Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Prince Salman and Somali and Iraqi Witnesses! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Norway received its Saudi guest, Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz, with an official warm welcoming as he met King Harald V of Norway who postponed attending the annual national cultural festival held in the city of Bergen in order to meet the prince. He was also received by the Norwegian Prime Minister, Deputy Parliament Speaker, members of the [Standing] Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense and the Foreign Minister who opened his meeting with Prince Salman by saying “there is nothing like face-to-face communication.” The prince said, “I agree with you…allow me to inform you of the issuance of approval for opening a Saudi embassy in Norway.” Prince Salman also met the Minister of Research and Higher Education and the Mayor of Oslo.

Upon arrival in Oslo, the first thing that came to mind was the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords; how could it not when most of the discussions were purely political, and clear and profound, starting from the history and the internal affairs of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz’s focus on education and issues relating to Saudi women, to regional circumstances and the peace process. Norwegian officials heard from Prince Salman [about] his country’s position on many issues and that Saudi Arabia has called for peace and stability since the King Fahd (may God rest his soul) peace initiative to today’s Arab initiative that was proposed by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, and that Riyadh, based on the initiative of King Abdullah, called for interfaith dialogue, underlining his country’s respect for [other] religions. The prince explained the importance of Saudi as an Islamic country and a place of revelation before being an oil state, highlighting that his country supports peace because it wants to devote [itself] to developing its citizens, adding that those who stand against peace are the ones who want to distract their people from the most important issues; development, the nation and the citizen. Prince Salman added that the Israelis must also strive towards peace as they are in Arab and Islamic surroundings, and it would be in their interest, emphasising that the Palestinians have rights that must be restored.

When the Norwegian Foreign Minister spoke to him about the Saudi role, Prince Salman said, “Allow me to say, without arrogance, that Saudi Arabia is not searching for a role but rather it is the role that is seeking Saudi Arabia.” In one of the discussions, Prince Salman said that his country doesn’t go after bright slogans but rather [it seeks] serious work. He was told that sometimes bright things can be good, and prince responded by saying, “Lightning only shines if the skies are filled with clouds.” The host laughed and said, “I can only agree with you your highness.”

After a long day of discussions, as Prince Salman left the dinner party held by the Minister of Research and Higher Education, a crowd of Norwegians and members of the Arab and Muslim communities living abroad thronged together, and for a moment I thought it was a demonstration. I was surprised; why would they be protesting against him? But the crowd was there to greet the prince and among the cheering and clapping two young men shouted “Prince, Prince!” so he stopped! They quickly headed towards his car and security immediately moved [towards them]. The prince said, “Leave them.” The first man shook the prince’s hand and said, “I’m from Somalia…I wanted to greet you,” so the prince welcomed him, and then the other man came forward and said, “I’m Iraqi, you’re welcome [here] Prince.” Prince Salman smiled and said, “God willing, Iraq will become stable.”

It’s as if the crowd that was made up of Arabs and Muslims and was waiting for the prince had heard what he said in a frank and clear manner as he explained the policy of his country under the leadership of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, so they came to give him the best kind of greetings.