PAK-Saudi relations assumed a new dimension on cultural front as a result of wide-ranging and in-depth talks of Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry with Saudi Minister of Culture, Prince Badar bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan. Pakistan Minister said Islamabad would support Saudi Arabia in promotion of culture and had offered services of Pakistani artistes, calligraphers, actors and film directors for increase in its cultural activities.
Indeed Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have cultural similarities and historic ties and the two have to gain from closer cooperation in the realm of culture. Exchange of ideas on strengthening of cultural ties came at a time when the Kingdom’s Cultural Ministry was officially launched and it unveiled a new strategy to play a significant role in realizing the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Among the most prominent initiatives were the establishment of King Salman International Arabic Language Complex, the establishment of the Cultural Growth Fund, the launch of the Cultural Scholarship Programme, the development of public libraries and the establishment of the International Red Sea Film Festival. Pakistan, with rich cultural background and fairly developed information and cultural sector, can definitely help Saudi Arabia in modernization of its Ministry and successful accomplishment of its ambitious plans. It is satisfying that the Saudi Minister expressed keenness in forging ties with Pakistan and securing its cooperation in art, film and drama. We believe that through their combined actions and plans, the two countries can not only develop their cultural sectors but also advance the cause of Islam by presenting a soft image of the religion. This is important in the backdrop of scathing propaganda campaign unleashed by anti-Islam forces that want to present a disfigured image of a religion that preaches peace and brotherhood. There are bright prospects for mutual cooperation between radios, televisions and news agencies of the two countries by way of exchange of programmes, news, training in national academies and visits of professionals to each other’s country as this would further boost mutual understanding. Saudi Minister showed his sincerity and goodwill by promising to consider the matter of availability of Pakistani dramas and entertainment on the flights of Saudi Airlines. On its part, Pakistan has waived the condition of visa and fee for Saudi citizens and now they could get visa at the airport and this would help promote tourism in Pakistan. It is hoped that Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who has the necessary background and is aggressively working to develop information and cultural sectors as per requirements of the modern day, would translate the commitment of the two countries into reality by drawing up practical plans of cooperation. Saudi Arabia has a vibrant head of the mission in Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki and the process of cooperation can be accelerated if officials concerned maintain proper liaison with him.