MADINAH: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was surprised that he was received as a guest of the Saudi Arabia government and believes that this is due to the close relationship forged between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
"Alhamdulillah, I have been given an exceptional welcome as I have not expected the roads from the airport leading to this place to be closed to traffic. This is unprecedented," the prime minister said when addressing about 150 students at the University of Madinah here last night.
Najib said he was also fortunate to get an unexpected welcome from many students and he was informed that they were made up of students who were granted scholarships by the Saudi government due to good ties between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
The prime minister said he would continue to foster good relations with the Saudi government as they had enabled Malaysia to be given favourable considerations in many aspects, including haj pilgrimage.
He said when the Egyptian unrest forced foreigners to flee, the Saudi government allowed the Royal Malaysian Air Force's Charlie aircraft to fly Malaysian students from Cairo to Jeddah before returning to Kuala Lumpur without having to obtain a visa.
"This is unprecedented. Furthermore, two Boeing 747 jumbo jet flights were provided for free to us to bring home the students," he said.
Earlier, upon arrival at the Prince Mohamed Abdul Aziz International Airport here for a four-day working visit, Najib and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were greeted by Madinah deputy governor Abdul Mohsen Al-Munif.
Najib said he would continue to advocate, develop and strengthen the Islamic jurisprudence in Malaysia based on 'maqasid Syariah' (Syariah objective) which would become the government's platform in championing efforts to develop Islam.
"Although I just have a brief encounter with you, it very meaningful. And hopefully, when you return to Malaysia, you will be able to widen and strengthen Islam, including the Islamic institutions.
"This is the government's and my fervent wish," he added.
Espousing the need to strengthen the economy, he said although the electricity tariff hike was unavoidable, the government would continue to help low and middle-income groups through assistance like the 1Malaysia People's Aid and school aid.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian Malaysian Students' Association president Ameer Ikhwan Zaini asked Malaysian students abroad to work closely with the government in developing Malaysia.
"It is counterproductive for students to hate the government," he said.
He said the setting up of the Wasatiyyah Institute by the prime minister to strengthen Islamic jurisprudence should be supported to enable professionals and religious scholars to enlighten the people on the beauty of Islamic teachings.
After the event, Najib and Rosmah visited the tomb of Prophet Muhammad located inside the Nabawi Mosque here.
Najib was accompanied by Prime Minister's religious adviser Tan Sri Dr Abdullah Md Zin.
Today, the prime minister is scheduled to perform umrah (small haj) at the Masjidil Haram in Makkah and has an audience with Raja Abdullah Abdul Aziz.