VIDEO: Direct flights push to enhance Bahrain-Malaysia bilateral relations
Sun, 02 Sep 2018
By Reem Al Daaysi
A TOP diplomat has been working on resuming direct flights between Bahrain and Malaysia as part of efforts to enhance bilateral ties.
Malaysian Ambassador to Bahrain Agus Salim Bin Yusof spoke of bilateral relations between the two countries which he said were strong since the establishment of diplomatic ties on November 25, 1974.
He told the GDN in an exclusive interview to coincide with the Malaysian National Day, which fell on Friday, that he hoped Gulf Air would fly to Malaysia again by 2020 after operations were suspended in 2012.
He also said that he was in negotiations with an airline in Malaysia to operate direct flights to Bahrain International Airport.
“There are now no direct air links between Bahrain and Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
“I’ve met Gulf Air and talked to them to invite them to fly to Malaysia again, given that they are acquiring many new aircraft from now until 2023 and they need to find new destinations.
“They are positive about it and maybe next year or the year after Gulf Air will be able to fly again to Malaysia.”
He added that negotiations were also ongoing with an airline in Malaysia to fly to Bahrain, but he did not reveal the name of the company.
“I believe this company has the potential to go to more destinations overseas and I am going to approach them again,” he said.
“It is good to have air links between two countries to facilitate visitors and businessmen and not only between Malaysia and Bahrain but between the two regions.”
Mr Yusof also said it was important for both countries to continue reinventing tourism products to help boost the economy, adding that there were indications that the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board would conduct a visit to Bahrain next year.
“For a country to be successful in tourism it has to invent new products to ensure tourists repeat their visits,” he explained.
“It is also important for Bahrain to promote its tourism in Malaysia.
“Malaysians are not aware what Bahrain has to offer and they do not know exactly where it is.”
In February, the first-ever Malaysian Week was organised in Bahrain and included the finest delicacies, music, heritage, fashion and culture to promote tourism.
A Malaysian cultural troupe also took part in the recently concluded Bahrain Summer Festival 2018 to expose the local community to traditional Malaysian dances.
“If there is a direct air link between the two countries, the tourism and cultural relations could be enhanced, not only to benefit Malaysia but also to benefit Bahrain,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr Yusof praised Bahrain’s working conditions with over 500 Malaysians living in the country.
“Bahrain is the most friendly place to work in this region for foreigners,” he said.
“Minus the weather, which you can’t do anything about, life here is comfortable and it’s peaceful and the Bahrainis, they, welcome us.
“The apartments, houses and infrastructure are excellent.”
However, he said, the Malaysian community was concerned about talks of efforts to increase Bahrainisation of the workforce.
“Recently we heard that Bahrain wishes to reduce the number of foreign workers and rely more on a Bahraini workforce,” said Mr Yusof.
“Although this is not a policy, there are recent talks about it, and our people are worried that their contracts will not be renewed.
“They’d like to work here for as long as possible because of the good working environment and good pay compared to what they can get back home.”