–President, Cabinet members engage Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State, other senior officials
ENHANCED bilateral co-operation between Guyana and Saudi Arabia is anticipated, following an engagement between local officials who were led by President Dr. Irfaan Ali and a high-level team from the Middle Eastern nation led by the country’s Minister of State, Foreign Affairs and Member of the Saudi Arabia Council of Ministers, Adel Ahmed al-Jubeir.
Al-Jubeir and his delegation arrived in Guyana on Saturday, and joined President Ali and his team for a working lunch at State House.
The visiting delegation from Saudia Arabia included Counsellor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norah Mohammed Al Bassam; First Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Badr Abdullah Al Muaiqil; Secondary Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Naif Abdulaziz Alnuwaiser and three others.
President Ali was accompanied by Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips; Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo; Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Hugh Todd.
Guyana established formal diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on February 22, 2012.
It was reported recently that considering Guyana’s positive international profile, the country is gearing up to accommodate an influx of world leaders and international business moguls seeking to strengthen bilateral relations and conduct physical evaluations of potential investment opportunities.
Guyana was an area of “high focus” for many countries, private sector groups, and major financial institutions at the 76th United Nations’ General Assembly, last year.
In outlining the outcome of the conference, President Ali had said that he and his team were able to engage a number of world leaders on the opportunities available in Guyana and that the response has since been “enormous.”
“Our country is playing on a different stage. Our country is getting a different level of attention. Our country is being focused on, and as leaders, we have to ensure that we give clear clarity as to where the country is going; strong leadership is required,” Dr. Ali had said.
He told reporters that out of the “sideline” engagements alone, approximately seven other delegations have given their commitments to visit. Several of those leaders have since visited.
“We also had very, very good meetings with various representatives of the Middle East; from Prime Ministers to Prince and so on, and they too are working on delegations to come to Guyana, and for us to have a further engagement with them in a wide cross section of economic opportunities,” Dr. Ali had related.
He said too that the evaluations of available opportunities will not be limited to the country’s burgeoning oil and gas sector.
The Head of State admitted that even though Guyana’s petroleum prospects have been initially capturing the interest of investors, many were intrigued about other areas of investments, once properly apprised.
“We have spoken to many of these sophisticated investors about the opportunities in food security, agriculture, the services industry, manufacturing, and of course, the diversification of our energy sector,” Dr. Ali posited.
The President said that even though investors are eager to come to Guyana now, that had not been the initial case, since many groups had concerns related to Guyana’s democratic stability.
“This is a key question from all those who we engaged; they want to know that the country is built on a foundation of democracy, stability [and] the rule of law,” Dr. Ali related.
Those concerns could be attributed to the country’s protracted elections debacle, which featured a purported attempt to thwart the outcome of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
“From all our engagements, it is clear that persons were following the five months, and of course, it raises questions in terms of the sustainability of a country, when you have democracy threatened the way it was threatened,” Dr. Ali related.
Fortunately, President Ali said that his team was successful in reassuring the potential investors and leaders of Guyana’s commitment to democracy.
To this end, he said: “We had to repair a lot of damage; we had to answer a lot of questions in relation to that [the threat on democracy], but we are very happy that we had the opportunity to do so, and we are able to present Guyana as a strong, emerging market, not only for oil and gas, but for the various opportunities that are coming ahead.”