Manila seeks Saudi investment in tourism projects

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The Philippines is trying to sell Saudi businessmen on investing in the development of its infrastructure, especially in projects related to tourism.

Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago presented his case in a meeting at the Asharqia Chamber yesterday. He invited Saudi businessmen to consider investments in hotels, motels, resorts and recreational facilities in the Philippines. Tago was leading a trade delegation from the Philippines, which presented an array of foodstuffs for import such as sweets, snacks, noodles, biscuits, agricultural products and a range of tropical fruits including pineapples and bananas.

Asharqia Chamber board member Abdullah A. Almajdouie and Secretary-General Abdul Rahman A. Al-Wabel welcomed the Philippine delegation.

The Best Beach in Panglao Island, Bohol (HENANN Resort)

“Only in the Philippines” The Best Beach in Alona, Panglao Island, Bohol /HENANN Resort / Click Image

Highlighting the potential in his country’s tourism sector, Tago said the Philippines was an archipelago composed of 7,107 islands offering a wide selection of beaches. Some Philippine beaches, such as Boracy with its famous white sand, have received international recognition and awards.

The Philippine diplomat focused on Palawan Underground River which is one of the renowned tourist attractions in the Philippines. It was listed in the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012. With a length of 8.2 km, the Palawan Underground River is the longest navigable underground river in the world. It is also one of the two UNESCO Heritage sites in the Philippines.

“Although we have a lot of world-class tourist attractions, the number of tourists from Saudi Arabia has not reached satisfactory levels,” Tago said, adding that nearly 30,000 Saudi tourists traveled to the Philippines in 2012. The country attracted more than 4.2 million visitors last year.

The ambassador outlined his government’s public-private partnership program under which a number of projects have been planned to be developed in cooperation with foreign and local investors. He urged Saudi investors to participate in these projects. In January 2013, four major infrastructure projects under the PPP program have already been approved. The projects concerns roads and railways, communications and a gas pipeline.

The resort is so serene – so quiet you can hear the crickets. The pool is inviting (as is the poolside bar) and the sandy beach is a few steps away, but screened from the resort itself by more coconut trees.

HENANN Resort in Panglao, Bohol. The resort is so serene – so quiet you can hear the crickets. The pool is inviting ( poolside bar) and the sandy beach is a few steps away, but screened from the resort itself by more coconut trees. “Only in BOHOL, Philippines” (Click Image)

Tago delineated Saudi Arabia’s contribution to infrastructure development in the Philippines. The Kingdom has already provided $ 20 million as soft loans for the development of various road projects in the Mindanao region. This was part of Saudi Arabia’s commitment of $ 100 million to Philippine development projects.

In 2011, the Kingdom imported SR 500 million worth of Philippine bananas. This represented more than half of Saudi imports from the Philippines. Saudi Arabia also imported SR 40 million worth of pineapples in 2011.

Almajdouie hoped that Saudi Arabia’s current trade and cultural relationships with the Philippines will further be strengthened as more than half-a-million Filipinos live and work in the Kingdom and their loyalty and experience have won the hearts of Saudi employers.

“There are also frequent reciprocal visits of high-ranking government officials and trade missions, which have resulted in a noticeable increase in trade exchanges between the two countries in recent years,” he said.

According to Saudi government statistics, two-way trade rose to SR 13.9 billion in 2011 as opposed to SR 10.2 billion in the previous year. In 2011, Saudi imports from the Philippines amounted to around SR 800 million while Saudi exports to the Philippines were valued at SR 13.1 billion.

DAMMAM: SIRAJ WAHAB (ARABNEWS)

OFW: A Must Read about Saudi Arabia

To : Fellow  Filipinos  and to would be OFWs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  A must read book or online publications about Saudi Arabia. 

Just click the book  icon to read.

Saudi Arabia in 100 Questions

Saudi Arabia in 100 Questions: Most of those who come to Saudi Arabia either as visitors or a workers are often awe-struck at the vast development all over the country. They admit that their image of Saudi society was very different before they arrived and lived in the country. Many Saudis, too, lack the correct and reliable information to present to others.

“Saudi Arabia in 100 Questions” aims at presenting a simple and comprehensive answers for many questions that may be raised by others about Saudi Arabia.

 

The Political System of Saudi Arabia:

The Political System of Saudi Arabia

The discourse in this book addresses elite western politicians, intellectuals  and thinkers. It discusses the most important issues related to the political system of Saudi Arabia from an Islamic perspective and through the state’s laws like the Basic Law of Governance. Among the issues discussed by the book, for instance, the imama (leadership), the rights and duties of the Muslim leader,  the nature of relation between citizens and the King, the concept of Shoura in Islam and the impact of the implementation of this Shoura in Saudi Arabia compared with democracy, the concept of bayah (pay of allegiance), the formation of political parties and the so-called opposition, the freedom of opinion and political expression, as well as other issues raised in the Western media and political circles about the political system of Saudi Arabia.  

Saudi Women, Towards a new Era:  There has been much misinformation about the people of Saudi Arabia in Western media; some may be due to Islamphobia, but some come from the difficulty in getting an accurate picture of the Kingdom’s diversity from the outside. Saudi woman was no exception.

Saudi Women Towards a New Era

This books demonstrates the achievements been made by Saudi woman despite the difficulties facing them. It highlights the roles being played by educated Saudi women and the government efforts to change negative attitudes towards women.

While reflecting  the emerging role of Saudi women who have been marginalized by rigid traditions and restricted misinterpretation of Islamic law, the book stresses that the active roles of Saudi woman, at both domestic and international levels, has dispelled long-held stereotypes of these women as being uneducated and dull.

Religious Police in Saudi Arabia

Religious Police in Saudi Arabia:  This book includes a comprehensive vision of issues related to the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice and its official establishment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  This book was prepared by a group of Saudi academicians, males and females, representing different Saudi universities and various geographical regions. They address the Western public opinion, its political and intellectual sources. Their aim is to clarify reality for Western public opinion, its political, intellectual and media sources.

Enjoy reading!

From: Bong Amora

DISCOVERING KUALA LUMPUR – PART III

DISCOVERING KUALA LUMPUR - PART III

By Doods A. Amora, PEE

THE MORNING AFTER (Friday, Oct 26, 2007)

A clear beautiful Friday morning finally came and we were all ready for the day. We were joined by Noralyn, a Filipina from Manila who was once a TV commercial model and Sharmaine, a beauty from Sri Lanka. Like my daughter Kitty, Noralyn and Sharmaine are now functioning as Cabin Crew of Qatar Airways.

Kitty then announced that she would be treating us to a surprise respite in a cool breezy place called Genting Highlands.

“Highlands…? You mean, bukid, bundok?” I asked because opposite to my intentions, my own map was to go direct to the Petronas Towers and conquer her. But this time it’s not for me to complain. Kitty was the ‘secretary-general’ pre-arranging our itinerary and the ‘finance officer’ paying for the bills in this trip. Besides, the trip package & tickets had already been purchased the day ahead. 

We were seven then, so we needed two teksi’s to bring us to the Central Station.

We hurried as we needed to catch the 9:30 morning bus to the highlands; otherwise, the trip would be ruined. But a second taxi was difficult to find in such peak traffic hours in a financial district, so the four of us, puro bagong salta, went ahead.

The taxi driver, sensing that we were first-timer tourists and knowing that there’s a bus to catch, pulled out his bag of tricks. Acting as a tourist guide, he gave details on what we saw along the way, what the landmarks are all about and the important edifices & personalities in Malaysia.

We realized he did not flag down the meter and when prompted, he said, “Walang problema”, nag Tagalog, pa! When we reached the Central Station, he concluded for RM20 (a favorite figure among taxi drivers in KL). A brief debate ensued but we gave in, anyway. It was not good for our health and the bus on schedule was already beckoning us. The bus, this time was more important than the taxi driver.

Charge to experience… this will never happen again, we promised. Later, we were advised that before taking a free-lance taxi, it should be made clear whether flag-down or un-metered. Para bagang sa Manila, e, “contrata”?

Read more.. click CESEEPS

Discovering Kuala Lumpur (Part 2)

DISCOVERING KUALA LUMPUR (PART II)

By Doods A. Amora, PEE

MOTORING TO KUALA LUMPUR

In my previous experiences, the scariest moments in foreign travels were the taxi episodes. Maybe because I had lots of these encounters before. But alas, most of these sour experiences happened nowhere else in the world - ironically, in our own City of Manila.

I recalled that in Germany, taxis were giving out ‘quittung’ (official receipt), and the drivers were wonderfully honest & helpful to foreigners. In Singapore, taxi service may be paid for by credit cards. And in those places, I felt safe & secured, and more importantly, the feeling of nobody is fooling who.

In Manila, especially if you emerge from an international flight, then you are pretty sure to be in a frustrating outbreak of your trip.

Pilipino nangloloko sa kapwa Pilipino sa lugar mismo ng mga Pilipino.

The Kuala Lumpur Experience: At KLIA’s ‘Meeting Point’, we were now set to exit the terminal. At this point in time, we must face my fears once again.

The Teksi (Taxi)… What would it be like in Kuala Lumpur?

In her anticipative research, my wife Mimi learned from a travel forum in the web that the antics of taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur are similar to Manila taxicabs. Usual tricks like no meter flag downs thereafter demanding RM 20 (PhP 240) for a usual RM 6 (PhP 72) within short city transports. Yes, I would agree to that because we experienced it ourselves in our subsequent days.

But somehow in KLIA (and in other major stations & government establishments in Kuala Lumpur), we discovered we don’t have to worry. The airport for instance has taxi booths where one can buy tickets for a specific destination. The taxi counter determines the type of taxi for the service according to the distance, the number of passengers and volume of baggage. By the way, baggage loads are being paid for, which to me, is fair enough.

As far as I knew, there were three types of taxis to choose from, the ‘budget taxi’, the ‘premier limousine service’ and the ‘free-lancer’ taxis. One has to avoid the free-lancers because they are reminiscent of the Manila taxis.

By the way, there is a high-speed train plying KLIA to Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station (KLSS) route in 28 minutes non-stop costing RM 35 per head. It would be a good choice if one doesn’t have lots of baggage and in a hurry.

We chose the budget taxi for RM 67, that’s roughly PhP 804. Quite a lot of money, I thought. A quick mental calculation later relieved me. In Mactan Cebu Airport for instance, a trip home to Mandaue City of only 6 kilometers distance costs us PhP 300 and that is PhP 50 per kilometer. The heart of Kuala Lumpur, this time our destination, is 70 kilometers away and that would be PhP 11.48 per kilometer only. Quite cheap, hu…? By the way, the payment is done at the taxi counter (not to the driver) and a receipt is issued. Then there’s a specific taxi exit door leading to a corridor where an attendant is waiting who will in turn give the taxi that you need as indicated in the receipt. Our taxi turned out to be a Malaysian Proton version of a semi-SUV.

KLIA is situated in Sepang area in the Malaysian State of Selangor, a 70 kilometer stretch to the heart of Kuala Lumpur. At an average of 70 kph, travel time was one hour. Traversing through 8-lane super highway (4 lanes in each direction, sometimes 5 lanes in interchanges), the ride was a real joy to remember.

The highway ride was flawless & bumpless in a high quality concrete road overlaid by asphalt - “it’s like the Expressway in the USA”, as described by my son Boboy, who is still fresh from a US trip. The gorgeous ‘highway interchanges’ along the way were by themselves scenes to behold - very similar to the Auto-Bahn I experienced in Germany. For the entire stretch of the highway, there were underground storm drainage systems intended to arrest rain waters from the road itself as there were also open drainage systems that catch the sliding waters from the side hills. These explain why the roads are still in excellent condition since 1993.

Unlike in the Philippines, all the highway side lights we passed through were working, and all the traffic lights were operative. Except for the 132 kV, 275 kV and 500 kV high & extra-high voltage grid towers on the hilltops, I didn’t see any medium voltage overhead electric distribution lines - all must have been underground in that entire seventy kilometer span.

Amidst my admiration I thought why our country can’t build faultless superhighways like what I saw in Kuala Lumpur…

By then I recalled the late Max Soliven, former publisher of the Philippine Star in one of his columns many years back, when he praised the Malaysian highway to the superlative degree but not short in saying that the road networks in Malaysia were constructed by Filipino expats and engineers.

 

There you are my friends; it is not that we don’t have the capability - because for every great infrastructure or edifice anywhere else in the planet, there must be Filipinos out there behind the scene. But why can’t we do it in our country? Is it because of too much politics? What kind of politics? Patronage Politics, Partisan Politics? Or Politics of Greed? Whatever it it is….

Read more click CESEEPS

Discovering Kuala Lumpur

Entry below taken from my elder brother latest entry in his blog CESEEPS; I asked permission first to post this entry here in my blog. In my surprise, he told me that part of this article is for the OFWs.

 

DISCOVERING KUALA LUMPUR (PART I)

(October 25 - 28, 2007)

By Doods A. Amora, PEE

Traveling to other lands has always been fascinatingly educational. As other countries differ from our very own Philippines in terms of language, history, culture, tradition, architecture, infrastructures and ways of doing things, the opportunities given me while in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, Northern China, Southern China and Jakarta in mid 1990′s had addressed the learnings & experiences of these mixed diversities I’ve treasured over the years.

 

Probably due to inertia at rest brought by the eight-year hiatus from these travels somehow made me lethargic to take a trip outside the country once more. But this time, an occasion to discover Kuala Lumpur courtesy of Qatar Airways through its partner airline, Malaysia Airlines, the zeal to trek in places where I’d not been to, came to my senses itching once again.

What would I see then? What would I learn this time?

Hence, on a sunny Thursday afternoon, we flew from Mactan to Kuala Lumpur via Sabah’s Kota Kinabalu together with my wife Mimi, my son Boboy and a family friend. We were to join my daughter Kitty, a cabin crew of Qatar Airways, in time of her three days lay-over at the posh Crowne Plaza Mutiara Hotel located in the heart of the financial district of Kuala Lumpur. Similar to Manila-Davao flight, it was one hour & thirty minutes plane ride to Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, a state of Malaysia.

STOP-OVER AT KOTA KINABALU

Flying over Sabah to me was wonderful - its blue-green forests showcased the richness of the centuries-old flora & fauna of a land that was once claimed by our country as ours. In a nostalgic flash, it reminded me of the bald(ed) woodlands of our country that were once known as the vaunted source of best timbers of the planet. It further prompted me to muse over the sad plight of a once mighty wood-based industry sprawled in my hometown of Nasipit that had now been leveled, and then later vanished seemingly without a trace.

 

Yes, to my friends who knew my roots, I meant our cherished Nasipit Lumber Company (NALCO), which once upon a time employed more than 3,000 people (including me) and fed some 15,000 mouths. Reflecting on recent history, NALCO like most of the lumber companies in the country had to fade away as there are no more jungles to log over. No more lauan, apitong, magkono, tugas, tuog, yakal, etc. Gone were the smells of the ‘trosos’ and the shrieking sounds of band mills & moulding machines. In retrospect, I felt sad thinking of the demise of such a beautiful industry I had been a part of. What were left are memories… and like NALCO itself, its memories will soon die away, sooner or later…

My soliloquy was disrupted when we touched down at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) at 5:30 in the afternoon. Our brief sojourn at KKIA nursed us with the first Malaysian phrase we learned - “Selamat Datang”, apparently same as Indonesia’s “Welcome”. Being a smoker myself, the next words that caught my wits were “Dilarang Merokok”, meaning “No Smoking”. To my subliminal relief, I found the next words I should grasp, “Bilir Merokok”, meaning “Smoking Room”. And there it was my friends, together with my unacquainted cohorts, we found ourselves silently savoring the aroma of the white whiffs within the four corners of the so-called (in my own lingo)Oxygen Room” sometimes referred to as “Lung Center” by others. Then, there was the “Tandas” or Toilet. Similar to other travelers, one’s system must always be leaking and thus one must know where the Tandases are.

 

THE KKIA

At the outset, airports always fascinate me. An international airport is said to be the window of the soul of a country or region it represents. As a reflection of what the country is all about, international airports are in fact, national prides, some describe them as national monuments. Airports somehow articulate in one way or another of the discipline of the people and the state of opulence & economic well being of a nation.

As the forty minute stop-over at Kota Kinabalu tendered me of some insights, I found myself drifted to comparing Kota Kinabalu International Airport to our own Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), both second only to the main hubs of Kuala Lumpur and Manila respectively.

Kota Kinabalu Airport at present is rated at 5.0 million passengers per year same as Mactan Cebu International Airport but with a runway stretching 3,780 meters (480 meters longer than MCIA). It has two terminal buildings compared to MCIA’s only one. But the airport itself is bustling of massive construction going on today in a project to accommodate Airbus 380 aircrafts and an ambitious 12 million annual passenger capacity by 2010.

Terminal 1 is the main terminal of KKIA. At present its technical facilities include 12 gates, 5 air-bridges, and 4 baggage claim belts. It has the capacity of handling 2.5 million passengers annually. Today, the terminal building is currently undergoing vast renovation and expansion - a beehive snapshot of activities that can not escape the eyes. Noteworthy, Kota Kinabalu is in the thick of constructing more than twice as large as the present airport.

 

Read more, please click  CESEEPS