Thailand and Saudi Arabia have many things in common, strikingly, both countries have a well-respected Monarchy. And similarly, the Thai King and the Saudi King, are both getting quite old and frail. Both Kings, in fact, have been hospitalized.
About 20 years ago, a Thai working as a servant at the Saudi Arabia King’s palace stole a bag of jewelry, that included the much-loved by the Saudi King “Blue Diamond.” After that, Thai and Saudi Ariabia relations tanked, to the extent that rumor spread that the Blue Diamond was with you know who. And the situation got worse, with a Thai government, being Abhisit’s government, protecting a police, that was involved in the mysterious circumstances surrounding the case.
However, Thailand’s former prime minister, Thaksin, ousted by the 2006 coup, was residing in the Middle East, and eventually, made contact with wealth Saudi Arabia investors, who were planning to build a new city in Saudi Arabia. Thaksin became involved, are said that if Thai Saudi relations returned to normal, Thai construction firms and also Thai labor, could benefit from the building of the city.
Relations indeed got better between the two countries, with Yingluck, being Thaksin sister winning the general election, and having visited the Middle East. But what is the status of Thai Saudi relations, currently. Perhaps, the best place to ask, is the Saudi themselves.
The Saudi Gazette, a respected newspaper there, has an article titled, quote” “Thailand’s overtures to the Kingdom.” The article was written by Tariq A. Al-Maeena, and he says, quote:
- “THAILAND’S relationship with Saudi Arabia has been somewhat strained for more than two decades. But steps toward normalizing relations to previous levels seem to be taking hold. In September of this year, the first official bilateral talks were held for the first time in more than two decades between officials from the foreign ministries of both countries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York giving hope to many that relations are bound to ease. Thailand’s leadership has promised all along to resolve any remaining differences between the two countries.”
Tariq also noted that recently, the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Jeddah celebrated the occasion of His Majesty the King of Thailand’s 85th birthday. The event, which was attended by Saudis and diplomatic figures of various countries, featured an insight into the achievements of the much revered King of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
“Thai Consul General Chalee Sakolvari stressed the significance of the event which also included the celebration of the National Day of Thailand,” reported Tariq, adding that, “The Consul General concluded by acknowledging the support of Saudi Arabia toward Thai pilgrims in particular.
- “On this auspicious occasion, the Thai people in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would like to express their deep gratitude to His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, for patronizing, among other things, Haj for Muslims around the world, and for His Majesty’s guidance to the Saudi government’s supportive role in helping in various aspects of its affairs. This has made it possible for about 13,000 Thai Muslim pilgrims, which represent approximately 10 million people residing mostly in the southern part of Thailand, to come to Haj each year in order to realize their life-long dream of spiritual fulfillment. No words could describe our heartfelt gratitude for such a kind gesture.”
Tariq quoted the Thai council as saying, “We, the Thai people, look forward to strengthening the relationship between the two Kingdoms. May Allah the Almighty bless His Majesty King Abdullah with a speedy recovery and soundness of health and spirit.”
Tariq concluded, quote: “Coming from a citizen of the only country in Southeast Asia that has not been occupied by a Western colonial power, such words did indeed sound sincere. Many Saudis welcome such overtures and would agree with the honorable Consul General that it is time that relations were further strengthened between the two countries.” Tariq can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Follow him on Twitter: @talmaeena
- How important is Saudi Arabia? Well, the Wikipedia has the following on Saudi’s economy:
Saudi Arabia’s command economy is petroleum-based; roughly 75% of budget revenues and 90% of export earnings come from the oil industry. The oil industry comprises about 45% of Saudi Arabia’s nominal gross domestic product, compared with 40% from the private sector (see below). Saudi Arabia officially has about 260 billion barrels (4.1×1010 m3) of oil reserves, comprising about one-fifth of the world’s proven total petroleum reserves.
The government is attempting to promote growth in the private sector by privatizing industries such as power and telecommunications. Saudi Arabia announced plans to begin privatizing the electricity companies in 1999, which followed the ongoing privatization of the telecommunications company. Shortages of water and rapid population growth may constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.
In the 1990s, Saudi Arabia experienced a significant contraction of oil revenues combined with a high rate of population growth. Per capita income fell from a high of $11,700 at the height of the oil boom in 1981 to $6,300 in 1998. Increases in oil prices since 2000 have helped boost per capita GDP to $17,000 in 2007 dollars, or about $7,400 adjusted for inflation. Taking into account the impact of the real oil price changes on the Kingdom’s real gross domestic income, the real command-basis GDP was computed to be 330.381 billion 1999 USD in 2010.
Oil price increases of 2008–2009 have triggered a second oil boom, pushing Saudi Arabia’s budget surplus to $28 billion (110SR billion) in 2005. Tadawul (the Saudi stock market index) finished 2004 with a massive 76.23% to close at 4437.58 points. Market capitalization was up 110.14% from a year earlier to stand at $157.3 billion (589.93SR billion), which makes it the biggest stock market in the Middle East.
OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) limits its members’ oil production based on their “proven reserves.” The higher their reserves, the more OPEC allows them to produce. Saudi Arabia’s published reserves have shown little change since 1980, with the main exception being an increase of about 100 billion barrels (1.6×1010 m3) between 1987 and 1988. Matthew Simmons has suggested that Saudi Arabia is greatly exaggerating its reserves and may soon show production declines (see peak oil).
Saudi Arabia is one of only a few fast-growing countries in the world with a relatively high per capita income of $24,200 (2010). Saudi Arabia will be launching six “economic cities” (e.g. King Abdullah Economic City) which are planned to be completed by 2020. These six new industrialized cities are intended to diversify the economy of Saudi Arabia, and are expected to increase the per capita income. The King of Saudi Arabia has announced that the per capita income is forecast to rise from $15,000 in 2006 to $33,500 in 2020. The cities will be spread around Saudi Arabia to promote diversification for each region and their economy, and the cities are projected to contribute $150 billion to the GDP.
- The Making of Kings in Saudi Arabia (voanews.com)
- Healthcare, Regulatory & Reimbursement Landscape in Netherlands, UAE, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia (prweb.com)
- Tracking Pakistan’s nukes to Saudi Arabia? (lynleahz.com)
- Kabul’s $100m mosque: a sign of a heavyweight battle for post-2014 Afghanistan | Catriona Luke (guardian.co.uk)
- Diamonds are a President’s Best Friend? Saudi King showers U.S. with gifts (whiteflash.com)
- Obama has plans announced for sale of planes to Saudi Arabia (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- Protesters Detained in Saudi Arabia (nytimes.com)
- Saudi Arabia To Build Massive Islamic Center In Kabul (rferl.org)
- Automotive Business: Jaguar Land Rover reveals plans for Saudi Arabia plant (birminghampost.net)
- Will Saudi Arabia Ever Change? (nybooks.com)