“We confirm that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands with all its might behind the Islamic causes in general and we are fully ready for assistance and cooperation with your sisterly country as regards any effort or movement that serves Muslims’ issues,” Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud said from Malaysia on Monday.
It was the first visit to Malaysia by a Saudi king in over a decade, according to Al-Arabiya, and it served as the launch for a planned month-long tour of Asia that will also include Brunei, Japan, China, the Maldives, and Jordan. His stay in the Maldives has been described as a “holiday” that will occupy every room in three different resort hotels.
Reuters reports that King Salman is traveling with a delegation of 600 people, plus 459 metric tons of luggage and two Mercedes-Benz limousines. Among other tasks, this huge entourage will help seal a deal between the national oil firms of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia for the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development Project (RAPID), which has been languishing for some time due to “weak global oil prices.”
Also, the two countries have been distracted by a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal that looped in both the Saudi royal family and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Both of those parties have denied any wrongdoing in the case.
The Prime Minister declared that renewed activity on the RAPID project, plus other Saudi investments, “is expected to create thousands of jobs.”
According to the Associated Press, the RAPID oil processing hub will bring $7 billion in Saudi investments, blending with $20 billion in Malaysian capital. The funds will create “a refinery with the capacity to churn out 300,000 barrels of oil a day and a petrochemical complex with a production capacity of 7.7 million metric tons.”
Malay Mail Online quotes Najib describing Saudi-Malaysian relations as sitting at an “all-time high,” a sentiment echoed by King Salman.
“I am confident that this historic visit of King Salman will cement as well as put our relations on a strong trajectory now and in future,” said Najib.
“King Salman was most comfortable with Malaysia’s stand on international issues, especially on measures to explain the authentic Islam and fight any form of terrorism such as Islamic State,” he added. To that end, he said Saudi Arabia would establish a “King Salman Center for Global Peace” in Malaysia.
“Najib also said that he and King Salman also discussed developments of current issues in the Middle East and well as the relationship between Islamic countries and the major powers,” reports Malay Mail Online.
The Associated Press hints that one purpose of the King’s Asia tour is to attract investors as Saudi Arabia “diversifies its economy, including its upcoming initial public offering of part of state oil giant Saudi Aramco.”