Global Insider: Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Relations

Indonesia and Saudi Arabia recently agreed to increase their cooperation on defense matters. In an email interview, Ann Marie Murphy, an associate professor at the Whitehead School of Diplomacy at Seton Hall University, discussed Indonesian-Saudi relations.

WPR: What is the current state of Saudi-Indonesian relations?

Ann Marie Murphy: Indonesian-Saudi relations are currently strained over a string of cases of abuse of Indonesian migrant workers by their Saudi employers. With more than 3 million Indonesians working abroad, protection of migrant workers is a politically charged issue in Indonesia, and graphic pictures of young maids tortured in Saudi Arabia triggered an uproar in Indonesia that led to protests outside the Saudi embassy in Jakarta. In one high-profile case, Indonesians were outraged that a Saudi court overturned the conviction of a Saudi employer for torture. In response to domestic pressure, Indonesia sent ships to repatriate thousands of Indonesians. For its part, Saudi Arabia has criticized the practices of Indonesian recruitment agencies, blamed Indonesians for overstaying hajj visas and halted recruitment of Indonesian workers.

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