Thursday, 5 February 2009

Philippine President's Bahrain visit ‘very successful,’ says Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa


MANAMA, Bahrain (via PLDT) – It was a “very successful visit.”

The assessment of President Gloria Macapagal’s two-day visit here came from no less than her host: His Royal Highness Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa Salman Al Khalifa.

In a chance interview with a member of the media at the Royal Terminal of the Bahrain International Airport Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa said the President’s visit further strengthened the labor, diplomatic and economic relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Philippines.

During their first formal meeting here Tuesday, the Bahrainis leader told the President that his country needs more Filipino workers, particularly salesladies to man Bahrain’s burgeoning shopping malls.

On a personal note, Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa said that he and the President are “good friends,” and that they have a similar leadership style, specially their approach to the political and economic problems of their respective countries.

“We are in support of each other with the present situation and I wish the Philippines (all) the best. And I’m sure the Philippines will come up clear from everything for any trouble,” he added.

He reiterated that the reason why Bahrain treated Filipino workers very well is because the Filipino is “friendly, talented, hospitable and hardworking.”

The Philippines and Bahrain are “survivors,” regardless of the problems that confront both countries, the Bahrainis premier added. He did not amplify.

The oil-rich Middle East kingdom, which hosts 45,000 Filipino overseas workers, also needs more foreign professionals and skilled workers including engineers and nurses.

His Highness led the red carpet welcome for President Arroyo when she arrived here. Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa also led the airport send-off when President Arroyo left Bahrain for the Washington leg of her foreign trip.

“(It was a) very successful visit... from the President... and we hope we will continue to strengthen (our) relations on all levels,” he said.

“I’m wishing the Philippines and the Filipino people all the best in her (President’s) leadership,” he told the Filipino reporter.

He cited the President’s strong will and leadership amid the global financial downturn, adding that the Philippines is really blessed because it will not be affected so much by the global economic crisis.

“The Philippines is intact. The Filipinos will go on despite the challenges they face. We are very supportive of the President and the Filipino people,” he said in response to a question on his assessment of President Arroyo’s handling of the political and economical problems of the Philippines.

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