Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is set to welcome Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud on his four-day state visit to Malaysia. (File pix)

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is set to welcome Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud on his four-day state visit to Malaysia.

Najib, in a statement today, said Malaysia and Saudi Arabia shared strong, brotherly ties, and that they were honoured that King Salman, who will be accompanied by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Salman and various other dignitaries, has chosen Malaysia for his first visit to an Islamic country in the region, and the first to Southeast Asia as well, since ascending the throne.

“The spiritual ties between our two countries date back centuries. For Muslim Malaysians, Saudi Arabia as the land of the Two Holy Mosques is the holiest of places and performing the Haj is both a sacred duty and the highlight of a lifetime.

“Our two countries are also bound together by strong trading links and ever increasing people-to-people exchanges,” he said.

Najib said the bilateral trade between Saudi Arabia and Malaysia has been on a strong upward trajectory in recent years, increasing by 27.8 per cent in 2016 alone, to a total of RM13.99 billion.

“Today, Saudi Arabia is one of Malaysia’s largest trading partners,” he said.

Najib further stated that Saudi Arabian investment in Malaysia is expected to create thousands of job, and that the government was proud that Malaysian firms have been chosen to undertake projects at some of the most prestigious locations in Saudi Arabia. “This has included operating and maintaining the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro Southern Line in Makkah – a shuttle train exclusively for pilgrims – and working on the Jamarat Bridge and surrounding area in Mina.

“It is also a matter of pride for us that a Malaysian was part of the team that designed the magnificent Makkah Royal Hotel Clock Tower that faces the Masjid al-Haram,” he said.

During King Salman’s visit, Najib said they will be signing a number of new agreements and memorandums of understanding.

“One of these will involve two of the largest state-owned companies, Saudi Aramco and PETRONAS.

“These agreements will benefit our countries and our people,” he said.

The warmth between both countries, Najib noted, was reflected by the fact that Malaysia welcomed over 100,000 visitors from Saudi Arabia last year, which is a record high, while students from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia benefitted from studying in each other’s countries.