Nepal-Saudi Bilateral Relations
Nepal and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia established their diplomatic relations on March 15, 1977. Immediately, Nepal opened its Embassy in Saudi Arabia in 1978 at the level of Charge d’Affaires. Ever, since the establishment of diplomatic relations, Nepal and Saudi Arabia have been enjoying best of relations with each other. Bilateral relations have continued to be strengthened on the basis of the five principles of peaceful co-existence, friendship and cooperation. Both the nations have expressed avowed commitments and loyalty to the principles of the United Nations Charter and work together in the United Nations as well as other international fora for the common benefit of the humankind.
Nepal has made a request to the Saudi government to open its Embassy in Nepal at the earliest with a view to expanding the bilateral relations to boost cooperation in trade, investment, and other development fronts as well as to facilitate the flow of Nepalese workers willing to take up employment in Saudi Arabia. The establishment of the Embassy will also greatly facilitate the proper management of Hajj pilgrimage by Nepalese Muslims.
Major Bilateral Visits
Visits from Nepal
- Former king Gyanendra visited Saudi Arabia on an official visit in 1983 in his capacity as prince.
- Late king Birendra and late queen Aishwarya also paid a visit to Saudi Arabia in 1983.
- The then Minister for Labour Mr. Bal Bahadur K.C. also paid an official visit to Saudi Arabia in 1999.
- After the killing of 12 Nepalese nationals by terrorists in Iraq, a high level delegation headed by then Minister for Information and Communication Dr. Mohmad Mohsin visited Saudi Arabia in 2004. The delegation included then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat and then Minister of State for Labour and Transport Management Mr. Urba Dutt Pant.
- Representing the then king, former crown prince Paras visited Riyadh to express condolences on the sad demise of His Majesty King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud in August, 2005.
- High-level visits between the two countries have greatly contributed in enhancing the relations between the two countries.
Visits From Saudi Arabia
- His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud visited Nepal in November 2010
- Saudi High Level delegation arrived in Kathmandu on 24 December 2011 for their three days official visit
Nepal had received loan assistance from the Saudi Fund for Development for several hydroelectric projects including Marsyngndi Project. There was also a substantial contribution from Saudi Fund for Development in the construction of East-West Highway of Nepal. Presently there is Saudi cooperation in Bagmati I & II Irrigation Project.
Economic cooperation between the two countries began in 1978 when Nepal opened its Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The economic cooperation extended by the Saudi Government has been primarily focused towards upliftment of Muslim community, agricultural development and emergency assistance.
Trade and Business
A great prospect of economic cooperation exists between the two countries. Trade, Commerce and promotion of tourism are yet to be explored and tapped. Saudi Arabia is a country with vast oil and mineral resources and Nepal can explore possible avenues for cooperation in this sector. The trade between Nepal and Saudi Arabia has remained in favor of Saudi Arabia. Nepal exported items of around NRs. 6.6 million in the period of 2010/11 (source: TEPC). The major export items included handbags, carpet, CD cassette, and woolen shawls. At the same period, Nepal imported items of around NRs 411 million. Major imported items were plastics, mineral fuels and oils, Aluminium, floor covering textile and copper. The trade deficit stood at around NRs 405 million. Nepal should explore the ways and means to bridge the gap by way of increasing its export to Saudi Arabia.
Tourism can be one of the potential areas in the development of Nepal-Saudi Arabia relations. Nepal can become a destination for the Saudi local population who visit abroad during the summer. There is a need for increasing direct flights to Nepal keeping in view the increasing traffic. Similarly, Nepal has tremendous scope for eco-tourism. Family tourism for a longer duration is another way to attract the Saudis because of its climate.
Saudi Arabia has been importing agricultural consumable food items from the different countries to fulfill the demand of the markets. Production and export of the organic agricultural products can be one of the potential areas in the development of Nepal-Saudi Arabia relations. The fertile land and suitable climate for the organic products in Nepal could be one of the attractive areas of joint venture for the Saudi Investors. The potential Saudi investment in this sector basically could be mobilized in large scale for the scientific and mass production to fulfill the demand of the Saudi markets
Every year a large number of people from the Muslim Community pay a visit to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina to perform Hajj pilgrimage. Around 900 pilgrims visited these places this year. The Government of Nepal has been providing all possible assistance to the Community so that Nepalese Muslims could perform their time-honoured pilgrimage without any hindrance. The support and cooperation received from the Saudi Government to Nepalese pilgrims is also noteworthy and has greatly contributed in further cementing the bonds of friendly relations existing between the two countries and the people. As the number of Hajj pilgrims is expected to grow considerably in the coming years, a pragmatic approach has to be in place in coordination with the Saudi authorities to make the issue of pilgrimage hassle-free and less burdensome to the Government.
- MOU on Consultation Mechanism between Foreign Ministries of the two countries
- Labour Agreement
People to people relations have grown steadily after the arrival of Nepalese labourers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia just a decade ago. It is estimated that the number of Nepalese currently working in Saudi Arabia is well above 500,000. Despite coming from a very starkly different social, geographical and religious as well as cultural environment, Nepalese have been welcomed by the Saudi people very much due to their dedication to work, loyalty, sincerity and integrity. The prospect of employment in Saudi Arabia is ever growing due to ongoing development works being undertaken by the Saudi Government. However, there are also complex issues related to the proper management of the various problems faced by the Nepalese expatriates– ranging from malpractices in recruitment at home to exploitation at the destination country for lack of appropriate and swift legal protection to foreign workers. The plight of female workers, particularly, Housemaids is of utmost concern requiring effective monitoring and coordination among all stakeholders, both within the country and abroad.
13 January 2012