In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Praise be to Allah who made Islam a religion, a faith and a law for us, and made the Holy Quran a light, a constitution and a way of life for us, and prayers and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad bin Abdullah, who explained to us through his Authentic Sunnah the matters of our religion and our life..
Brothers members of the Shura Council, peace be upon you,
With Allah’s help and blessings, we inaugurate the work of the second year of the fifth term of the Shura Council, asking Allah Almighty to make all of our deeds sincere, and to make this year a year of blessing and prosperity on us all.
Islam is a religion of dialogue, moderation and co-existence. It is from dialogue that the principle of Shura has emanated. This divine principle is emphasize by the Holy Quran in a number of verses in a number of verses of the Holy Quran and is thus an important basis for rule in Islam. Therefore, this principle, the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has shown its determination, since its inception by the Founder King Abdulaziz, to institute the Shura Council, where debate and discussion take place on issues related to the state and its citizens.
We meet here annually under the Shura Council's dome, with open eyes and minds to consider the best achievements of your government, at both national and international levels. We are also here to learn lessons and to have a look at the future, in order to protect the state and her citizens against regional and international implications inflicted on the region. Your government, through its efforts, has managed to tackle those implications with wisdom and insight. It has saved the country by keeping it away from such dangers. This has protected its gains and ensured the continuation of process of development continues.
Dear brothers, since we met last year at the inauguration of the work of the first year of the fifth session of the Shura Council, the government of Saudi Arabia has continued to carry out comprehensive policies covering various domains at both national and international levels cover various domains, internally and externally. We thank Allah Almighty for guiding us to achieve positive results, which you have all been able to see. This does not mean a complete satisfaction, but it is a stimulus for more and greater effort. We do not look for any reward but for Allah’s acceptance and to serve this state and its people.
At the national level, the government has continued its efforts to establish security. The most outstanding effort in establishing security is the activity carried out by the security services to counter people with deviant thoughts and various deviant groups of extremists and terrorists. The security arena has witnessed – with the help of Allah - a number of successes and pre-emptive strikes. The security endeavors will continue to thwart any terrorist plans and eradicate the roots of the deviant group and to dry up its sources of terrorism.
We have been hurt by the attack against the southern border of the Kingdom carried out by some aggressive infiltrators. The Kingdom has stood firm in the face of this shameful aggression and managed to repel the aggressors and clear and secure its border.
To assure ourselves about the achievements of our military forces, we made an inspection tour of military sites along the lines where the confrontation took place. During the tour, we met our sons stationed on the frontlines and congratulated them on their victories.
In this regard, we commend the bravery of our sons, the members of the Armed Forces and all other military sectors, for defeating this aggression. We ask Allah Almighty to bless the souls of the martyrs and for a speedy recovery for those wounded personnel.
In view of these attacks, which resulted in the displacement of many citizens from their villages along the border, we ordered the establishment of 10,000 housing units to be delivered as soon as possible to those living in the shelters in Gizan Region.
The government and the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia appreciate the positions taken by Arab, Islamic and friendly countries, and the position of the Gulf Cooperation Council States in particular, towards this attack, which was expressed by the final statement of the Supreme Council at its 30th session held in Kuwait.
We also should not forget to commend the outcomes of this term which includes the establishment of the Customs Union, the Common Gulf Market, the Monetary Union, the electricity grid and the economic feasibility study into the rail link between the GCC countries.
Proceeding from the principles of our Islamic religion, and based on the position of the Kingdom in the Arab and Islamic worlds, we continued our endeavour to adopt an Islamic discourse based on dialogue and tolerance, bringing the views together, clearing misunderstanding, and rejecting all forms of disagreement, hostility and hatred among the followers of the different religions and cultures through the Program of Dialogue among the followers of doctrines and religions. This program has gained an international dimension, and we are determined to continue with these efforts.
Almighty Allah has honored this country by selecting it to serve the Two Holy Mosques. In this regard, a great expansion was carried out at the Masa’a and the Jamarat Bridge which doubled their capacity. Work is under way to complete the great expansion of the northern part of the Grand Mosque, in addition to the Two Holy Mosques’ Express Train project and the holy sites railway. We will do our best to continue to provide security and comfort for pilgrims and visitors.
We have frequently stressed the importance of government programs related to the welfare, development and means of living for citizens. It might be important to mention our approval of the comprehensive strategy for employment over the next 20 years. We are determined to create more than 200,000 educational jobs to raise the status of teachers. This is part of our endeavor to provide enough job opportunities for our citizens.
On the social field, we have provided urgent aid of SR 1.166 billion to be disbursed among those who are entitled to it and are covered by the social security system. We also ordered that this system should include orphans and those with special needs who are above 18 years of age.
Education is one of the most important duties shouldered by this country since its foundation. In order to support higher education, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology was inaugurated at Thul in the presence of a top level world audience. Other new universities in various regions were established to raise the total number of universities to 25. All available resources and capabilities were made available for them, with unlimited support. This has ensured that our universities occupy advanced rankings at the level of Arab, Islamic, and world universities. We continued the program of sending students on scholarships abroad to provide the best opportunities and access to the world’s best universities in the most important specializations. The number of students sent abroad now stands at 70,000.
With the grace of Allah, the judicial sector has been improved through the issuance of two new laws for the Judiciary and the Board of Grievances, the completion of the judicial councils formation and supporting this sector through the adoption of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz project with a budget of SR7 billion. Administrative and organizational changes are also taking place to keep pace with international developments, particularly in the field of information technology and the automation of all works.
Saudi women have participated positively in all programs of development by standing with their male brothers, whether as students, employees, teachers, and businesswomen. The Princess Norah Bint Abdulrahman University, with its whole administrative and academic staff, is a witness to the progress of Saudi women’s progress in science and culture.
Despite the economic turmoil in the world, the Kingdom has managed, by the grace of Allah, to pursue its economic development at a steady pace. It is worthy to mention the inauguration of a host of industrial development projects in Jubail and Yanbu, with a total investment of almost SR100 billion. Reforms of regulations and laws have enabled the national economy to develop and diversify; this helped placing the Kingdom at the top of the countries of the world, according to the annual report of the World Bank on the business environment for 2009, and 13th position with regard to the investment environment according to the International Finance Corporation, an affiliate of the World Bank.
We all know that the financial crisis has affected all economies in the world. We participated in the international efforts to counter the effects of the crisis including participation in the G-20 Economic Summit held in London. We thank Allah Almighty that we have not been severely affected by this crisis. This can be attributed to the strength of our financial and economic systems. With the grace of Allah, we overcame the crisis with the least possible losses and we have continued efforts to create a suitable environment for the contribution and growth of the private sector and for making it a strategic partner in the overall development process.
The Kingdom has continued its moderate approach towards the global oil situation and sought, in the wake of the global economic and financial crisis, to minimize the impact of the crisis on the stability of the oil markets and the interests of producing and consuming countries. This policy has resulted in reducing the adverse fluctuations in prices and helped to increase the state’s oil revenues compared with the budget estimates. We will pursue the approach of moderation; we will maintain our oil wealth, and use it as best we can for the benefit of present and future generations.
The budget for the new fiscal year 1431/1432H (2010) was announced. The total spending amounted to SR540 billion, an increase by 14 percent over the previous year. This budget represents a continuation of the approach followed by your state to prioritize human development and increase its efficiency. Therefore, more than SR137 billion was allocated for public and higher education and the manpower training sector, an increase of 13 percent compared with the previous year’s allocation; SR61 billion for health services and the social development sector, an increase of 17 percent; SR46 billion for water, industry and agriculture, an increase of 30 percent; SR23 billion for the transport and communications sector, an increase of 24 percent; and SR21 billion for the municipality service sector.
We all value the ties binding us with the Arab and Islamic world. These ties are of religion, language, race, neighborhood, history, destiny, and common interests and goals. Undoubtedly, they are ties which your state is always seeking to strengthen using all available means, including pursuing Arab reconciliation, observing good neighborliness, removing differences, reconciling all Arab states and Muslim countries and supporting their just struggles. In particular, the primary cause of Arabs and Muslims the Palestinian issue.
We have sought to support this struggle by following two parallel tracks; the first track was to encourage Palestinian reconciliation and to support this in international forums in order to establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. The other one was to continue providing financial and material aid to the Palestinian people. For example, the Kingdom provided $1 billion to rebuild the Gaza Strip following the brutal Israeli attack on this area. We also launched an urgent public campaign throughout the Kingdom to help and provide relief to our people and brothers in Palestine. This is our duty towards our Arab and Muslim brothers at all times and places.
We are part of this world and a member of the international community. With moderate countries, we have common economic interests and we cooperate at different levels. We have the same objectives – to spread security, peace, counter terrorism and corruption in all its forms, and establish principles of development, progress, prosperity and civilization. The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is always keen to continue to strengthen its relations with all moderate countries to achieve joint strategic goals and promote values of cooperation in all areas.
We thank Allah Almighty for making the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia moderate, rational and wise and avoiding it falling into many regional and international conflicts. It has always supported the causes of justice without interfering in the internal affairs of any country. It has also joined the countries of the world to establish world peace and security. It has effectively participated in the field of international relief and in the field of addressing and avoiding the consequences of the financial crisis.
The Kingdom has achieved a high status and is an effective member in all international forums. This would have never happened without Allah’s blessings, first of all, and all our efforts to mobilize for the good of the state, citizens, and humanity.
The Kingdom will continue its course of providing humanitarian aid, supporting just causes and expanding the sphere of its aid to cover many countries, humanitarian funds and international funds. On the external level, one of the successes of the Kingdom was its election as a member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations for Asia, for the coming three years.
Brothers members of the Shura Council:
Your Council has contributed in construction and development through constructive initiatives, sound views and appropriate recommendations, making it an important partner in the development process witnessed by this blessed state. It is playing an effective role within the framework of its responsibilities and tasks. We appreciate its achievements and contributions, alongside other government efforts, to ensure the success of various development programs.
It enjoys acceptance and respect abroad through its effective cooperation with its Arab and international counterparts. Today, your council has become one of the most effective Shura Councils.
On this occasion, I would like to hail the efforts of the members of the council and its entire staff. I would like to remind them of the importance of their role in the wise decision-making process, based on detailed study and supported by scholarly views and practical expertise. Your Council will continue to enjoy the trust of the leadership and the appreciation of the government and citizens.
In conclusion, I pray to Allah to help and guide you and I pray to Him to protect our country from all evil and to maintain its security, stability and prosperity, and to help us to work for the good of our religion, state, and citizens.
Peace be upon you.