Blue Diamond Affair

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    Recently, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Thailand’s prime minister signed agreements to expand diplomatic relations between the two countries.

    • The relations were restored only earlier this year, three decades after a high-profile jewelry theft, also known as the Blue Diamond Affair.

    About Blue Diamond Affair

    • Saudi Arabia downgraded its diplomatic relations with Thailand over the theft that led to a string of mysterious killings and became known as the Blue Diamond affair.
      • It all started with the theft of jewelry and other valuable gems from the palace of Prince Faisal bin Fahd, the eldest son of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, in 1989.
      • A Thai worker employed as a servant at the palace, stole precious gems worth $20 million from Prince Faisal’s home, which also included a rare 50-carat blue diamond, which is still missing.
      • The ensuing diplomatic repercussion was thus named after the gem.
    • Impacts: 
      • It resulted in loss of jobs for thousands of Thai migrant workers. 
      • Saudi Arabia stopped issuing work visas for Thais and discouraged its own citizens from visiting Bangkok. 
    • Present Saudi-Thailand relations:  Recent The high-level meeting also saw the two leaders agreeing on the appointment of ambassadors “in the near future” and to strengthen economic and trade relations
      • As the two countries turned a new page in their relationship, Saudi restarted direct flights to Thailand in February.
      • Since January 2022, many friendly exchanges have taken place between the two countries — one being an agreement between state-owned energy firms Saudi Aramco and Thailand’s PTT for cooperation in carbon capture and crude oil sourcing.
    • Recent Developments: In October 2022, Thailand hosted the controversial Saudi-backed circuit, LIV Golf Invitational.
      • In November 2022, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih attended a business forum in Bangkok meeting agriculture firms.
    • Relevance: Restoration of ties has benefits for both countries, as the two leaders inked agreements pledging to increase trade and investment.

    Source: IE