Saudi Arabia has expressed willingness to recruit some 5 lakh Bangladeshis to meet its demand for workers in various sectors.
“We want to recruit 5 lakh more workforce from Bangladesh,” Saudi Minister for Labour Mofarrej Al-Haqbani said when he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Royal Conference Palace here on Sunday night.
PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.
The premier is now in Saudi Arabia on a five-day official visit at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
The Saudi minister said the Bangladeshis, including some 42,000 female domestic helps, were working in the Arab country with a good reputation.
Bangladeshi workers started working in Saudi Arabia in 1976. The kingdom has now over 2 million Bangladeshis, making it the largest destination for Bangladeshi manpower.
The two leaders agreed to stamp out the influence of middlemen in recruiting manpower to cut recruitment costs.
Mofarrej said, “Apart from recruiting workers, our goal is to open recruitment of doctors, teachers and engineers from Bangladesh.”
About sending female domestic helps from Bangladesh, Hasina said her government introduced a short-term training course for the house helps which would be turned into a long-term one.
She mentioned that the government also introduced online registration of workers to make the recruitment process easier.
Meanwhile, Royal Court Adviser Yasir Al Rumayyan called on the PM at the same venue.
During the meeting, the PM hoped that more investment would come from the kingdom in various sectors of Bangladesh. “Saudi Arabia can invest in Bangladesh in coal-based power generation projects alongside improving the circular road, rail and waterways around the capital,” she said.
She also suggested making more effective the Bangladesh-Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission for the mutual benefits of the two countries.
Highly appreciating Saudi King Salman's pragmatic steps to counter terrorism, Hasina said Islam is a religion of peace. “If there was any problem among the Muslim countries, it can be resolved through a dialogue.”
Referring to the Vision-2030 of Saudi Arabia, the PM said her government had earlier set the Vision-2021 and has been working tirelessly to implement the goal.
The adviser said although the KSA used to make its 95 percent investment within the country, it was working on a new strategy to expand investment internationally.
ASSISTANT MINISTER MEETS PM
Earlier, Saudi Assistant Minister for Defence Md Abdullah Alayser called on the premier at the Royal Conference Palace.
During the meeting, the Saudi assistant minister underscored the need for strengthening defence cooperation between the two countries.
Hasina said her government has been working to build strong armed forces and reiterated her government's “zero tolerance” policy towards terrorism.
She said Bangladesh Army has a special construction battalion. She offered its assistance to the Saudi armed forces in their different construction projects. Besides, she said Bangladesh Army has a new engineering unit.
Chief of Saudi Intelligence Khalid bin Ali Humaidan also met the PM at the same venue.
During the meeting, Khalid described Bangladesh as a very important Muslim nation, saying Jeddah wanted to further strengthen its relations with Dhaka.
Hasina stressed the importance of sharing information on terrorism between the intelligence agencies of the two countries.
The Saudi official said terrorism has polluted the religion. “We want to regain the honour of the Muslim Ummah by curbing terrorism,” he added.
Hasina said religion has earned a bad name for the misdeeds of a handful of people. “We must clear it and convince people about the true spirit of Islam...different people have different views, but we should have faith in Allah.”