Bahrain to open embassy in Malaysia
Manama, January 24, 2009
Diplomatic relations between Bahrain and Malaysia are about to be significantly enhanced, with the opening of a new embassy in Kuala Lumpur and a raft of new agreements on trade and education.
In addition to the new Bahrain Embassy in Malaysia, the two countries have agreed to activate a Joint Commission Meeting initiated in 2001, Malaysian Ambassador Dato' Syed Sultan Idris told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, on Friday.
There are also plans to launch a Bahraini Malaysian Friendship Society and sign a MoU on education, while further co-operation between Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in both countries is also on the cards.
Meanwhile, officials are understood to be working on a request by Malaysia for a Free Trade Agreement with the GCC.
Talks on strengthening ties between Bahrain and Malaysia took place during a two-day visit by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, which concluded on Monday.
During his visit he met Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and other senior government officials.
Idris said one outcome of the visit was an agreement to activate a Joint Commission Meeting initiated in 2001 to improve bilateral ties. "We had a joint commission signed in 2001 and there was a need to activate it," said Idris.
"During the meeting both parties agreed to activate the joint commission. It's a vehicle for the two countries to enhance bilateral relations in the political and economic fields."
"Both sides reviewed ways to enhance relations and agreed to have more visits at the higher level in the future and we can see this happening in the coming months."
"We have set the pace to get things moving and there will be a string of activities happening to boost bilateral relations."
Shaikh Khalifa is now due to visit Malaysia, but Idris could not confirm reports that would take place in March.
Idris added the MoU on education, requested by Malaysia, could be finalised before that visit.
He also hoped the new Bahraini Malaysian Friendship Society would be launched soon to improve economic and cultural ties, among others.
"We already have a Malaysian Club which is just for the Malaysian community, but the society would be for the Malaysian community who are interested in the society and for Bahrainis interested in Malaysia and others such as the business community," he said.
Talks also focused on collaboration in the Islamic finance and banking sector, while both countries are planning to organise trade delegations to follow on from a business forum held at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa on Monday.
Malaysian firms are already represented in Bahrain and have been involved in major projects including the building of the Bahrain International Circuit, the Bahrain City Centre and various infrastructure projects, such as the expansion of the Sitra Causeway.
Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at BD72.1 million ($191 million) between January and October 2007, but dropped to BD62.3 million ($165 million) during the same period last year.
The ambassador is hoping for an upturn in those figures, especially since the number of Bahraini tourists visiting Malaysia is increasing - with 7,200 visiting Malaysia between January and November.
He is now pushing for more Gulf Air flights to Malaysia and revealed that interest had been shown in Malaysian flights to Bahrain.
Meanwhile, his wife Datin Zarinah Hussin will hold a women's only cultural event in April. It will include a batik fashion show and bazaar and some of the proceeds will go to charity.-TradeArabia News Service