EVERY September 23rd is the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is a day when this country commemorates its day of national unity and reunified status made possible by the Founder of this Kingdom, His Majesty King AbdulAziz al-Saud.
That was on 23rd September 1932 when the Kingdom was founded. So to mark the 87th anniversary of the founding of this Kingdom which is also the custodian of the two Holy Mosques of Islam, that of Mecca and Medina, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Dar es Salaam threw a party at the Dar es Salaam well known hotel – the Kilimanjaro or Hayyat Hotel. This was on Wednesday this week. It was a well-attended reception as I was there.
The Saudi ambassador to Tanzania, H.E. Mohamed Almalik was on hand to receive his guests whom I estimated to be in their couple of hundreds. Saudi Arabia is a country, though modest in demeanor, but is globally renowned and revered.
And what makes Saudi Arabia that special? The answer is simple: it is the motherland of the Founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad [SAW].
For this reason, one hardly runs into controversial news headlines about this country for the simple reason that this country can ill afford controversy or unnecessary confrontations given its global spiritual leadership role as a Holy Land for a considerable number of humanity who happen to be Muslims.
Secondly, when we speak of the 87 years of the life of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we are talking here of a country which is the birthplace of Islam.
Therefore, Saudi Arabia is carefully treading the tight rope and stormy weather of the global political landscape and rightly so it is conscious of the fact that it is the custodian of the two Holy mosques of Islam, the one in Mecca which houses the Ka’aba and the one in Medina, where the founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad is interned.
It is thanks to the Saudi Kingdom in place which this week marked the 87th anniversary of its founding that Saudi Arabia is what it is today: home to all Muslims of all sects who are all welcome to the Kingdom.
The country’s demeanor is exactly like that of a head of a family - a father who has to exercise fairness to all under his care. This year, like all the previous years in the Islamic calendar is the year when millions of Muslims from across the world made a pilgrimage to this Holy Land, land of the two sacred mosques and birthplace of the Prophet.
But this factor alone, in a sense, explains why Saudi Arabia is so special in the world today and why the reception I was invited to attend the other day attracted so many that filled the hall to the brim.
But over and above spiritual connections between my country and Saudi Arabia, there is an area, which Tanzania and Saudi Arabia could work together economically. This is the area of gas and oil, which Tanzania has now in plenty with Saudi Arabia in the frontline of ownership of the resource for many years.
But Saudi Arabia already has been supporting Tanzania in the development of infrastructure. “We in Saudi Arabia, are proud of our participation in the development of the sister country of Tanzania through various projects such as the road construction, improving airports and supporting agricultural, social and investment endeavours,” the preceding former Saudi Ambassador had been quoted as saying in an earlier reception a few years back.
Following massive discoveries of gas which goes with the potential of oil production in southern Tanzania and other areas of this country, it would make a lot of sense if Tanzania could count on more experienced countries such as Saudi Arabia in oil production, and this within the context and spirit of South-South co-operation.
This is an ideal that both countries need to harness and develop in mutual benefit.