Two-way job, tourism gains for Thai-Saudi relations

Two-way job, tourism gains for Thai-Saudi relations

People emerge from the arrival hall at Suvarnabhumi airport after disembarking from a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, SV846, from Jeddah via Riyadh early on Feb 28. It was the first direct commercial flight from Saudi Arabia in 32 years, following the recent normalisation of diplomatic ties. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
People emerge from the arrival hall at Suvarnabhumi airport after disembarking from a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, SV846, from Jeddah via Riyadh early on Feb 28. It was the first direct commercial flight from Saudi Arabia in 32 years, following the recent normalisation of diplomatic ties. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

More job seekers heading to Saudi Arabia as well as more tourists in both directions are on the cards following the normalisation of bilateral ties, according to the Labour Ministry.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said labour cooperation between the two kingdoms has strengthened since the visit to Saudi Arabia by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the end of January, which resulted in the full restoration of diplomatic relations after a 30-year hiatus. The ministry is pushing for an agreement to export labour to Saudi Arabia to be finalised as soon as possible, the minister added.

There has been further progress in reaching an agreement since Gen Prayut's visit to Riyadh, with key details of the cooperation already settled.

Mr Suchart said Adnan Abdullah M Alnuim, deputy minister for international affairs, visited Thailand on Tuesday. Surachai Chaitrakulthong, assistant minister to the Labour Ministry, was on hand to welcome the delegation to Bangkok. Mr Surachai said the visit by the Saudi deputy minister has further strengthened ties between the countries' labour sectors.

Mr Surachai said he was confident that labour exports to Saudi Arabia will begin in due course. Details of the matter have been fleshed out. All that remains is signing a bilateral labour agreement, which is expected to occur soon, he said.

The assistant minister said more than 1,000 people have registered online with the Department of Employment to apply for jobs in Saudi Arabia.

The department is vetting job seekers' qualifications and testing their labour skills, while also trying to match work sought with available employment in the Saudi job market.

Mr Suchart is due to travel to Saudi Arabia for an official visit on March 28 when he will tour workplaces and businesses which have the potential to hire Thai workers.

Meanwhile, along with lifting restrictions on its own citizens travelling to Thailand, Saudi Arabia now allows Thais to visit the Middle Eastern country for leisure, according to government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.

Riyadh has also cancelled its ban on the import of poultry and poultry products from Thailand, a move which has opened up a significant trade opportunity for Thai businesses, Mr Thanakorn said.

He said Gen Prayut was pleased to hear that Saudi Arabia lifted its leisure visa ban on Thais and was happy that Saudis can now travel to Thailand.

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