ISLAMABAD: The 11th Session of Pakistan -Saudi Arabia Joint Ministerial Commission was held in Islamabad from January 16-17. The Session was co-chaired by Minister for Commerce and Textile and Pervaiz Malik and Saudi Minister for Trade and Investment Dr Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. During the two-day session, meetings were held between the experts of the two sides on a number of issues, especially focusing on trade, commerce, energy, consular affairs, education, health and other matters of mutual interest. During his stay in Pakistan, Dr Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi called on President Mamnoon Hussain as well as Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. He also held meeting with the minister for overseas Pakistanis and human resource development on issues of bilateral interest. The closing session was held on Wednesday, and the protocol of the session was signed by both co-chairs. During the session, both sides agreed to hold exhibitions of new products in each other’s countries. First single country exhibition of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia will be held in the second half of 2018. The two sides also agreed to review and simplify the procedure of business visa issuance. The business visa fee will also be rationalised. The commission called for reactivating Pak-Saudi Joint Business Council (JBC) by first quarter of this year followed by the first meeting of the council. It was also decided that a commercial Attache will soon be designated in Saudi Embassy, Islamabad. The Pakistani side stressed the need of cooperation between Saudi oil and gas companies to develop oil production in Pakistan including setting up of refineries. Both sides agreed to expedite negotiations to finalize the MoU between central banks of two countries. Moreover, the two sides decides to exchange and share security information and the expertise in the field of combating terrorism, organised crimes and money laundering. It was also decided that a draft agreement on the transfer of sentenced prisoners would be signed at the earliest. The commission encouraged exchange visits of the officials from the media. It was agreed to encourage cooperation in the fields of scientific researches, exchange of scholarships and experiences in health teaching and medical staff and exchange of student visits. The Pakistani side requested to increase scholarships for Pakistani students studying in Saudi universities. Meanwhile, the two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in science and technology and exchange of research expertise. Pakistan offered Saudi Civil Aviation training courses at Civil Aviation Training Institute, Hyderabad in the field of air traffic control, communication, navigation and surveillance engineering and aviation management. The two sides also vowed to enhance cooperation in the field of health, trade, energy, investment, education, agriculture, etc. Published in Daily Times, January 18th 2018.