday, the two sides reviewed Saudi-French relations, ways to strengthen ties in various fields and the latest regional developments, particularly concerning the Gaza Strip.

The meeting was attended by Prince Saad bin Mansour Al-Saud, director general of the General Department for European Affairs at the Foreign Ministry.


Saudi hospital performs 3 successful heart transplants in less than 24 hours

Updated 13 July 2024
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Saudi hospital performs 3 successful heart transplants in less than 24 hours

RIYADH: King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center performed three successful heart transplants in Riyadh on Thursday, state news agency SPA reported.

A nine-year-old girl was among the patients who received a successful transplant.

She was suffering from heart muscle weakness and needed a donation urgently.

A suitable donor was found for her in coordination with the UAE’s Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation and the National Program for Donation and Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissue.

The heart was transported from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh by a private aircraft that kept the organ in a stable condition and ensured it arrived safely to the patient.

A second team of medical professionals flew to Jeddah to obtain a donation for a 40-year-old man suffering from heart disease.

The final patient received his donation from Riyadh. The 41-year-old man was suffering from heart failure and was successfully operated on. 

KFSHRC affirmed its dedication to saving lives, overcoming challenges and bringing hope to patients and their families.


KSrelief distributes 1,200 food baskets in Chad

Updated 13 July 2024
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KSrelief distributes 1,200 food baskets in Chad

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief has distributed 1,200 food parcels in the Beheira region of Chad, benefiting 7,200 people most in need, as part of a project to support food security in Chad in 2024, the state news agency SPA reported late on Friday.

The assistance is part of a series of humanitarian projects Saudi Arabia implements through KSrelief to help countries and people worldwide.


KSrelief signs agreement to support Yemen humanitarian fund

Updated 13 July 2024
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KSrelief signs agreement to support Yemen humanitarian fund

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief signed an agreement with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Thursday to support the Yemen Humanitarian Fund, state news agency SPA reported.

The aid agency committed $9 million to the cause, and the initiative is part of KSrelief’s humanitarian aid program in Yemen.

The agreement was signed via video conference by KSrelief Assistant Supervisor General of Operations and Programs Ahmed Al-Baiz and UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Joyce Msuya.