Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Receives Leaders of Delegations

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Riyadh – Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense held a series of meetings with leaders and heads of delegations that participated in Sunday’s Arab-Islamic-US Summit in Riyadh.

He received President Idriss Deby Itno of the Republic of Chad where the two officials reviewed bilateral relations in various areas and a number of issues of common interest.

The meeting was attended Advisor at the Royal Court Ahmed al-Khatib, Advisor at the Royal Court, General Supervisor of the Office of Minister of Defense Fahd bin Mohammed al-Issa, Chadian Foreign Minister Hissein Brahim Taha, Chadian Minister of Defense Bichara Issa Djadallah and a number of officials.

Prince Mohammed also met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, where they reviewed aspects of relations between the two countries and latest developments in the region.

He also met with the Minister of Defense of the Nigeria Mansur Mohammed Dan-Ali and addressed bilateral relations, especially in the defense field.

The Deputy Crown Prince received the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

During the meeting, they tackled fraternal relations and a number of issues of common interest.

The meeting was attended by Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz and UAE National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

In other news, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed patronized the graduation ceremony of the 92nd batch of the cadets of King Faisal Air.

Upon arrival to the venue, the Deputy Crown Prince was received by a number of senior military officials.

The commander of the college stressed that the graduates have completed their education and training and are fully prepared.

He also stated that among the graduates, nine were from three Arab countries: Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.

Cadet Marzouk al-Anzi delivered the graduates’ speech during which he expressed their joy in graduating and expressed their gratitude for Deputy Crown Prince for patronizing the ceremony.

The graduates then recited their pledge, and then the Deputy Crown awarded outstanding cadets of the 92nd batch with their awards.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a photo call took place with the Deputy Crown Prince and the cadets.

The Prince also patronized the graduation ceremony of a new batch of students from the College of Command and Staff of the Armed Forces.

A speech ceremony was held on the occasion which was attended by a number of princes and officials.

Saudi Arabia Launches ‘SAMI’ for Military Industries

Riyadh– Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday the establishment of a new national military industries company within the framework of Vision 2030.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Defense and Chairman of the Public Investment Fund, said that “Saudi Arabian Military Industries” (SAMI) would be a major contributor to the goals set out in Vision 2030, which states that 50 percent of Saudi Arabia’s military procurement spending will be localized.

Established by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), SAMI will manufacture products and provide services across four business units: air systems, which include maintenance and repair of fixed-wing aircraft as well as manufacturing and repair of unmanned air vehicles; land systems, which include manufacturing and repair of military vehicles; weapons and missiles – including ammunition -; and defense electronics, which include radars and sensors as well as communication systems and electronic warfare.

The government-owned company aims to become one of the world’s top 25 defense firms by 2030. It is expected to directly contribute around SAR 14 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP in 2030, invest over SAR 6 billion in research and development by 2030, and create over 40,000 jobs, many of which will be in the engineering and technical fields.

By partnering with universities, the company will provide students with apprenticeships and careers in cutting edge technologies which were previously unavailable in the Kingdom.

In line with Vision 2030, SAMI will contribute to diversifying the Saudi economy for the 21st century by reducing dependence on oil, while protecting and strengthening national security.

“While the Kingdom is one of the world’s top five spenders on security and defense overall, only around two percent of our military procurement is domestic,” Prince Mohammed said.

SAMI’s four business units closely complement the Kingdom’s future military requirements and build on existing local capabilities.

SAMI will establish companies through joint ventures with global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), as well as cooperating with local military companies. The firm will seek to create new business units, to ensure the company is aligned with the latest developments in the military industries sector.

Saudi Arabia to Privatize Four Sectors This Year

Khobar– A Saudi official said the Kingdom was planning to privatize four sectors this year, including the Saline Water Conversion Corporation, a power generation company under Saudi Electricity Co., grain silos and sports clubs.

In an interview with Bloomberg News published on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of economy and planning Mohammed Al Tuwaijri said that his country has set a list of 16 entities that are “prime for privatization”, along with more than 100 public-private partnership opportunities.

Tuwaijri minimized the impact of the drop in oil prices, which fell below $50 this month, on the plan to balance the budget.

He said the scenario shared publicly takes into account “our ability to execute a good percentage of our plans with oil stabilizing at current levels.”

Asked by Bloomberg when the kingdom would sell international bonds again, the Saudi official said that the finance ministry’s debt management office might decide to knock the market in the fourth quarter this year.

The size of the issuance will depend on market conditions and investor appetite but could potentially be as much as $10 billion, he said as quoted by Bloomberg.

In an interview aired last week on Saudi national television, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that non-oil revenue in the first quarter of 2017 exceeded expectations.

Asked about measures that the Kingdom would take should oil prices fall below $30, the deputy crown prince said: “We expect the deficit in the second, third, and fourth quarters not to be less than 44 percent, because we have raised our expenditures again.”

He added that several factors have helped the Kingdom reduce its budget deficit, including the OPEC Agreement, the improvement of oil prices and the rationalization of spending.

Deputy Crown Prince: No Points of Agreement with Iran

Riyadh – Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that there were no points of agreement with Tehran, noting that the Iranian regime was based on “extremist ideologies stipulated in its constitution.”

In a 50-minute interview with Journalist Dawood Al-Shiryan, which was aired on Tuesday by Saudi media channels, Prince Mohammed said: “How to talk with a person or a regime that has a firm conviction that its system is based on an ideology of extremism enshrined in its Constitution and stipulated in the command of Khomeini.”

“Reaching the Qiblah of Muslims is a main goal for the Iranian regime. We will not wait until the battle becomes in Saudi Arabia but we will work to have the battle in Iran rather than in Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Asked about the means to find a solution to the crisis in Syria, the deputy crown prince described the situation in Syria as “very complex”.

“There is no doubt that former US President Barack Obama missed a lot of important opportunities in which there could have been a very big change in Syria,” he noted, adding: “Today Syria has become an international issue. Russia, a major country, is there. The US is there. All the five major countries are there. Any friction among these countries may cause a crisis that far greater than the Middle East crisis.”

On Yemen, Prince Mohammed said that war was not a choice for Saudi Arabia, but was something inevitable.

“It is true that we were trying to make a political initiative to avoid war and we were opening a discussion line at that time, provided they [Houthi rebels] did not approach Aden, because if they approached Aden, it would be very difficult to discuss a political solution,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the desired result did not happen and were forced to enter operations,” the prince added.

He also denied rumors about disagreements between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the war in Yemen, stressing that enemies were seeking to create “as much rumors as possible among allies.”

Regarding the Kingdom’s relations with Egypt, the deputy crown prince said they were “excellent”.

“The Saudi-Egyptian relationship is a strong and solid relationship,” he stated.

He noted in this regard that the two countries have always stood by each other.

“No negative attitude has been taken by the Egyptian government towards Saudi Arabia, and no single negative attitude has been taken by the Saudi government towards the Egyptian government,” the prince stressed.

On the internal level, the deputy crown prince said that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 has contributed to “great achievements” since its adoption.

“I think that great achievements have so far been reached. Having a look from 50,000 feet altitude, we will find that the proportion of deficit is less than what has been forecast by all analysts, both at home and abroad, for 2015 and 2016 and also for the 2017 budget,” he stated.

Prince Mohammed went on to say that non-oil revenues nearly doubled over the past two years from nearly SR 111 billion to about SR 200 billion.

He added that Vision 2030 would be implemented through its three-faceted programs: the first phase runs until 2020, the second ends in 2025 and the third will be completed in 2030.

The deputy crown prince, who is also chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), said that the Public Investment Fund (PIF) was one of the most important pillars of Vision 2030.

Asked about Aramco’s role, Prince Mohammed said Aramco’s IPO would provide huge sums to the PIF, adding: “This Fund will help to target many sectors inside and outside Saudi Arabia, and one of the most important sectors is the mining sector.”

The deputy crown prince underlined the importance of programs included in Vision 2030, which would stimulate the private sector “very strongly”.

“Sales to the private sector will increase very strongly,” he stated, adding that the coming years would witness a high government capital expenditure along with spending from the reserves mentioned in the financial balance program to develop the private sector.

Prince Mohammed stated that after Aramco’s IPO, “the Public Investment Fund will spend in Saudi Arabia more than SR500 billion in just three years.”

“You can imagine this spending in the military industry, the automotive industry, the entertainment industry or tourism industry or other industries, which will have an impact on the private sector, and will strongly stimulate their sales in all sectors, whether in retail, transportation or service sector,” the prince said.

Meeting in Washington Discusses Saudi-US Economic Partnership

Washington – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lauded on Wednesday historic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

He also underlined his country’s commitment to facilitate US-Saudi economic relations, noting that the US would support the Saudi private sector, and hoping that the Kingdom would increase its investments in America within its Vision 2030.

Tillerson made his remarks at the second annual US-Saudi Arabia CEO Summit, which concluded Wednesday in Washington.

The summit gathered Saudi and US government officials and business leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities to expand US-Saudi economic partnership.

Participants included Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid Al-Qassabi, Chairman of Saudi Arabian Airlines and CEO of Saudi Research and Marketing Group Ghassan Al-Shibl, and Khaled Al-Seif, Vice Chairman of the Committee for International Trade.

The US Secretary of State stressed the strong partnership between Washington and Riyadh, which extends over 80 years.

“I’m pleased to be here today to reaffirm the very strong partnership that exists between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We have a long relationship with Saudi Arabia that extends over 80 years, and our support for a strong and steady partner on economic cooperation remains as firm as ever,” he stated.

Tillerson talked about his several meetings with Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel al-Jubeir, and his eagerness to work with Saudi Arabia to resolve problems facing the Middle East.

He added that the US Administration was committed to “using its good offices to help facilitate partnerships between American businesses and Saudi Arabia.”

“By choosing US companies for its procurement and service needs, the Kingdom will reap the benefits of what our private sector is best known for – superior technology, high quality products, creativity, professionalism, and reliable service – and importantly, partners you can count on to deliver on their commitments,” Tillerson said.

“The Saudi Government and Saudi businesses can be confident they are working with companies that abide by the highest anti-corruption standards and laws in the world,” he added.

Tillerson expressed the US support to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which he said sought to transform the Kingdom’s economy and society.

He lauded the Saudi leadership’s “specific commitments to increase foreign ownership on listed companies; to boost the women’s workforce participation rate from 22 percent to 30 percent; to augment the private sector’s contribution to GDP from 40 percent to 65 percent; to move to free market pricing in place of subsidies in energy; to raise the share of non-oil exports from 16 percent to 50 percent of non-oil GDP; and to increase dramatically the capacity and quality of the health and education sectors through substantial capital investment.”

“We encourage these kinds of reforms globally, and we certainly applaud Saudi Arabia’s leadership in pursuing this vision and economic progress for the region,” he stated.

For his part, Qassabi said the summit was aimed at creating new job opportunities and exchanging views on the means to promote economic cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia.

He added that major investment opportunities were present in strategic fields, such as oil, energy, trade, tourism and healthcare, as well as renewable energy and construction.

The Saudi minister noted that US firms could also benefit from the privatization of Saudi companies.

President and CEO of the US Chamber Thomas J. Donohue hailed the outcome of the meeting between US President Donald Trump and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month.

He added that the two countries’ leaderships share the same geopolitical, security and economic visions, which are aimed at promoting growth rates and achieving stability.

“Strategic strength is driven by economic strength. When American businesses partner with Saudi Arabia, they help grow our domestic economy and extend influence throughout the global economy,” Donohue said in his opening remarks.

US, Saudi Arabia Share Similar Views on the Region

Washington – Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman reviewed strategies to fight terrorism and other defense issues with US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday in Washington.

A statement issued by the Pentagon said both defense officials examined US-Saudi military cooperation in the fight against ISIS.

Mattis and Prince Mohammed also discussed “confronting Iran’s destabilizing regional activities,” the statement added.

Several US senior officials were present at the meeting, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, Senior Advisor to the US President Mr. Jared Kushner, National Security Adviser H.R McMaster, senior counselor to the President for Economic Initiatives Ms. Dina Powell and others.

Discussions also touched on the latest regional and international developments, as well as efforts to fight terrorism.

At the outset of the meeting, the two parties expressed their satisfaction with the level of rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and the US on issues and files that have been jointly reviewed. They also agreed to undertake several mutual initiatives in defense cooperation.

On the Saudi side, the meeting was attended by Minister of State and Member of the Cabinet Dr. Musaad Al-Aiban, Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir; Chief of the General Intelligence Khaled Al-Humaidan, as well as other officials.

Saudi Arabia, US Agree on Dangers of Iranian Expansionism

Saudi Arabia announced “a historic turning point” in ties shared with the United States after President Donald Trump welcomed Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the White House.

A Bloomberg report cited a senior adviser to the Deputy Crown Prince said in a statement after Tuesday’s meeting that “relations had undergone a period of difference of opinion”.

The Saudi statement said Trump had a “great understanding” of the bilateral relationship. The president and the prince “share the same views on the gravity of the Iranian expansionist moves in the region,” the adviser said.

“However, today’s meeting has put things on the right track, and marked a significant shift in relations, across all political, military, security and economic fields.”

The praise for Trump’s “great understanding” of US-Saudi relations reflects the eagerness for a renewed alliance after deep strains with former President Barack Obama, who crafted the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

The new administration sees Saudi Arabia “as a crucial part of the Middle East and an important country to have a positive relationship with – even if there are irritants in the relationship,” said Simon Henderson, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and director of the institute’s Gulf and Energy Policy Program.

“This is at odds with the Obama administration, so they want to make that clear distinction.”

Saudi Arabia had viewed with unease the administration of US President Barack Obama, whom they felt considered Riyadh’s alliance with Washington less important than negotiating the Iran nuclear deal.

Saudi-Greek Summit in Riyadh to Discuss Regional Situation

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Riyadh – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and visiting Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos held talks in Riyadh on Tuesday at al-Yamamah Palace.

During talks, they discussed Saudi-Greek relations and ways of promoting and developing them in various cooperative fields as well as the latest regional developments.

Both sides also signed two memorandums of understanding for bilateral cooperation in the domains of satellites and scientific and technical cooperation.

The first one, which was for cooperation in the field of satellites and their application, was signed by Prince Turki Bin Saud Bin Muhammad, president of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Kotzias.

The second MoU for cooperation in science and technology was signed by Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed and Greek Minister of International Economic Relations and Foreign Trade.

Following the session of talks, King Salman decorated Pavlopoulos with the King Abdulaziz Necklace, and the Greek president awarded the King the highest medal of Greece.

Earlier, the Greek President was accorded an official reception at the palace – national anthems of the two countries were played and the president inspected the guard of honor.

King Salman also hosted a luncheon banquet in honor of Pavlopoulos and his accompanying delegation.

The reception and banquet were attended by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, deputy premier and minister of interior, Riyadh Emir Prince Faisal bin Bandar, Minister of the National Guard Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Minister of Culture and Information Adel al-Turaifi, Minister of Trade and Investment Majed al-Qasabi and others.

On the other hand, King Salman also received at al-Yamamah Palace on Tuesday U.S. Sen. John McCain.

During the meeting, they reviewed the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Moreover, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense later received John McCain as the two parties discussed bilateral relations and means of enhancing them.

Deputy Crown Prince Chairs Meeting of Saudi Economic Affairs, Development Council

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Riyadh – Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, chaired at al-Yammamah Palace a meeting of the Economic Affairs and Development Council.

During the meeting, the council reviewed a number of economic and developmental issues, including the council’s second annual report submitted by the secretariat of the economic affairs council, office of the strategic management and projects management office of the council.

The council also discussed the work strategy of the council for the coming period and mechanisms of enhancing its governance through reviewing works, achievements and constraints and developing appropriate mechanisms to address the shortcomings and raise the performance levels.

The council was briefed on the agenda of the coming sessions and weekly, monthly and periodic reports during the current year. It also discussed outcomes of the performance indicators and statistics of the council’s sessions, recommendations and decisions.

The council was also briefed on the perception to restructure its committees in order to achieve the level of governance, raise achievements, increase the levels of coordination and ensure concentration of efforts to achieve the aims of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Vision 2030.

In addition, the council discussed the already-achieved and future plans and the main challenges and risks in addition to ways of overcoming them. The council has taken a number of necessary recommendations regarding these issues.

In other news, Prince Mohammed met with the CEO of Third Point LLC, Daniel S. Loeb, in Riyadh on Tuesday to discuss areas of cooperation and investment opportunities in the Kingdom and around the world. The discussions are in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Saudi Minister of Energy and Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid al-Falih attended the meeting.

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Receives President of Chechnya

Dammam- Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has received the Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov. During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations, as well as a number of issues of common interest.

The reception was attended by a number of officials, including Minister of State and Cabinet’s Member Musaed bin Mohammed al-Aiban; Commerce and Investment Minister Majed al-Qasabi and Fahad al-Issa, advisor at the Royal Court and general supervisor of the office of the Minister of Defense.

The session was also attended by the delegation accompanying the Chechen President.