2nd Term 4th Year, 1421 - 1422 A.H.
Royal speech of the King of Saudi Arabia
We inaugurate the works of The Shura National Council in the beginning of its forth year of the second session with all the hopes that our works are fulfilled with success.
It was really the wisdom of the founder of this nation, the late King Abdul Aziz that led us into choosing the consultation policy to run this country. It is now seventy five years since our country started using the regular Islamic consultation, when King Abdul Aziz issued the first regulation of The Shura National Council in 1346 A.H. He knew from the beginning, due to his deep vision and insight, that the right decision is based upon consultation of experienced and proficient people.
Since established, The Shura Council had a major role in development on all aspects. The Council acted many regulations in running the affairs of the country in consistence with internal status and with Islamic legislation.
When our country became more developed, we established a committee of a number of experienced and well-informed people. This committee suggested new and timely regulations that were compatible with our legislative system. Among these regulations was The Shura Council regulation; it was synchronically issued in 1412 with the basic law for ruling issued in the same year. This was an important step in practicing the principle of Islamic consultation. Stemming from this, we ordered to develop The Shura Council, to expand participating in it, and to organize its specializations and targets.
On this occasion, we take the chance to clarify to you many matters in the affairs of your country and people. You all notice that our statement is mainly centered on our people because our main target is to achieve more welfare, and to achieve more development, growth and progress to our country. To achieve that, we get benefit from its lofty position on the map of Islam civilization, and from its high place in glorious history of Islam.
Arising from this point, the message of your country remained evident in this world. We were given a trust that is our Islamic belief revealed to us from Allah upon this good pure land. Moreover, our loyalty to this belief remained for us a crucial matter that we do not accept bargaining about it or to offer any concessions concerning it. It is the approach engraved in our thought, land and schedules. It is our light that guides us to define levels of our relationships so that we accept all that leads us to develop our presence, and every thesis or projects that prepare more chances for advancing our future in this world, provided that this does not oppose or contradict with any basics of our belief, or the values of our principles and traditions.
I think this good experience you practice in this Council is the best evidence of the richness of Islam that is seen in projects it offers. These projects can achieve the purpose especially the harmony with the expectations of peoples in the past and presence concerning the participation in making decisions, or recommending the person in charge. Every matter related to our life has a convincing answer in our religion.
The whole world today witnesses the rapidness and strength of economical and social growth of our country. It also attests to the good degree of spiritual steadfastness that our people enjoy. This stability resultant thus represents a basic condition of superiority. It could be one condition for confident strong fruitful achievements.
I want to draw your attention to the coaxing and the enticement around us that aim to deviate us from the right path. They for example hint at Human rights, without knowing actually what is going on in our country, and without any objective knowledge of guidelines of our legislation in this field. The high principles of our legislation are incomparable and unmatched whether in this field or in any other field. Our principles are right because they are derived from our Islamic creed. What is happening to humanity and its rights in other societies is just shocking: women are subjected to mortification imposed by the idea and reality of consumption; kids are abused and subjected to labor and the dominance of materiality that controls everything. These societies claim that they are more righteous to defend rights of man. Concepts and values are confused; and this is normal.
In this context you know as every Muslim knows that human rights were defended by Islam 14 centuries ago. He, who violates them, exposes himself to worldly and otherworldly punishment. When we issued the basic law of ruling, the twenty-sixth article stated that the state protects the rights of man in accordance with rules of Islamic legitimacy. Because of our confidence in the proper course of our country and in its correct approach, we assure the whole world, that we have nothing to be ashamed of or to hide. Our doors are open, our hearts are clean, and our approaches are well-established. Our judiciary is straight and unyielding. The Islamic rule is the most just and most superior above all other laws.
We appreciate all efforts made to achieve welfare and luxury to people worldwide. We appreciate, too, the successive and accelerating discretions in this regard. Yet we greatly warn of outcome of trying to enforce societies to give up their own beliefs and cultures, especially if Islamic belief is one of them, which has its own image of the conditions of welfare for peoples.
We understand other cultures, but at the same time we are against control or dominance of one culture over the other.
Your country is aware of what is going on in this world such as challenges and developments. It considers itself part of international society. If we differ with others about some thesis and concepts, we support every step that result in the development and welfare of societies. That’s why we are to know what is going on in this world and we subscribe to the need to cooperation and collaboration. I have in mind for example the quick developments in the international economy in specific. Among its prominent features is the liberation of flows of business and investments, and easy fast movement of money capitals. All this happens because of the prompt tendency to remove barriers between markets, and to facilitate the transit of productions across borders.
This new reality makes it important in this country to prompt the cooperation of human society, especially the industrial countries, in a way that helps in transferring technology to developing countries, in lessening the tremendous developmental differences between these industrial countries and the developing ones. These differences would be the reason of hard negative influences on the powerless societies. Cooperation of industrial or advanced countries is not enough to lessen the severity of expected crisis. Efforts in developing countries themselves should be condensed to prepare the suitable ground for effective and vital economies and strong and deliberate investing and financial policies that guarantee achieving development. To attain such things, the developing countries should work on polarizing necessary modern technology and then to seek establishing and developing it in a way that fits its circumstances and possibilities. In this regard, you might have heard and followed our directions to King AbdulAziz City for Science and Technology on the necessity of convening international conference about transferring technology and of focusing on economical and scientific technology. You know that we are going to join the World Trade Organization, which would ensure our country promising economical and developmental chances.
Occasionally, you might have also known of the enactment of the law of foreign investment. You debated it in this Council after conferring with the Higher Economical Council headed by my brother Prince Abdallah bin AbdulAziz. It is the law that was appreciated in all economical and investing medium in the world. This was encouraging to many companies and investment foundations to start negotiating with us about their future investments in our country that is rich of wealth and that enjoys a strategic location. This new reality of foreign investment in our country would contribute in the qualitative move that our local economy would witness. This new investment reality would guarantee the foreign money capital in turn to achieve high profits, and would ensure legal warranties that provide it with required safety from non-trade hazards and risks. It also achieves it administrational features that warrant quick decision in many procedures. Now there are preparations to an economical conference that discusses the environment of investment and its opportunities in our country. The conference would combine superior businessmen and policy men, decision makers and industrial and legal banking people from governmental and private sectors in the kingdom and its partners.
This good achievement for the Higher Economical Council is part of a system of procedures that the state works on achieving in order to diversify and support Saudi economy. Part of that are the successful steps achieved by the Higher Council for Petroleum and Minerals, especially regarding inviting international petroleum companies to invest in the Kingdom. Upon this invitation for investment in petroleum, the Kingdom received multiple offers from eighteen international qualified companies, among which are the biggest ten petroleum companies in the world. It is estimated that billions of dollars would be invested in the Saudi economy over the next ten years. This would essentially and positively change the direction of Saudi economy in terms of development rates. And this would also have an influence on raising the subsistence level of Saudi citizens. Privately speaking, it would lead to establish new job opportunity, whether professional or non-professional, for young people. This means that jobs that would be created by this investing climate would not be limited to certain category of society. All categories and segments would benefit from it. It is also known that foreign investor would depend on local products, services and industries. Saudis would have their role in these projects such as executing side works, services, maintenance and transport. These works themselves are big and encouraging investments. The Saudi negotiator confirmed the basic role that Saudi investors would play in this field. Foreign companies were told that this would be one of the parameters for bids of companies to be based on. It was also confirmed for these companies that it is necessary to take care of environment.
Responding of these international companies and their readiness to commit to investments that require spending abundant amounts of money in our countries indicate the confidence in the stability we enjoy. It also shows the healthy investing climate as well as its transparency and attractiveness.
We are at ease, willingly, towards the stability of petroleum, which is satisfactory and fair currently for both consumers and producers. We are sure too of the cooperation of our partners in OPEC, and of their concern to entertain the interest of everybody. This is done through commitment to the resolutions of the organization and what member countries agree upon. Yet this does not mean that we neglect our endeavor to diversify the base of Saudi economy, lest coming across sooner or later changes, and in order to be in harmony with rising requirements of development, and in response to the ambitions of our people towards achieving more luxury and welfare. Here I should stress the vital role of Saudi businessmen in enriching and activating the economical movement. I need to stress as well their effective participation in pushing forward the wheel of development. Both public and private sectors witness cooperation and enjoy integrity, especially in projects of infrastructure, such as cooperation in projects of electricity generation, sector of communication, and some educational, healthy and entertainment facilities. Private sector here proved capable of undertaking the responsibility, and that it matches what was expected from it. We follow with interest the development of this sector. Here I want to mention that I noticed the positive indicators of its positive growth. It witnessed a growth of 7.4% in its gross product in terms of going prices and 2% in terms of constant prices in 1419/1420 A.H in comparison to last year. In the same year, the private sector contributed 38% in gross domestic product in going prices and 48% in constant prices.
We are proud of the continuity of these positive indicators. This is sustained by the regulations and reforms that were acted, which aim to reinforce the ability of our national economy to fact competitive challenges.
In preparing the budget of this year, providing the necessary means for the growth of economy and keeping its position were taken into consideration, along with continuing the steady steps to achieve the financial balance. The policy of conservative countries maintained the stability of domestic prices, and the rate of riyal, which are considered the keystone for balanced economical growth. Local banks kept on as well subsidizing its financial abilities, which made them one of the financially reputable banks that bolster confidence in the durability of Saudi domestic economy.
In order that our big developmental project is complete on all levels, research centers, Saudi universities, King Abdul Aziz city for science and technology, specialized scientific centers and institutes should do their best to habilitate and prepare Saudi staffs, so that we could deal with modern and advanced techniques, which would help nationalize technology, contribute in increasing production and raise the level of performance in general.
Last year, the law of cooperative health insurance was issued. You know the positive influence of that law on health performance and on its economies. In the same year, necessary studies were made to establish a Saudi stock company for services in industrial cities of Jubail and Yunbu’a for the purpose of executing operation, maintenance, administration, works of expansion, and buildup works accompanying the facilities of basic installations. It will soon be approved of. In the same year the Saudi company for electricity was founded. This year, the law of public corporation for tourism has been issued. Many regulations were approved, under which visas to visit the kingdom for tourism are issued. For this purpose, an integral plan would be set, including tourism programs. Lately we appointed the general secretary for the higher corporation of tourism. All this was done because the state got ensured of the presence of further important investing opportunities that could be achieved via such kind of industry that finds interest worldwide.
These achievements I mentioned formerly have in fact one idea that lie behind. They are further additional rings in our economical and developmental system in general. They are in harmony in some of their purposes with the new productive direction to grant private sector more opportunities to develop of the country, and with administering some developmental projects in it in a more effective way to improve the level of performance.
You notice that the state has, within one year, accomplished a lot. This affirms the prompt steps that we followed to offer more services to our country, our people, and guests who live with us on our land and to our brothers and friends who contribute with us with their efforts towards more development. I also would like to tell you that all reports raised to us from ministers and liable persons who are concerned with comfort of pilgrims confirmed the success of pilgrimage of last year, and reflected the extent of comfort and ease that pilgrims found while performing their rituals, and the big preparations that were made from different governmental bodies in that matter.
The government is always busy improving road, transport and communication networks to connect remote areas and its society; it also works on developing all villages and rural communities so that they get a share in development, settlement, stability and revival, and so that all regions of the country since enjoy equal developmental opportunities. We stress the importance of water and its reasonable consumption. As you know, water is the future crisis on the planet; so we have to reconsider aspects of agricultural, industrial and domestic water consumptions. We need to know that water resources are costly, difficult and drained. All bodies of our society need to be alert of this reality and its results. They should be interested in carrying the mission to reasonably manage water consumption in our country.
Our duty towards the Islamic world is not restricted to offer services and facilities to Moslems coming to our country. It overrides that to the deep interest in Moslems’ issues and concerns, and to all challenges that face them. The attitudes of the Kingdom towards Moslems’ issues everywhere are known and memorable. We have always expressed these attitudes with strong emphasis.
We have always denounced the continuous persecutions the people of Kosovo witness. We condemned the shameless assault that Moslems in Chechnya faced, and the horrible disasters they were subjected to. The state as well as people in this good country offered them all human aids they could in order to reduce the suffering of their brothers in those countries.
The worries of Arab World were not less important to us. They take the greatest share of interest that they deserve. I assure everybody that visits of some Arab leaders to our country and visits of Prince Abdulla bin Abdul Aziz, the crown prince and deputy of prime minister and leader of National Guard or prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, second deputy of prime minister and Minister of Defense, aviation and general inspector, to Arabic countries or to some influential international forces were centered on the worries of our Arabic world. These visits were all about the challenges, insults and violations it is subjected to, especially by Israel that did not spare an effort to deactivate and impede peace process, so that this region remains over the flames of aggressions, enmities, and tensions threatening with all kinds of danger. In this regard we had a clear message. With procrastinations and delays on its side, Israel is responsible for every danger in our region. Israel and countries that can exert pressure on it, should return to the right path, and submit to international efforts represented in relevant resolutions of Security Council, and refer to Madrid conference, and meetings, negotiations and agreements thereafter.
Here we confirm the support of Saudi Arabia to Syrian Arab Republic to restore its all rights, on top of them is the withdrawal from occupied Syrian Golan. At the same time we congratulate the Lebanese government and people on terminating the Israeli occupation in southern Lebanon. This would not have been achieved without the efforts of brave Lebanese Resistance.
Our relations with our brothers in the Gulf, and with our partners in Cooperation Council, are becoming stronger and more durable. Many thanks to the Gulf leaders on their realization of the importance of understanding, cooperation, consultation, and coordination between countries in this part of the world, since it is strategically and economically sensitive, and because their people have united national targets, and evident joint national interests. The experience and achievements of Cooperation Council, such as agreements and projects are the best evidence of the real overwhelming desire to understand and cooperate among each other, on one hand. On the other hand, what has been achieved through this Council confirms the success of the experience in respect of a project that aims to create further harmony and brotherhood between the countries in the region to intensify the opportunities of advancement and unity between our people in the face of challenges and to conform with accelerated developments in this world in another.
I can’t here but mention the significant step taken last year concerning the signing of maps to set land borders with Qatar State, and make the border line in Dohat Salwa. Here I need to praise the cooperation of the two countries, and their serious effort to achieve what has been done.
In foreign policy, the relation of Saudi Arabia with its brothers and friends stems from its established basics. It is always careful to activate and revitalize these relations to reinforce peace and security in this world. It is keen on attaining interests to societies, serving justice and peace worldwide especially in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria and on achieving security and stability in the world through the efforts of United Nations and its organizations.
The kingdom advocates as well the efforts of Arab League in bringing Arabs in one line. It sustains the course of organization of Islamic conference in joining Islamic nation together.
I take the opportunity of this annual meeting to thank the princes of regions for their exertions in enriching the experience of councils of regions, in reinforcing the course of development in every region, and in pushing forward the wheel of undertaking attitudes so that they go in line with their efforts to maintain prevailing security and system in all areas of the country.
This is in short what I meant to tell you today. As you notice, your country has remained loyal to its rigid principles and policy in the field of foreign affairs. It is going forward in confident and prompt steps on the path of its achievements and ambitions in regard of internal affairs. I wish you further success in all responsibilities I charge you with, and in all obligations of faithful honest duties. I don’t forget in this occasion to thank you all, and first of all the eminence of head of the council, his deputy and general secretary for all they do for the service of religion, country and state.
Thank you very much.