Bangladesh eyes big investment deals as Saudi FM arrives in Dhaka

Bangladesh was hopeful of signing a number of major investment deals with Saudi Arabia during a two-day visit to Dhaka by the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, officials said on Tuesday.

The prince flew into the Bangladeshi capital on Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled to meet the country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday and lay the foundation stone for the Arabic Language Institute of the Islamic Arabic University in Dhaka.

Sirazul Islam, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, said projects worth billions of dollars would be discussed during Prince Faisal’s trip.

“Most of the Saudi Investment proposals are involving the public sector. Further investments from Saudi Arabia will depend mostly on our success of handling the investment proposals in the pipeline,” Islam added.

“At the moment we can’t exactly predict the volume of investment as it depends on the success of discussions. But we hope it will be billions (of dollars) and there will be a whole gamut of discussions.”

The projects are related to oil refineries, gas transmission, fertilizer production, aviation, port management, construction, and hospitality.

Islam said that among the Saudi companies that had expressed interest in investing in Bangladesh were oil giant Aramco, transformer producer Engineering Dimensions, utility provider ACWA Power, industrial conglomerate Al-Fanar Group, and Al-Hokair Group, one of the largest entertainment and hospitality firms in the Middle East.

The Bangladesh Foreign Ministry’s director general for West Asia, Iqbal Hussain, told Arab News that the Bangladeshi government would be seeking to strengthen its ties with the Kingdom during the prince’s visit.

“We are looking for stronger political and investment ties with the Kingdom as both countries have very good bilateral relationships,” he said, adding that Bangladesh was preparing more than 100 special economic zones for potential investors. “Seeking investment from the Kingdom will be one of our top issues as there is an ongoing campaign to attract more and more foreign investment in the country.”

Dhaka was also hopeful of increasing the number of migrant workers it sends to Saudi Arabia, which is Bangladesh’s main labor market and already hosts more than 2.5 million Bangladeshi expats.

Migrant workers are the second-largest contributor of Bangladesh’s foreign remittances, after the garment sector.

“Saudi Arabia is the largest market for Bangladeshi migrants,” Hussain said. “There is demand for Bangladeshi migrants in the Kingdom and we are ready to export more workers in all skilled and unskilled categories.”