By Lilian Mellejor
President Rodrigo Duterte will fly out from Davao City on April 10, Monday, for a one-week official visit to the Middle East to strengthen partnerships with the Gulf States and promote the welfare of overseas Filipino workers there.
The President is expected to leave Monday afternoon for Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Qatar, where over a million Filipinos are working.
President Duterte will be meeting His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he will stay from April 10 to 12, according to an advisory from Malacañang’s Media Accreditation and Relations Office (MARO).
The Chief Executive will then proceed to Manama, Bahrain on April 12 to 14 to meet His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the advisory said.
President Duterte would also visit Doha, Qatar from April 14 to 16 to meet with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, MARO said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier announced that the State Visit to the Middle East is aimed to strengthen efforts for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare of the more than one million Filipinos in those countries.
It will also be an opportunity to invite investors to the Philippines and usher in progress at home, and to forge stronger partnerships by elevating our political and economic cooperation with these countries to new heights, said Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Hjayceelyn Quintana.
The President is expected to highlight with the leaders matters relevant to the welfare and dignity of Filipinos living in their countries as well as explore avenues for economic and political cooperation; explore partnerships in tourism development, halal food security, Islamic finance and energy security, as well as investments; and seek partnerships in security, countering terrorism and combating illicit drugs.
The DFA reported the Middle East remains the destination of choice of overseas Filipino workers, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar.
Quintana revealed that the Middle East is the second largest source with 28 percent or almost 7.6 billion US dollars remitted from the region in 2016. Out of that 28 percent, more than a third was remitted by OFWs based in Saudi Arabia, the second top source of remittance.
Also, 87 percent of the total crude mix was sourced from the Middle East, of which 36.1 percent came from Saudi Arabia, the top supplier of crude oil into the country.
The DFA said the President will also be witnessing the signing of agreements on labor, agriculture, air services, culture, health and political bilateral consultations. (PNA)