By Gatot Abdullah Mansyur (Indonesia’s CG for Saudi Arabia) for GNFI and ArabNews

On the auspicious occasion of the commemoration of the 64th Independence Day of the Republic of Indonesia, I wish to extend my heartiest felicitation to the Indonesian community living in Western region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Aug. 17 reminds us of the struggle and sacrifices of our forefathers for our independence. This day demands us to stand together as a nation, united to face all kinds of challenges with courage and fortitude.

Alhamdulillah, our sound, far-sighted, well-thought and consistent policies and reforms over the last five years have resulted in economic stability. Our country experienced four percent economic growth in the second quarter of this year and became one of the countries in Asia, along with China and India, whose growth remains positive despite the global economic crisis.

As the most populous Muslim country, we enjoy cordial relationship with Saudi Arabia. These ties have been further strengthened by the eternal bond of religion, solidarity, culture and presence of a large number on Indonesians.

Economic ties between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have seen a steady growth. Total value of Indonesian export to Saudi Arabia and vice versa has increased significantly. To boost international trade, the 24th Trade Expo Indonesia 2009 is set to open on Oct. 28-Nov. 1, 2009 in Kemayoran, Indonesia. This is a good opportunity for Saudi businessmen and traders to know all about Indonesian export products ranging from industrial, mining, agricultural to craft sectors.

Tourism sector also experienced a significant growth. In 2008 the number of Saudi tourists reached 38,291 or increased by 19.8 percent compared to 31,955 in 2007.

The number of tourist arrivals in Indonesia in the first half of 2009 rose by 2.61 percent to 2.97 million compared to the same period of the previous year, and it is expected that the number of Saudi tourists will increase this year to 40,000. I believe the recent bombings at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels have not influenced the number of foreign tourists coming to Indonesia.

In this regard, I call all tourist stakeholders in the Kingdom to attend the second Indonesia Tourism and Travel Fair (ITTF) that will be held from Oct. 2-4 and the Tourism Indonesia Mart Expo 2009 on Oct. 16-19 hosted by West Nusa Tenggara Regional Province, Lombok-Sumbawa Tourism Promotion Board. Both these great travel events showcase world’s fastest-growing tourism area under one roof with quality products aimed at every market.

In humanitarian sector, the Kingdom has disbursed many forms of assistance to Indonesian communities. The real assistance we saw was during the time of tsunami and also during the post-quake rehabilitation and reconstruction period.

The Kingdom has funded $45 million worth of projects including post-tsunami and earthquake reconstruction projects worth $12.88 million that was handed over recently to the government of Aceh.

On this occasion on behalf of the people of Indonesia, I would like to convey my highest appreciation for the support and assistance in all terms extended by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Crown Prince Sultan, the government and the brotherly people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Objectively, the Indonesian community here has made great contribution to the economic development of both Indonesia and the host country. Indonesian expatriates are the real national envoys and therefore are expected to show the nation’s good image and reputation to the international community especially in Saudi Arabia. At this juncture I would like to take this opportunity, to call upon the Indonesian community living in Western region to abide by the laws of the host country, work with more enthusiasm, honesty, dedication and portray the true image of Indonesia. As Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia, I will also endeavor my best in furthering the existing brotherly relations between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia

May Allah the Almighty bestow His blessing upon all of us.