DHAKA: Saudi Arabia is looking forward to having more Bangladeshis both in its skilled workforce and investment ecosystem, Riyadh’s envoy to Dhaka told Arab News ahead of an upcoming visit of Bangladesh business leaders to the Kingdom.

Bangladeshis are the biggest expat worker community in Saudi Arabia.

Ambassador Essa Al-Duhailan estimated that 2.8 million of them were currently employed in the Kingdom and were recognized for being efficient and hard-working.

“Everywhere you go in Saudi Arabia, you will see a Bangladeshi … On many occasions, they thank Saudi Arabia and the (Saudi) people for helping them to secure their future, their businesses. Many of them are loyal to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“Their efforts are acknowledged by the government and people of Saudi Arabia. They are participating in the development of Saudi Arabia.”

As megaprojects such as NEOM or the developments of the Red Sea coast were underway in the Kingdom, they opened even more opportunities, especially for professionals.

“We have digital platforms, we have new infrastructure, we have megaprojects. These megaprojects and new ways of dealing with investments need skilled workers … We welcome all kinds of professionals to go to work in Saudi Arabia in different sectors,” the ambassador added.

“I urge the relevant authorities, and the Bangladeshis themselves, to train themselves and this will benefit the two countries. We will get the skilled workers and Bangladesh will also invest in the Bangladeshi citizens.”

While Saudi Arabia is already one of Bangladesh’s main sources of remittance inflows, the salaries of professionals in the Kingdom are significantly higher than of semi-skilled workers.

When Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh signed the Workers’ Recruitment and Skill Verification Program deal earlier this year, Al-Duhailan forecast that those employed under the scheme would earn at least twice more.

The same sectors that require workers are now also open to Bangladeshi businesses, which will be facilitated by Saudi authorities in entering the market and forming partnerships.

Opportunities for business cooperation have been on the rise since March, when a delegation led by Saudi Commerce Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi attended the Bangladesh Business Summit 2023 on the invitation of the Bangladeshi government and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry — the country’s apex commerce body.

Besides signing several investment agreements, under which Saudi Arabia entered Bangladesh’s energy, seaport, and agriculture industries, during the visit the Saudi and Bangladeshi chambers of commerce established a joint council to navigate bilateral business ties.

A delegation comprising top Bangladeshi business leaders is soon expected in the Kingdom.

“Inshallah, within this month or August, a delegation with more than 60 businessmen will visit Saudi Arabia to meet their counterparts … to meet the chamber of commerce leaders in Saudi Arabia and to explore the opportunities in the market there,” Al-Duhailan said.

“There are huge scopes of opportunities in Saudi Arabia. Just name any field, and you can invest there. They can invest there in Saudi Arabia in the field of infrastructure, building construction, agriculture, textile, fishing, and farms.

“Also, in factories like plastic, carpentry, and many others. You just name any field, and they can go. I just want them to go and explore the market.”

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