A top Indonesian diplomat sought here Thursday to change the perception Saudis have of his country, saying that it is the world’s 10th largest economy, and not merely a labor-exporting nation.
Abdurrahman Mohammad Fachir, the Indonesian ambassador, said Saudi businesspeople have so far failed to see the business potential in his nation.
Indonesian pilgrims inject about $3 billion into the Saudi economy annually, said Fachir during a business meeting at his Riyadh residence.
“As the nation with the world’s largest number of Muslims, Indonesia sends about 900,000 pilgrims for Haj and Umrah every year,” said Fachir. This year, the nation has collected $5.4 billion from prospective pilgrims, who each made a $2,000 down payment to join the Indonesia government’s Haj waiting list.
The business meeting, in which the speakers stressed the need to strengthen Saudi-Indonesia ties in different sectors, was attended by several officials and businessmen from both countries. Abdurrahman Sabran, the embassy’s minister counselor; Fikdanel Thaufik, general manager of Garuda Indonesia; and Shahid Fareed, Garuda sales manager, were also present.
Fachir said two-way trade between Riyadh and Jakarta had been in the region of $8 billion annually, in favor of the Kingdom. “Indonesia has the 10th largest economy in the world, according to a recent report by the World Bank, with the country contributing 2.3 percent of global economic output.”
He said the report showed that the top nine are the United States, China, India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Brazil, France and Britain.
The middle-income economies of Indonesia, China, India, Russia, Brazil and Mexico now account for 32.3 percent of world Gross Domestic Product. That compares with the 32.9 percent contributed by the six largest high-income economies, the US, Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom and Italy.
Asked about the progress made on the defense cooperation agreement signed earlier this year, Fachir said an eight-member delegation from the Indonesian defense sector would arrive in Riyadh on Sunday to hold talks with their counterparts. The joint panel would map out the details, he said.
The envoy said the Indonesian government has warned its pilgrims to take care of their health while performing Umrah because of the spike in Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infections in Saudi Arabia and other countries. Two Indonesians who recently returned home from Saudi Arabia have died, raising fears that there would be a MERS outbreak on the archipelago.

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