Singapore’s National Institute of Education (NIE)  will train 3,000 Saudi school principals over the next few years, Singapore’s Ambassador Lawrence Anderson told Arab News.
Spelling out his country’s close ties with Saudi Arabia, Anderson said 2013 was a very fulfilling and productive year for the Singapore. “It has been an eye-opening experience and I have learned much in my first year here. Many good Saudi friends have been helpful in enriching my understanding of the history and culture of this great Kingdom,” he said.
“It was also a fruitful year for Saudi-Singapore relations  as there were a number of high-level visits between our two countries. Prominent Saudi dignitaries who visited Singapore in 2013 included King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies Chairman Prince Turki Al Faisal, Saudi Red Crescent Authority President Prince Faisal bin Abdullah and Transport Minister Jabara Al Sureisry,” he said.
From Singapore, Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim and Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Lee Yi Shyan visited Saudi Arabia.
He explained that as such, he has made it a priority to encourage Saudis to visit Singapore with their families as well as provide advice and assistance to many Singaporeans wanting to visit the Kingdom. “We promote Singapore through social and cultural events like screening Singapore-made movies and food festivals to showcase our culinary delights,” he said.
He said education is another area in which stronger collaboration will benefit the two countries. “We are involved in education within the Kingdom. NIE has been working with prominent Saudi institutions. Ranked 2nd in Asia and 13th in the world, NIE is responsible for the training of schoolteachers in Singapore. "
In 2013, NIE formalized a memorandum of understanding with Tatweer Education Holding Co. to promote school leadership development in Saudi Arabia. “We are confident that Saudi principals will be able to impart the lessons learned to their colleagues here in the Kingdom,” he said.
He said Singapore is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society. Besides the Chinese, Malays and Indians, there are several other minority communities, including the Arab community living in Singapore.  They have contributed a lot to Singapore’s success.
According to him, Muslims constitute more than 13 percent of the population. “The Muslim community is an active and vibrant one,” he said. “The rights of the Muslim community are protected and it enjoys special place in the education and housing planning. Our electoral rules seek to ensure that minorities will always have fair representation in Parliament,” Anderson added.
By Abdul Hannan Tago