No wonder that the bulk of Saudi newspaper headlines covering King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz’s speech to the Shura Council were similar, and the reason for this is that the King touched upon the priorities and concerns of all Saudi citizens. In his speech, the King said “our current achievements have not met all our aspirations which we have sought to ensure our country is ranked among the developed countries of the world.” King Abdullah added that “the homeland is for all of us” and the criteria for this is measured by the dedication and devotion to serve Saud Arabia.
King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz went on to say that “the word is like a sword. I urge everyone to realize this. If the word becomes a tool for settling scores, to gossip, and to charge people randomly, then the word will become a tool for destruction. This does not mean a ban on constructive criticism. Therefore, I ask everyone to fear Allah in their words and actions, to shoulder their responsibilities and not to become a burden on their religion, homeland, and parents.”
The King’s speech confirmed that the country unified by its founder, King Abdulaziz, may God rest his soul, on the basis of justice, equality, and security, was and continues to be a homeland for all Saudi Arabians, and that the sole criteria of citizenship is loyalty and dedication. This is a clear message. The Saudi monarch also spoke of issues that have recently been discussed by the public, including for example the issue of “equal representation” that was determined by the higher court, in a historic moment for the judiciary and Saudi Arabia as a whole.
The King was also very open when he informed his citizens that what is being achieved in “the homeland…for all of us” does not meet the aspirations of Saudi Arabians who wish to see their country on the same level as the advanced countries. [The King said that] Saudi Arabia is a country with a sublime message due to its religious position and its political moderation and the gifts Allah blessed it with, first and foremost, its sons and daughters. This is a speech that answers every aggressor that is trying to incite the country and [Saudi] society against anybody who calls for reform and development, which are the basis for all progress.
In order to ensure this progress, the King was clear when he warned against something that results in more chaos than killing, and we have seen this [incitement] whether this is in articles or information or inflammatory fatwas. However the King did not respond in kind, and he warned of the consequences of harmful speech, calling for those who take these words at face value “not to become a burden on their religion, homeland, and parents.” The King stressed that this does not mean a ban on constructive criticism, which is something that is consistent with his ambition to see his country on the same level as advanced countries. This was also a message to all officials who play down criticisms and defects, as well as a message to the citizens to the effect that the decision-makers can be [constructively] criticized. The King did not call for the gagging of gossip or the suppression of media freedoms, but he called for responsibility, and this is legitimate.
It is true that the Saudi monarch discussed a number of issues in his speech to the Shura Council; however his brief speech deeply touched his citizens, as it dealt with pressing issues that are manifested by some [citizens] legitimately or illegitimately. Others preferred to keep silent on such issues in the interests of the country, as they were convinced that the ruler would not ignore this, and the King did not, but instead clarified everything.