In his brief visit to Bangladesh lasting five hours on Sunday, Prince Al-Waleed had a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on possibilities of investment and was given a rare state honour.
The founder and CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Company received Bangladesh Friendship Medal in a brief ceremony from the Prime Minister at Sonargaon Hotel after reaching Dhaka around 10am.
Officials said Prince Al Waleed and Hasina had lunch together.
“We’ve had a discussion with the Saudi Prince regarding investment possibilities in Bangladesh. He is interested to invest here and also showed interest in the power and tourism sectors,” Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told journalists.
The Saudi tycoon was given a Power Point presentation highlighting the investment scenario in Bangladesh, opportunities for investment in the Public Private Partnership projects, and tourism and power sector, climate change challenges after the meeting.
Replying to a media query, Dipu Moni said they did not discuss any particular project with the Saudi Prince.
“But a small Bangladeshi delegation will go to Saudi Arabia next month to discuss several specific issues,” she said.
The Prince, owning $18 billion, is currently ranked 29th in the Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires. He visited Bangladesh earlier in 2005 when he wished to buy Sonargaon Hotel.
Answering a question whether the Prince still intended to do so, Moni said, “He has not shown any interest in buying any hotel.”
“Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal is famous around the world as a huge investor. We hope he will invest in Bangladesh,” Moni added.
On exporting manpower to Saudi Arabia, the Foreign Minister said, “We have thanked the Saudi government on the issue. We said if they need, they can import more workers from Bangladesh. He used two words about the Bangladeshi workers – integrity and honesty.”
Many Bangladeshi workers are currently working in Prince Talal’s organisation, she added.
Deputy Leader of Parliament Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, Moni, Prime Minister’s Advisor Gowher Rizvi, Cabinet Secretary Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Ambassador at large M Ziauddin, Foreign Secretary Mizarul Kayes and Power Secretary Abul Kalam Azad also took part in the programme to honour the Saudi Prince.
The Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad said at the honouring ceremony, Hasina urged the Prince to invest to help build infrastructure in power and energy and also in tourism.
She said the investment may be made through public-private or joint partnerships, drawing a prompt positive response from the Prince, the Press Secretary added.
Defining Bangladeshi workers industrious and law-abiding, the Prime Minister called on Prince Al-Waleed to employ more workers including doctors, nurses, engineers, information-technology experts, accountants and skilled and semi-skilled workers in his new projects.
“The Saudi Prince praised the economic progress of Bangladesh even though the world is suffering from economic recession and also praised the Prime Minister for her leadership,” said Azad.
The Prince then saw President Zillur Rahman at the Bangabhaban before leaving Dhaka around 3pm.
State Minister for Power Mohammad Enamul Hoque saw him off at the airport.