AFTER meeting with former President now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, officials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are now considering the Philippines as a business partner.
The Saudi Arabia officials welcomed the initiative of Arroyo to invite Saudi Arabian businessmen to invest in Mindanao.
Arroyo led some Mindanaoan solons on an investment mission in Saudi Arabia following the passage and ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
The Arroyo team met first with the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA) headed by its Governor Engr. Ibrahim Al Omar and then with Dr. Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al Sheik, her Saudi Arabian counterpart as President of the Majlis Al Shura of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom’s legislative body.
Governor Al Omar said Speaker Arroyo’s initiative to lead an investment mission to Saudi Arabia is timely because they have opened a lot of industries to foreigners and Saudi Arabian businessmen are actively looking for investment opportunities in and outside their Kingdom.
SAGIA is the office in charge of all investment-related activities in Saudi Arabia.
Al Omar pointed out that with the vision of Saudi Arabia to be an investment powerhouse and the country that connects three continents by 2030, investing in other countries especially in areas most important to their growth is one of their priorities.
He pointed out that Saudi Arabia is looking for partnerships to address their key sectors, particularly the Halal food market which is a US$1.3 trillion industry.
Part of the delegation are Reps. Mauyag Papandayan, Macmod Mending Jr., Amihilda Sangcopan, Bai Sandra Sema, Ruby Sahali and Shernee Tan.
Dr. Al Sheik for his part said the Philippines is very important to Saudi Arabia because of the valuable contributions of Filipinos working in the Kingdom.
He said that they are always looking for ways to improve bilateral relations and investment opportunities will always be a welcome development in that respect.
According to Arroyo, Saudi Arabia will always have special consideration in the Philippine setting not only because of the almost one million Filipinos working in the Kingdom but also because of its support of the peace efforts in the Philippines.
She said with the passage and ratification of the BOL, the people of the Bangsamoro region are now expecting that it will bring prosperity in the area. Such could only be achieved, she pointed out, if jobs are created from new investments.
“So it is now our responsibility to try to do what we can in order to fulfill the expectations of the people of Bangsamoro that they be lifted out of poverty, and the best way to fight poverty now in the Bangsamoro is to be able to create jobs. With the help of the Saudi Arabian business community, we hope that there will be investments that will create jobs that is why I brought six congressmen, six legislators from the Bangsamoro with six specific investment proposals so that we can invite the Saudi businessmen to invest in Bangsamoro and help fight poverty,” she said.