Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – With Makkah and Madinah, the two holy cities of Islam, located in Saudi Arabia, of course the country is the heart of the Islamic world.
Every year millions of Muslims around the world come to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj and umrah (minor hajj), with at least 2.5 million people entering the country during the Hajj 1440 Hijr/2019 season.
Meanwhile, Indonesia is always at the top of the list of the largest number of pilgrims in the world, reaching almost 10 percent of the total population or as many as 229,613 worshipers, due to its large Muslim population.
However in terms of the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, according to Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Esam A. Abid Athagafi, some Indonesian people still see that the kingdom is solely about hajj and umrah.
Yet, he said, besides being a center of worship for Muslims around the world to perform the fifth Pillar of Islam, Saudi Arabia has many other attractions.
“Saudi Arabia has a strong and very diverse culture. Saudi Arabia is a center of Islamic culture with an advanced economy and a strong political role,” Ambassador Esam said during a dialogue with a number of Indonesian journalists at his residence in Jakarta, Wednesday night (Nov 6).
He further said that the Saudi political strength is seen from the strength of the kingdom in maintaining the internal security and peace, while some of its surrounding countries are facing conflicts.
Saudi Arabia has even managed to facilitate an effort to make the Riyadh Agreement possible as a first step in reconciling the conflict in Yemen.
“The Riyadh agreement is expected to restore the legitimate Yemeni Government. The response of the world is very good. This is a positive Saudi effort that consistently pays attention to creating peace in the Middle East region,” the ambassador said.
On the other hand, Ambassador Esam acknowledged that the Saudi people only saw Indonesia as a country with the biggest number of Muslims in the world and as the sender of migrant workers.
“Indonesia is more than that,” the ambassador said.
He explained that Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are members of the G20, an international forum for governments and central bankers from 19 countries and the European Union.
“After King Salman’s visit to Indonesia and President Joko Widodo’s sojourn to Saudi Arabia, and the latter’s meeting with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the G20 meeting, many agreements were reached to improve the economies of both countries,” the ambassador explained.
He added that in the near future several Indonesian Ministers will visit Saudi Arabia to discuss concrete steps to realize the economic plans of the two countries.
“Indonesia is one of the focuses in Vision 2030 because Indonesia is very strategic and has a lot of potentials and opportunities,” Ambassador Esam said.
Ambassador Esam also stressed that relations between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are very close.
However, to introduce the Saudi Arabia further to the people of Indonesia and vice versa, the ambassador expressed hope that the mass media in Indonesia can convey the advantages possessed by the two countries.
“This will open a new dimension so that the two communities can get to know each other deeper and further,” he said.
To strengthen relations between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, Ambassador Esam said the door of the Saudi Embassy in Jakarta is always open to the Indonesian mass media.
Reporting by Indonesia Window