12 Jul 2013 11:19

ASTANA (Kazakhstan), July 10 (Bernama) -- Malaysian businessmen should grab the opportunities available particularly in Kazakhstan's hospitality, banking and transportation services industries as these sectors are new and fresh.

Malaysian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Datuk Ahmad Rasidi Hazizi said Kazakhs are rich and the country, which gained independence 21 years ago, was yet to have advanced and coordinated services in these sectors.

"So, we can come in because we have Bank Islam and the Pilgrims' Board (Lembaga Tabung Haji) which caters for Muslims… we can also look into the building of roads, railways and bid for construction projects.

"It is good to consider these opportunities as the country is flushed with funds. If we don't take advantage of business prospects there, others will beat us to it," he said in an interview with Malaysian journalists recently.

The journalists were on a special media tour in conjunction with Astana Day celebration which marks the capital's 15th anniversary of its establishment on July 6.

Ahmad Rasidi said the country has always been looking to source good services from other countries and Malaysia could be fill the requirement by becoming a big player since both countries have a flexible economic regime.

"They are fast developing economically and we have to tackle them as soon as possible or else we will be left behind," he said.

Besides these areas, the ambassador said Malaysian could also tap the medical tourism industry in Kazakhstan since the country has yet to establish a solid medical service for its people.

"At the moment, they travel to Europe and Thailand to obtain the best medical service. We are trying to get them to go to Malaysia for medical treatment as I feel Malaysia is one step ahead of Thailand and I'm sure we can promote medical tourism to them," he added.

Ahmad Rasidi also said several doctors from the National Heart Institution (IJN) have performed eight major operations at the Presidential Hospital here, as such, Malaysia can make a mark in this area.

In terms of tourism, he believed Kazakhstan would promote its specialties in order to lure more Malaysians to its shores.

"They have great potential in tourism especially in Almaty (former capital of Kazakhstan) but they are not able to explore and utilise the potential fully.

"This can be our role to build a partnership with them and at the same time we must make sure Malaysia is also aware of such potential," he pointed out.

As for now, he said there were few Malaysian tourists to Kazakhstan and those who visited the country came for official matters.

Ahmad Rasidi said the poor tourist arrivals could be due to Kazakhstan's visa regime and lack of awareness about the country's tourist potential.

"We must understand that although Kazakhstan is the second poorest country among the Commonwealth of Independent States, it is now the second richest country.

"We must really tackle them to create a stronger and beneficial bilateral relations with the Kazakhs," he added.