Saudi Arabia has committed to establishing an embassy in Cambodia this year, with the expectation that it will promote closer relations and cooperation between the two countries.

Newly-appointed Saudi ambassador to Cambodia Mohammed Ismaeil A Dahlwy made the pledge as he paid a courtesy call on Senate president and acting Head of State Say Chhum on March 9.

“[Chhum] offered his congratulations to Dahlwy, who expressed his appreciation for the excellent relations and cooperation between the two Kingdoms,” said a March 9 statement from the Senate.

“Dahlwy hopes his diplomatic mission will contribute to the strengthening of the relationship. Most notably, he assured [Chhum] that he will do his utmost to ensure a Saudi embassy is established before the end of the year,” it added.

Chhum emphasised that the Senate, National Assembly, and all government institutions are prepared to cooperate closely with the envoy to bring great mutual benefits to both peoples and countries.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the expansion of Cambodia’s relations in the modern era is necessary to improve political, economic and trade cooperation.

He expressed support for official ties between Saudi Arabia and Cambodia, suggesting that both sides establish embassies in one another’s capitals.

“It is important to remember that Saudi Arabia is a major oil producer, while Cambodia is focused on light industry, like textiles, and produces agricultural products,” he said.

“Therefore, there is ample opportunity for trade between the two nations. Saudi could become an important market for us,” he added.

He also pointed out that the expansion of relations with new international partners is clear evidence that Cambodia’s foreign policy is open to wide ranging cooperation.

“This should dispel the assumption that Cambodia depends only on this or that country,” he said.

Saudi Arabia first announced plans to open its embassy in Phnom Penh February. Its embassy currently accredited to Cambodia is located in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

According to the commerce ministry, Cambodia-Saudi Arabia trade volume over each year from 2018-2021 respectively came in at $16 million, $15.6 million, $19 million and $26 million.

It noted that Cambodia’s major exports to Saudi Arabia include milled rice, fruits, garments, footwear and leather goods, while imports comprise fruits, chemical fertilisers, plastics and products thereof, aluminium and construction materials.