Guyana’s effort to expand economic and political ties with the Middle East received a boost on Monday after the Saudi Cabinet approved the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries at Non-Resident Ambassador level, and authorized the Foreign Minister - or his deputy to sign the related protocol according to the Saudi Islamic News Agency. Guyana has been anxiously waiting for Riyadh to take make this announcement.

 

Despite having a sizable Muslim minority, and a member of the  Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Guyana and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have never established diplomatic ties. This moved by Riyadh will pave the way for Guyana Honourary Consul in the Kingdom to officially take his post, and will see the appointment of Ambassador Odeen Ishmael to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Moreover, formal ties between Guyana and Saudi Arabia will make it easier and cheaper for Guyanese Muslims to make the Hajji, one of the five pillars of Islam. Most Guyanese Muslims are Sunnis like their Saudi brethrens.

 

Guyana hopes diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia will facilitate trade and investments between the two countries. Guyana is keen in attracting Arab investments and capital to develop its economic sectors. Saudi Arabia is also a member of the OIC, and is one of the largest shareholders of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), an arm of the OIC.

 

President Jagdeo of Guyana is keen to visit Saudi Arabia but with little time he has left in office, and the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries so late in his term, it is high unlikely that he will become the first Guyanese head of state to visit Saudi Arabia.