The following article was contributed by the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Seoul for publication by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.—Ed.
At the invitation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques – King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev paid a state visit to this country on August 17-18.
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev arrived in the sacred city of Medina, from which the program of the state visit to Saudi Arabia begins.
The leaders of Medina Province met the President of Uzbekistan at the Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport. After a short conversation, Shavkat Mirziyoyev left for Al-Masjid an-Nabawi – the Prophet’s Mosque, which is one of the main Muslim shrines.
In Medina Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. As is known, Medina has an important place in the history of Islam. Prophet Muhammad moved here in 622. The longest Surahs of the Holy Quran were sent down here.
Al-Masjid an-Nabawi is a huge mosque built around the house of the Prophet. The Messenger of Allah himself and his great companions Abu Bakr Siddiq and Omar Ibn Khattab are buried here. This room in high regard is called “Hujra al-Saada” (“Room of Happiness”).
Shavkat Mirziyoyev, having arrived at the mosque, entered Hujra al-Saada, sent a blessing on the Prophet Muhammad, and greeted him. He recited a dua asking for peace and prosperity for people of Uzbekistan.
The President of Uzbekistan also got acquainted with the Museum of the Life of the Prophet and Islamic Civilization.
The museum is dedicated to two large themes: the life and activity of the Prophet Muhammad, the development of Islamic culture and science, and their influence on the social and spiritual life. This is told through visual exhibits and technologies, in several foreign languages.
During the inspection of the museum, the President exchanged views with Saudi scholars on Islam, the ties that bind the Uzbek and Arab peoples.
Sheikh Dr. Nasser Al-Zahrani noted that the data presented in the museum are taken, in particular, from the books of our great ancestors Imam Bukhari and Imam Termizi. Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted that scientific centers named after these outstanding thinkers are opened in Uzbekistan, monuments of Islamic culture are carefully preserved, and invited Saudi scientists to visit Uzbekistan.
On August 17, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev arrived in the city of Jeddah as part of a state visit to Saudi Arabia.
Leaders of Makkah Province, the Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih and other officials met the President of Uzbekistan at the King Abdulaziz International Airport.
The official welcoming ceremony of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan took place at the Al-Salam Royal Palace in the city of Jeddah.
Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud met President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
A guard of honor was lined up in honor of the distinguished guest. The national anthems of the two countries were played.
Talks were held between the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.
The Leader of Uzbekistan conveyed sincere greetings and best wishes to the King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
The intensification of contacts at different levels was noted with satisfaction. Meetings of the Intergovernmental Commission and the Business Council are held regularly. Trade volumes are growing, joint ventures are being created.
At the same time, the two countries have a huge potential to bring relations to a qualitatively new level, primarily in the trade and economic sphere.
The President of Uzbekistan expressed confidence that his first state visit to Saudi Arabia would open wide opportunities for this.
The talks at the highest level demonstrated the commonality of views and aspirations. The State Program Saudi Vision 2030 successfully implemented in the country was highly appreciated. It is consonant with the goals and objectives of the Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan for the transformation of all spheres of society. The two countries pay much attention to the implementation of the principles of the digital and green economy.
The parties discussed issues of further enhancing mutually beneficial ties in the political, trade, economic, investment, cultural and humanitarian spheres.
The need for creating even more favorable conditions for building up contacts between business circles, increasing volumes, and diversifying the structure of mutual trade was noted. One of the important steps in this direction will be the introduction of a visa-free regime for entry into Uzbekistan for citizens of Saudi Arabia.
“I am sure that today’s historic meeting will serve as a powerful signal to enrich our cooperation and strengthen business ties. The businessmen of our countries are looking forward to the results of our talks” Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.
The President of Uzbekistan invited leading Saudi companies to take an active part in the privatization of commercial banks, large industrial facilities and infrastructure in Uzbekistan.
Mutual interest was expressed in building up partnerships in energy and petrochemistry. Currently, together with ACWA Power, the implementation of large energy projects worth $2 billion 600 million has begun. Partnership with Sabic in the chemical industry has promising prospects.
The issues of implementation of infrastructure projects in transport, water supply, development of electricity networks, social sphere in the regions of Uzbekistan with the participation of the Saudi Fund for Development were considered.
The successful holding of the next meeting of the Uzbekistan – Saudi Arabia Business Council was noted with satisfaction. Following the event, agreements and contracts were signed for more than $14 billion in the energy, chemical, electrical fields, infrastructure development, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and transport.
The main attention at the meeting was paid to strengthening cultural and humanitarian ties. In particular, today more than ten thousand students of Uzbekistan are studying Arabic, which is the official language of the United Nations.
Views were exchanged on the current issues of the international and regional agenda.
The talks showed the coincidence of the views and approaches of Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia in several aspects. The two countries invariably support each other in the international arena.
Readiness was expressed for establishing a dialogue in security, for consolidated assistance in strengthening peace in Afghanistan and restoring the economy of this country.
The President of Uzbekistan welcomed the receipt by Saudi Arabia of the status of a dialogue partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Following the talks, the signed documents were exchanged.
A Joint Statement was adopted on further enhancing the full-scale partnership between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
15 documents on cooperation were signed at the level of governments and ministries of the two countries in such areas as energy, customs, civil aviation, tourism, agriculture, healthcare, labor relations and others.
In honor of the visit of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, a state reception was given on behalf of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
On August 18, on the second day of the state visit to Saudi Arabia, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev met with the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Hissein Brahim Taha, in Jeddah.
The OIC is one of the largest international organizations in the world, uniting 57 countries with a population of 1.7 billion people.
Since Uzbekistan joined this Organization in 1996, trade-economic, scientific and cultural cooperation has been consistently developing.
At the meeting, it was noted that in the conditions of modern challenges, this authoritative international structure plays an important role in such aspects as the preservation of Islamic values, strengthening mutual understanding, political and economic ties between Muslim countries.
The level of cooperation between Uzbekistan and the OIC, as well as the prospects for enhancing bilateral relations on all current issues, were highly appreciated.
Hissein Brahim Taha emphasized that the Organization headed by him fully supports projects and programs initiated by Uzbekistan, which has an important place in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. He congratulated on the fact that the Ministers of Tourism of the OIC countries declared the city of Khiva the Tourism Capital of the Islamic World in 2024.
It was noted that Uzbekistan will continue to focus on the issues of interaction with the OIC in the development of education, science, and innovation, as well as climate change.
An agreement was reached on the exchange of experience in such important social areas as strengthening the family institution, increasing the role of women in public life and public administration, including in the OIC member countries.
Emphasizing the rich scientific and educational potential of Uzbekistan, the OIC’s interest in developing cooperation with the country in training and advanced training of young people, primarily developing member countries of the Organization was noted.
“Uzbekistan is the birthplace of great Islamic thinkers and scientists. Our Organization is interested in interaction with Uzbekistan in these areas”, the Secretary-General noted.
The main attention was paid to the issues of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. The possibilities of delivering humanitarian aid to this country through the development of a logistics center in Termez were noted. The activities of the educational Center for Afghan youth, which operates in this city, were highly appreciated.
Issues of solving global environmental problems, primarily in the Aral region, were discussed. The OIC Secretary-General noted that in March this year in Islamabad, the Foreign Ministers of the OIC member states supported the resolutions developed by Uzbekistan on the Aral Sea region and the connectivity of Central and South Asia.
“The drying up of the Aral Sea and Lake Chad are similar and require common cooperation to attract international society and financial institutions to solve these global environmental problems”, Hissein Brahim Taha noted.
An agreement was reached on the exchange of scientific and practical experience, coordination of common efforts with the active involvement of international experts to find solutions.
Following the meeting, the President of Uzbekistan invited the Secretary-General to visit Uzbekistan. Hissein Brahim Taha accepted the invitation with satisfaction.
The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, as part of the state visit to Saudi Arabia, received the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Muhammad Sulaiman Al Jasser.
The President of Uzbekistan once again congratulated the IsDB President on the successful holding of the 46th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Bank in September last year in Tashkent.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev expressed satisfaction with the dynamic development of the partnership with the IsDB, emphasizing the strategic role of the Bank in promoting the program of large-scale reforms in Uzbekistan.
In Uzbekistan, projects are being implemented together with the IsDB to modernize the housing and communal infrastructure, develop rural areas, healthcare, education, water management, entrepreneurship and others for $1.2 billion.
During the talks, issues of further enhancing collaboration were discussed. A program was adopted, providing for the Bank’s approval by the end of the year of funding for major projects and programs for $1.6 billion. As noted, this will become an important step towards bringing relations with the IsDB to a qualitatively new level and adopting a country cooperation program for 2023-2026.
The importance of the organization of the activities of a full-fledged representative office of the Bank in Tashkent, the introduction of new financing instruments was noted.
Confidence was expressed that the Economic Empowerment Fund for Uzbekistan will be able to make an important contribution to solving the problems of reducing poverty, improving the welfare of the population, and developing entrepreneurship, especially among women and youth.
Views were exchanged on issues of interaction in the implementation of important regional transport infrastructure projects, environmental programs in the Aral Sea region, as well as the provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and its socio-economic recovery with the support of a separate IsDB trust fund.
An agreement was reached to consider the dates for holding the next meeting of the Arab Coordination Group in Tashkent, headed by the Bank and including the leading financial institutions of the Islamic world.
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev met with the heads of leading companies and financial structures of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah.
The event was attended by the Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, as well as heads of about 20 largest companies and corporations of Saudi Arabia, such as ACWA Power, SABIC, Saudi National Bank, Al Rajhi Capital, Ma'aden, Petromin, Jamjoom Pharma, SEDCO, Salic, Albawani, Ajlan & Bros, Desert Technologies, and others.
Meetings with business community representatives during the foreign visits of the President of Uzbekistan are traditional. They allow determining the points of contact of interests, prospects for industrial and investment cooperation.
Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia have a huge potential to bring relations to a qualitatively new level, primarily in trade-economic sphere. In recent years, meetings of the Intergovernmental Commission and the Business Council have been held regularly. The trade turnover is growing. Joint ventures are being created.
The President noted that during the talks held yesterday with the Crown Prince, agreements were reached on a multiple increase in the volume of bilateral trade, full support for the initiatives of businesspeople and financing of investment projects.
All this creates great opportunities for business partnerships. In particular, Uzbekistan creates the most favorable conditions for entrepreneurs, expanding the presence of foreign capital.
The experience of several Saudi companies that have been successfully operating in Uzbekistan for several years was noted. So, at present, large energy projects worth $2 billion 600 million are being implemented together with ACWA Power.
The participants’ attention was drawn to the unprecedented results of the Uzbekistan – Saudi Arabia Business Council held on the eve of the visit. Following the event, agreements on the implementation of projects worth more than $14 billion were signed.
It was emphasized that there have been no breakthrough agreements in 30 years, and work on creating better conditions for Saudi partners will continue.
The President of Uzbekistan called on Saudi companies to work even more closely to develop and implement new projects.
At the meeting, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev revealed his vision for further building bilateral cooperation. Thus, Saudi business is invited to participate in the privatization processes of large banks, industrial and infrastructure facilities held in Uzbekistan. The sphere of green energy and the green economy was named one of the most promising for the implementation of joint projects.
The Uzbek side, as noted, is ready for active joint work on the construction of wind farms, the production of green hydrogen, the development of alternative energy, deepening the digitalization of industry and conducting joint scientific research.
The Leader of the country stressed Uzbekistan’s interest in enhancing partnerships in the digital economy, bio- and nanotechnology, software, innovation and artificial intelligence.
It was proposed to pay special attention to the implementation of projects for the production of food products, in healthcare and tourism.
With the participation of the Saudi Fund for Development, it is also planned to continue work on improving infrastructure projects in water and electricity supply.
Responding to the invitation to cooperate, the heads of companies, holdings and corporations of Saudi Arabia highly appreciated the conditions created in Uzbekistan for active business. In their speeches, they shared plans for implementing joint projects in the country, their vision of prospects for developing contacts and interaction in a wide range of areas.
Having carefully listened to the proposals and opinions of Saudi partners, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev stressed that strict control will be established over the implementation of all projects.
Responsible persons were instructed to adopt a comprehensive Action Plan indicating effective mechanisms and specific deadlines for implementation. Thus, in certain areas, the heads of relevant ministries and agencies will be personally responsible for the implementation of all agreements reached during the visit.
During his visit to Saudi Arabia, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited the holy city of Makkah and performed the rituals of Umrah.
In accordance with the principles of Islam, the Head of the state donned special Ihram clothing, prayed, recited the prayer of Talbiyah and entered the Masjid al-Haram.
The President of Uzbekistan was given the great honor to enter the Holy Ka`bah, which every Muslim dream of. Inside the shrine, he performed the prayer.
Then the Head of the state performed the Tawaf seven times, that is, a circumambulation around the Ka`bah, as well as walking between the Safa and Marwa hills seven times.
Together with Uzbekistan delegation members and ulama, duas were recited with a request for peace and prosperity in Uzbekistan, happiness and well-being for the people.