Saudi Gazette | 13 September 2009
By Ronaldo Z. Concha and Gloria Esguerra Melencio
JEDDAH/MANILA – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will visit Saudi Arabia next week to promote the Philippines as an attractive investment destination, look after the welfare of Filipino overseas workers and strengthen relations with the two countries.
The president will visit Saudi Arabia on her way back from the United Kingdom where she will deliver a keynote address at the Emerging Markets Summit Sept. 17-18 in London, on the invitation of The Economist newsmagazine.
The president will be in the Kingdom Sept. 21-23 on the invitation of King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, for the inauguration of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal Sept. 23, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila said Saturday.
Consul General Ezzedin Tago said Arroyo will visit Dammam Sept. 20 to meet with the Filipino community in the Eastern Province before going to Jeddah Sept. 21.
In a briefing with Filipino community leaders at the Philippine Consulate General Friday night, Tago said the president will meet the Filipino community in Jeddah Sept. 22 at the Habitat Hotel on Madina Road. Tago asked Filipino community leaders to register early to be included in the list of guests who will meet Arroyo.
Labor Attache Vicente Cabe and other consulate officials will meet with the community leaders next week to finalize the activities for the president’s visit.
Arroyo will be accompanied by some members of her Cabinet and congressmen.
The KAUST inauguration will coincide with the Saudi National Day celebrations and the Eid El-Fitr, marking the end of holy month of Ramadan, the DFA said.
Arroyo will discuss with King Abdullah matters that will further strengthen bilateral relations, including closer economic cooperation, the Philippines’ bid for observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the welfare of Filipino workers in the Kingdom, the DFA said.
Pardon for jailed workers are often granted during the holy month of Ramadan.
The DFA said Arroyo will also meet with Saudi Minister of Agriculture Fahd Bin Abdulrahman Balghunaim to discuss bilateral agricultural projects and with members of the Saudi business community for talks on proposals for investments in the Philippines .
At the Emerging Markets Summit in London, Arroyo will join the heads of other emerging economies like Thailand, Ukraine, Tunisia, Turkey and Rwanda who will also deliver keynote speeches.
The conference’s theme is “Globalization Redefined by Emerging Markets,” the DFA said. Over 300 business leaders and investors from across the globe are expected to attend the forum which will give the president the opportunity to share the Philippines’ view on “Asia’s leadership in the global economic recovery” and to promote her country as a highly attractive investment destination.
The president is expected to highlight the resilience and continued growth of the Philippine economy which reported a growth of 1.5 percent in the second quarter of 2009, three times the average growth projected in the current global economic downturn.
During Arroyo’s visit to London, two bilateral agreements will be signed to firm up legal cooperation between the Philippines and the United Kingdom, the DFA said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and British First Secretary of State Lord Mandelson will sign the Philippines-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and the Philippines-UK Extradition Treaty.The DFA said that there are about 200,000 Filipinos in the United Kingdom, 70 percent of whom are in the Greater London area, and that Arroyo will meet with members of the Filipino community there. - SG