‏Bahasa Indonesia, an emerging business language in Kingdom


BAHASA Indonesia (Indonesian Language) has solidified itself as one of the most sought business languages in Saudi Arabia. This is apparent with the high demand of those who are joining the Bahasa Indonesia untuk Penutur Asing (BIPA), Indonesian Language for Foreigners Program (BIPA), convened by the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia. “Every year we receive more than 120 applicants to join the program, but due to our capacity we can only cater to half of them,” stated Umar Badarsyah, vice consul for Information, Social and Cultural Affairs of the Mission.

‏On Aug. 1, 2017, 43 Saudis from various backgrounds received proficiency diploma for Basic Indonesia Language for Foreigners. They will join more than 1,000 Saudis from the same program that has been running for more than ten years since 2006. Most of them are working in areas that involve Indonesian such as Umrah and Haj operators, tourism offices, importers, shopkeepers, hotels and public officers.

‏“This year the estimation of Indonesian Umrah pilgrims and visitors hit 900,000. As for the Haj thanks to the kindness of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, we are now the largest contingent of Haj pilgrims with 221,000 Indonesians expected to come to the Two Holy Cities,” Indonesian Consul General Mohamad Hery Saripudin stated. The CG asserted that nowadays proficiency in Bahasa is a key recipe of success for many Saudis businessowners.

‏Ahmad Husen Batawi, an Umrah travel agent owner whose great grandfather was born in Jakarta (Betawi). stated that Bahasa helps him in promoting his business. He often visits Indonesia to meet his partners as well as traveling to Puncak and Bandung, two green places that most favored among Saudis.

‏Mohamad Amir Kanfa, a varsity student who works in Umrah travel agency as part timer also testifies that Bahasa helps him to guide Indonesian and Malaysian pilgrims.

‏For Ahmad Bawazir, Bahasa is not just for business. The language helps him to communicate with his distant cousins in Indonesia. Ahmad whose grandmother is from Cianjur, West Java Indonesia, has a lot of relatives in the archipelagic country. “Most of them in Java, but I also have uncles in Samarinda and Lombok,” said the young businessman.

‏Bahasa also becomes a daily language for Saudis. Arafat, a Yemeni descent Saudi who works for Pinehill, attests to this. “Many of my colleagues are Indonesian so every day I learn and speak with them, I watch some tutorial from YouTube and am practicing Bahasa daily.”

‏Speaking as a representative of the program alumni, Arafat is very excited in his wait for visiting Indonesia the first time this October.

‏The Consulate General is seeking to expand the program and in a search for universities to hold Bahasa Indonesia Courses at campuses. “We are hoping more and more people can join the program and receive benefits from mastering Bahasa,” said Badarsyah.

‏He also stated that many Saudi women are interested to join the program however since the permit is restricted to male participants, their registrations have been postponed. — SG