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Jakarta Post

From maids to markets: Indonesia still faces challenges engaging with the Middle East

  • Dian Septiari
    Dian Septiari

    The Jakarta Post

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Jakarta   /   Thu, September 19, 2019   /  03:28 pm
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President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (right) accompanies Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (center) as he writes in the President's guest book during an official visit to Bogor Palace, West Java, on March 1, 2017. Jokowi said at the time that the visit marked the beginning of improved cooperation between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.(Antara/Puspa Perwitasari)

For Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, strong political ties with the Middle East do not always translate into solid economic partnerships. As President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s special envoy to the Middle East, former foreign minister Alwi Shihab has been leading efforts to map out Indonesia’s economic opportunities in this region, including hosting discussions and business-matching events. He recently said that the President had expressed a desire to secure more fresh funds from the Middle East, but investors somehow always ended up comparing Indonesia’s business climate to that of regional rivals such as Malaysia and Vietnam. “There are things that they see are easier [elsewhere],” Alwi said on the margins of a conference on boosting investments to members of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in T...