DOHA: Indian nationals living outside their country can enjoy visa-free travel to Malaysia now, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic).
“We welcome them to visit Malaysia as tourists,” he said.
“This will help increase our foreign exchange earnings as tourist arrivals will go up.”
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said this did not mean that the nation’s security would be compromised as they would have to undergo Airline Passenger Security Screening (APSS) before being allowed entry into Malaysia.
This flexibility, he added, would attract some 500,000 Indian nationals currently in Qatar as businessmen, professionals and technical experts.
Dr Ahmad Zahid is on a four-day working visit to Qatar at the invitation of the country’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Earlier, he had an audience with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al-Thani and later with Sheikh Abdullah.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said as the chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Tourism, he planned to attract more tourists from Qatar.
“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 added.
Dr Ahmad Zahid also wanted an increase in the number of flights from this region to Malaysia through collaboration with companies and agents handling umrah packages.
“I will discuss this with companies offering umrah packages while I am here,” he said, adding that he would also be holding talks with the country’s leadership on increasing bilateral trade between the two countries.
In the past two years, Dr Ahmad Zahid said trade volume between the two countries saw a decline, following the drop in oil and gas prices that affected both countries.
On this matter, he said several agreements, which were being drafted by the business councils of both countries, would be finalised soon.
Besides those involving travel and investment, Dr Ahmad Zahid said several agreements on the exchange of security and defence information, staff and training would be signed.
Following Qatar’s selection as host of the FIFA World Cup in 2022, Dr Ahmad Zahid said Malaysian firms could be involved in the supply of goods and equipment. — Bernama