October 20, 2023 at 12:48 AM


October 19, 2023 at 11:00 PM

RIYADH - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and three Singapore ministers were hosted by the Saudi government to visit Madinah, also known as the Luminous City, on Thursday.

It is the second-holiest city in Islam after Makkah.

Madinah is the place where Prophet Muhammad established the community of believers, and where he is entombed.

In PM Lee’s first visit to the city, he stopped at the Quba Mosque, which is the oldest in the world.

The first stone at the mosque is said to have been laid by the Prophet, and the mosque’s structure completed by his companions.

Accompanying PM Lee on the visit were Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Social and Family Development Minister and Second Minister for Health Masagos Zulkifli, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, and Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng.

The delegation also visited the city of Al Ula, which was part of historic trade routes and which the Saudi authorities are developing as a cultural tourism destination.

PM Lee, who is on an official visit to Saudi Arabia from Tuesday to Friday, also attended a reception in Riyadh for around 100 overseas Singaporeans working and studying in the country.

On Wednesday, PM Lee called on and was hosted to lunch by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They agreed to step up relations between the two countries in areas such as trade and investment, green energy, and the digital economy.

The Singapore delegation also attended a briefing on Vision 2030 organised by Saudi Arabia’s strategic management office.

PM Lee noted that there are opportunities for Singapore to contribute, both from the private sector and also at the government-to-government level, said a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office.

PM Lee and his delegation also attended the Saudi-Singapore Roundtable Meeting hosted by Minister of Investment Khalid Al Falih.

At the meeting, senior representatives from various established Saudi companies shared their interest in growing collaboration with Singapore in a number of sectors. These include agriculture, digital economy and innovation, financial services, energy and petrochemical, as well as transport and logistics.

PM Lee welcomed Saudi companies to use Singapore as a gateway to explore business opportunities in Asia, the spokesperson added.

On Friday, PM Lee will participate in the inaugural Asean-Gulf Cooperation Council summit, where leaders from the two regional groupings will discuss topics including energy, food and security.

The ongoing crisis in the Middle East is also likely to be raised at the meeting.