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King abdullah''s address - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Sincere, honest, and well-timed is how all of us described the speech of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, as every citizen of Saudi Arabia pledged allegiance to the new monarch.

In his inaugural address to his people, King Abdullah indicated the rule of the house of Saud will continue to derive its power from the Kingdom’s citizens who take part in the decision making process. His words revealed he intended to maintain strong links between the sovereign and his people in order to ensure prosperity spreads to all sections of Saudi society, as has always been the case.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz is eager to establish strong bonds with the citizens of Saudi Arabia and ensure they have a say in government policies in order for affluence and justice to triumph. Convinced that justice is the main component of a successful reign, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques announced he would remain informed of all matters that concern his citizens. This is a continuation of his policies as Crown Prince, in the past few years, when he oversaw internal and external government policies.

The efforts of the Saudi leadership, embodied by King Abdullah, to foster justice and equality amongst its citizens will no doubt increase integration and strengthen the basis of the Kingdom making it even stronger in the face of external challenges.

It can only be the case that the effort the Saudi leadership, embodied by King Abdullah has invested in bringing about justice and equality will lead to more integration and to the strengthening of the Kingdom, rendering it unwavering in the face of adversity. The need to reform and adapt to ever changing circumstances has become a national necessity. If Saudi Arabia is to weather the storm, it will require a unified and integrated front, between the people and their leaders who will benefit from their citizens’ experience and knowledge.

Justice is crucial if true national cohesion is to be achieved and the integration of the leadership and the nation strengthened. I use the term nation to refer to the people of Saudi Arabia purposefully; it is a wonderful word that adequately describes our country, a continent populated by several tribes. This is precisely why we need words and actions to bring together different tribes and people and eliminate tribal sentiments and ethnic distinctions to become a unified Muslim Saudi nation.

In his most honest and sincere address, King Abdullah asserted that all the needs and recommendations of all his citizens will be considered during his reign. This indicates that His Highness will continue on the path of reform, necessary for political, economic, and social progress in the Kingdom.

Undoubtedly, King Abdullah supports reform as he was the first leader to discuss the importance of national dialogue and the need to understand the opinions of others as an initial step towards achieving national unity. With his vast experience, the monarch knows only too well that reform needs to accompany regional and international changes. This will ensure the Kingdom adapts to changing circumstances, in keeping with its religion, values, and convictions.

In the current climate, as Saudi Arabia faces a number of serious challenges, cultural dialogue will guide the nation on the right path and ensure all efforts are focused on fighting potential crises. National unity implies strong ties between all sections of the Saudi nation. As the cornerstone of national dialogue, it ought to be devoid of favoritism and compliments that might distract us from our real goals.

This constructive dialogue amongst Saudis requires sincerity, transparency, honesty, boldness and objectivity in addressing problems, all characteristics found in King Abdullah.

Our goal of serving the nation, with its variety of classes and groups, can only be achieved through freedom of thought and equality. Fear has no place in the midst of progressive and independent ideas that strive to highest interest of the nation.

Things have changed and we must deal with new realities as best we can to serve our unity, nationalism, and mutual interests.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s speech emphasized the freedom of all citizens and their right to express their opinions with the framework of Islamic Sharia (Islamic law) whilst respecting the rights of others so as to eliminate fear and encourage freedom of expression.

In the midst of all the regional and international problems currently affecting Saudi Arabia , the new leadership of King Abdullah shares the concerns of all citizens on the economy, social issues and politics. This is why the sovereign, during his time as Crown Prince, in a historical move, announced the establishment of the National Center for Dialogue. The new center plays an important role in fostering a culturally mature society that is free from superficial arguments and disputes that do not reflect the authentic culture of Saudi Arabia .

A number of political and economic decisions have been issued by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz as he strives for national reform and development. His Highness remains in charge of the Supreme Economic Council which issues key economic pronouncements.

In sum, in his address on Wednesday night, King Abdullah demonstrated the major role every Saudi citizen plays in taking part in key decisions that affect every aspect of their lives, thereby complementing the role of the leadership.

I wish our wise and righteous leadership success and prosperity in achieving the best for the nation of Saudi Arabia which ought to remain supportive of its leaders to ensure prosperity and success.

Abdel Wahab bin Said al Qahtani

Abdel Wahab bin Said al Qahtani is an academic at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

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