Bangladesh–Saudi Arabia relations

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Bangladesh-Saudi Arabia relations
Map indicating locations of Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia

Bangladesh

Saudi Arabia

Bangladesh–Saudi Arabia relations had a strained beginning but have grown into a strong relationship between the People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Being a Muslim-majority state, Bangladesh attaches a special importance to its ties with Saudi Arabia, which is the birthplace of Muslim religion. Both nations are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Saudi Arabia hosts a large proportion of the global Bangladeshi diaspora.[1][2][3][4]

History

In 1947, East Bengal became part of the newly created Muslim state of Pakistan, which developed a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia. When Bengali nationalists began a war of liberation against the Pakistani state, Saudi Arabia supported the Pakistani regime and opposed calls for the independence of Bangladesh. Saudi Arabia saw the Bengali nationalists as opposing a Muslim state and thus opposing Islam. For its part, Bangladesh forged a close relationship with India and the Soviet Union, both of whom had strongly supported its independence. The pro-Soviet, secular and socialist policies of the regime of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding leader of Bangladesh, also antagonized the anti-Communist Saudis.

Establishment of diplomatic relations

Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh formally established diplomatic relations in 1975-76, after the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by pro-Islamic military officers. Following Sheikh Mujib's overthrow, Pakistan and its allies warmed to the new military regime, which distanced itself from Bangladesh's traditional allies India and the Soviet Union, established Islam as the state religion and lifted bans on many Saudi-sponsored religious organisations that propagate Wahabbism. The military regimes of Ziaur Rahman and Hussain Muhammad Ershad took steps to forge strong commercial and cultural ties with Saudi Arabia. Since the late 1970s, a large number of both skilled and unskilled Bangladeshi workers have moved to Saudi Arabia; the number of Bangladeshis living in Saudi Arabia today exceeds 2.5 million. A large number of Muslim religious students and clerics also regularly travel to Saudi Arabia for study and religious work. As one of the most populous Muslim countries, Bangladesh is a major source of Hajj pilgrims. Saudi Arabia has become a major source of financing and economic aid to Bangladesh.[5]

References