Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has decided to gift President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo a mosque as a "token of their brotherhood", an expert staff member at the Executive Office of the President (KSP) has said.
The mosque is set to be built in the Indonesian leader's hometown of Surakarta in Central Java, said Munajat, a KSP expert staff member in politics, legal, defense, security and human rights affairs.
Munajat told The Jakarta Post that bin Zayed's intention to give Jokowi such a gift was brought up by the crown prince himself during his visit to Jakarta in July, in which they discussed strengthening bilateral economic ties between the two countries.
"The two leaders are very close; Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan even calls the President 'my brother'," Munajat said on Wednesday, "The Mosque will be a gift to mark their friendship, their brotherhood."
The crown prince wanted the mosque to be "grand", he said, adding that the cost to build and design the mosque would by fully borne by the kingdom.
However, construction of the mosque cannot begin just yet, as a team is currently looking for a suitable location.
Munajat said he had visited Surakarta several times to look for a location. "It's rather hard to find a strategic location with a large amount of vacant land in the city," he said, adding that he was optimistic a suitable location would eventually be found.
Bin Zayed's plan to build a mosque in Surakarta was also confirmed by Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan via a post on his official Facebook account on Aug. 14.
In the post, Luhut wrote that a week after the meeting between bin Zayed and Jokowi, the crown prince sent UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei and a number of experts to Jakarta to follow up the discussion between the two leaders.
"One matter the [UAE] wants to confirm with Indonesia is the location the mosque in Surakarta is to be built," Luhut wrote in his Facebook post.
Mazrouei and his entourage had also visited Jokowi's hometown themselves and inspected several potential locations for the mosque, the minister added.
On July 24, Jokowi hosted a bilateral talk at Bogor Palace in West Java with bin Zayed, which marked the first visit of a UAE leader in almost three decades, following that of bin Zayed's father and then-UAE president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan in 1990.
Indonesia and the UAE inked US$9.7 billion in investment deals during bin Zayed's visit, which comprised business-to-business agreements between firms from the two countries, including collaborations in upstream to downstream business activities.
According to Trade Ministry data, the UAE is Indonesia's 19th largest export destination, with non-oil and gas exports to the Middle Eastern kingdom recorded at around $700 million in the first six months of this year.
When asked for comment, the UAE embassy in Jakarta did not disclose any further information about plans for the mosque's construction. "We will get it to you as soon as we get all the details," the embassy said. (afr)