Malaysia keen to team with Maldives on halal industry

By BERNAMA / Graphic By TMR

Malaysia has expressed the desire to cooperate with the Maldives in the halal industry, particularly in the food, services, Islamic tourism and finance sectors.

Visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak said he broached the subject of cooperation in the industry during a meeting with Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom yesterday.

At a joint press conference with Abdulla Yameen after one-to-one and bilateral delegation meetings at the president’s Office, Najib said Malaysia’s halal certification had become the global benchmark.

“We (Malaysia and the Maldives) can cooperate, even exporting (halal products) to third countries. We can also look into Islamic finance as Malaysia is a leader in the sector,” he said.

Touching on the field of tourism, where the Maldives is known to be one of the most popular tourist destinations, the prime minister said Malaysia was impressed with how the Maldives developed its islands despite the challenges of developing so many islands, not to mention the logistics.

Najib said the Maldives had succeeded beyond expectations and had been able to bring in some big names to operate hotels in the island nation and set its popularity as a major global tourist destination.

The Maldives, an archipelago situated in the Indian Ocean, consists of 1,190 islands.

Only 195 islands are inhabited and about 90 have been developed as tourist resorts.

“We would like to study how you have achieved that. I hope there will be opportunities for Malaysian companies to partake in the investment of your tourism development,” he said.

On another note, Najib said the Maldives’ validation of Malaysia as the model of economic development was a very strong vindication that the Malaysian government had been doing the right thing.

“(It is a) third-party validator of such importance to us and I’d like to thank you (Maldives president) for giving us the confidence that we are on the right track,” he said.

Earlier, Malaysia and the Maldives inked four memoranda of understanding (MoUs) yesterday to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

Najib and Abdulla Yameen witnessed the signing of the MoUs.

The memorandum on cooperation in the field of firefighting and rescue training was signed by Malaysian Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar and the Maldives Minister of Defence and National Security Adam Shareef Umar.

The MoU on cooperation in the field of health was signed by Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam and his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim.

The MoU on the establishment of the Maldives Culture Centre in Malaysia was signed by Malaysian Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican and the Maldives Foreign Minister Dr Mohamed Asim while that on cooperation in the field of higher education was signed by Malaysian Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and the Maldives Minister of Education Dr Aishath Shiham.