It was formally announced – President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar this coming April 10-16.
According to Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary, Hjayceelyn Quintana, the President will go on a state visit to three countries in the Middle East.
“The President’s trip to the Middle East, whose objectives may be summarized by the words ‘people, progress and partnerships,’ aims to strengthen efforts for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare of the more than 1 million of our people working in those three countries, invite investors to the Philippines and usher in progress here at home, and to forge stronger partnerships by elevating our political and economic cooperation with these countries to new heights,” said Quintana.
She also added that despite the current economic crisis in Gulf States and Middle East countries, they still remain allies for the country’s economic and political growth. Middle East is nonetheless, the top destination of OFWs looking for a greener pasture. According to Quintana, about 28 percent of the total amount of remittances sent last 2016 came from Middle East. This is about USD 7.6 billion in totality.
On April 10-12, the President Duterte will visit Riyadh and will meet His Majesty, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud.
On April 12-14, his second stop will be in Bahrain where he will meet His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Lastly, on April 14-16, he will be in Doha to meet with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
“He will discuss with these leaders matters relevant to the welfare and dignity of the Filipinos living in their countries as well as explore avenues for economic and political cooperation,” said Quintana.
The President will oversee the signing of agreements related to labor, agriculture, culture, political bilateral consultations, air and health services.
Aside from the economic cooperation, the President will also try to tackle partnerships in tourism development, energy security, halal food security and Islamic finance. The President is specifically keen on the security partnership, to help combat terrorism and illegal drugs.
“He will also invite these countries to invest particularly in Mindanao as a way of lifting Mindanao out of both poverty and conflict,” Quintana said.
While in Saudi, Bahrain and Doha, the President is expected to visit the Filipino communities there.
“The President hopes that through the stronger partnerships he will forge during this visit, he can tap into the over 500 billion US dollars combined investment capital of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the State of Qatar and bring home more investments and jobs for our people,” she added.