Singaporeans mark National Day with fervor

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH
— Singapore Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Lawrence Anderson and Consul General Raziff Aljunied, while welcoming Singaporeans and their families to the National Day celebrations at the Park Hyatt here, extolled the growing bilateral ties between Singapore and Saudi Arabia while giving an insight about the city-state.

The Consulate General of Singapore in Jeddah hosted a dinner reception at Al-Sohba Hall of Park Hyatt hotel on Thursday to celebrate the country’s 52nd National Day with the Singaporean community in Jeddah and around the Kingdom attending the celebration.

The Ambassador had a special word of appreciation towards Jeddah while welcoming citizens saying that the event in Jeddah was ‘enjoyed the most’.

Ambassador Anderson spoke about the Singaporean economy saying that it is resilient and expected to grow and get better. He added, “All citizens play an important part in contributing to the economy, while stressing that 2017 marks a special occasion — 40 years of bilateral relations between Singapore and the Kingdom.”

Ambassador Anderson also revealed that the Singapore government had extended an invitation to Saudi Crown Prince HRH Muhammad Bin Salman to visit Singapore and that Crown Prince Muhammad has kindly accepted the invitation. He said the Singapore-Saudi relations are robust and important, as Saudi Arabia is 2nd biggest trading partner in the region and 19th worldwide.

Consul General Aljunied welcomed the guests saying that this was the sixth celebration held in Jeddah with the Consulate looking to hold more. He said that this was a key event because it provides a chance for Singaporeans in Jeddah and the Western Region to meet. This was also an important year in Singapore as it elected its new lady president Madam Halimah Yacob this year.

Speaking to Saudi Gazette, Aljunied, said, “This is the sixth National Day reception held in Jeddah and the Western Region since 2012 and is the highlight of our Consulate and Singaporean community here every year. We have the largest number of Singaporeans in the Kingdom with over 280 nationals, many with their families. We are happy that they are here celebrating the National Day together as a community, also at the same time demonstrating to the world how Singaporeans are living comfortably in Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Arabia has been a wonderful host to us,” he added. “The Singaporeans are professionals working in various sectors. They are in banking, Information Communication Technology, while some are in the Islamic Development Bank and other major Saudi companies. They come from a diverse area of specialties. We hope to see more Singaporeans coming and working together in and with Saudi Arabia”

Aljunied also congratulated the Saudi government for a successful Haj this year, while thanking them for increasing the number of pilgrims coming from Singapore. The quota of Singaporean pilgrims increased this year from 680 to 800 pilgrims.

“We hope that with increased expansion of the Grand Mosque being completed, our quota will be increased and it will allow more pilgrims to come. This year’s Haj was smooth and comfortable for the pilgrims in every sense of the word. Everything worked with precision and very well. The fact that we have more pilgrims this year, and yet the service is becoming even better bears testimony to that. We deeply appreciate the gracious hospitality and care provided to our Singapore pilgrims by the Saudi government,” he added.

The Consul General stated that in addition to the consular and administrative services extended to Singaporeans and the general public, the Consulate also provides support to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and the Singapore Pilgrims Affairs Office in facilitating the pilgrimage especially in Makkah and holy sites. The Consul General also noted that Singapore Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs, and Minister-in-Charge of Cybersecurity Dr Yaacob Ibrahim headed the Singapore Haj delegation this year.

He said, “It had been challenging because we have a small team. However, with the dedication and commitment and all the measures put in place by the Saudi government, everything was smooth. And all the pilgrims performed Haj with ease.”

A large number of families and their children attended the occasion at Hyatt, where the Singapore Consulate had set up a playground for the children and organized a variety of games. It was a joyful atmosphere with families from all over the Kingdom reconnecting. Some Saudi nationals, married to Singaporeans, also joined in the happy occasion along with members from other communities to wish the Singaporean community happiness and success on the joyous occasion.