Eveline Danubrata and John Chalmers 

A pact to combat terrorism will be the centrepiece of up to 10 agreements that will be signed when Saudi Arabia’s king this week visits Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, the kingdom’s envoy to Indonesia said on Tuesday. 

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who on Sunday kicked off a month-long Asian tour, lands in Indonesia on Wednesday with an entourage that local officials have said could number up to 1,500. 

Billed as a “mega trip”, it would be a Saudi king’s first visit to Indonesia in nearly five decades. 

Apart from a side-trip of several hours to Brunei, King Salman will be in Indonesia until March 12, spending much of the time on the resort island of Bali, ambassador Osama Mohammad Abdullah Alshuaibi told Reuters in an interview. “We know Indonesia has suffered from bombing and terrorism here,” he said, singling out the Islamic State for its “different ideology” and disrespect for human life. 

“We will cooperate with the Indonesians on this field. We can exchange data, we can exchange experience, and we can defeat these people.” 

Authorities in officially secular Indonesia have grown increasingly concerned after a series of attacks over the past year blamed on supporters of Islamic State. 

ISLAMIC SCHOOLS 

Indonesian police killed a militant on Monday after he detonated a small bomb in the West Java city of Bandung. Security officials said they were investigating whether he had links to a radical network sympathetic to Islamic State. 

Alshuaibi said Saudi and Indonesian military officers are training in each other’s countries to counter Islamic State. 

Saudi Arabia is aiming to open more Islamic schools in Indonesia, which will teach religion using the Arabic language, and step up the number of scholarships for students, the envoy said. 

The king’s visit to Indonesia comes as fringe Islamist groups grow in influence and Muslim leaders take an increasingly strict line on Islamic issues. 

Underpinning that is a growing conservatism among Indonesians, which analysts say is partly the result of ‘Saudi money’ being poured into the country over the past several decades to build mosques, schools and universities. 

The ambassador said the visit could also lay the foundation for developing oil and gas projects and promoting tourism. 

$25 BILLION 

Oil giant Saudi Aramco, which has an existing agreement with Indonesian state energy firm Pertamina for a $5 billion refinery upgrade in Central Java, may take on more projects offered by Pertamina later this year, he said. 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is hoping the king’s visit will bring investment commitments worth up to $25 billion, Indonesian officials have previously said. 

During his trip to Indonesia, the Saudi king will be accompanied by more than 900 people, including ministers, princes and service staff, Alshuaibi said. Indonesian officials had earlier said the entourage could be up to 1,500 people. 

The king will visit Jakarta, the state palace in Bogor, a city south of the capital, and spend the last leg of his Indonesian trip in Bali, Alshuaibi said. 

Indonesia will assign at least 9,000 security personnel to protect the king’s entourage, he added. 

Malaysian companies and their Saudi Arabian counterparts signed on Tuesday preliminary agreements for seven deals worth more than $2 billion, as the oil-rich gulf nation seeks to build ties and investment opportunities in Asia. 

The deals, valued at 9.74 billion ringgit ($2.19 billion), will cover joint ventures and cooperation in several sectors including oil and gas, Islamic finance, shariah compliant products, the halal industy and manufacturing, Malaysia’s Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed said at a press conference. 

Saudi state oil company Aramco is also expected to sign a deal with Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) on Tuesday afternoon to invest $7 billion in an oil refinery and petrochemical project in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor.–Reuters