DOHA: Indian nationals living outside India will now also enjoy visa-free travel to Malaysia for the purpose of tourism, says Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The Deputy Prime Minister said it was appropriate that the Cabinet decision to provide the facility to tourists from India be extended to Indian nationals living outside the country so as to encourage them to visit Malaysia.
“We welcome them to visit Malaysia as tourists. This will help increase our foreign exchange earnings as tourist arrivals will go up,” he told the Malaysian media here today.
Zahid is on a four-day working visit to Qatar at the invitation of Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Zahid, who is also home minister, however, said this did not mean that security would be compromised as they too would have to undergo Airline Passenger Security Screening (APSS) before they were allowed entry into Malaysia.
According to Zahid, this flexibility would attract the approximately 500,000 Indian nationals residing in Qatar as businessmen, professionals and technical experts, to visit Malaysia.
He said as chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Tourism, among the objectives for the visit to Qatar was to attract more tourists from this country to visit Malaysia.
“Last year, only 5,000 tourists from Qatar were recorded. We need to increase efforts on attracting more tourists from West Asia through the support and cooperation of travel agents and companies,” he said.
Zahid said it was also his intention to increase the number of flights from this region to Malaysia through collaboration with companies and agents handling umrah (minor Haj) packages.
“I will discuss this with companies offering umrah packages while I am here,” he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister said during his visit to Qatar, he would also hold bilateral talks with the country’s leadership in an effort to increase trade between the two countries.
He said in the last two years, trade volume between the two countries saw a decline, following the drop in oil and gas prices which had affected both countries.
“I want to prove the commitment made before this, which is to reinstate Qatar as a country with big potential to Malaysia,” he said.
He said in this regard, several agreements in the midst of being drafted by the business councils of both countries, would be finalised soon.
He said apart from agreements involving the industries of travel and investment, agreements on the exchange of security and defence information, staff exchanges and training would also be signed.
Zahid added that following Qatar’s selection to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, companies from Malaysia would have the opportunity to be involved in the supply of goods and equipment necessary for Qatar’s successful organisation of this most prestigious football tournament.
Earlier today, Zahid had an audience with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al-Thani and later with Sheikh Abdullah.
Later today, Zahid will attend a dinner with the Malaysian diaspora in Qatar at a hotel here. -Mkini