Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Delivered his keynote speech at the inauguration of the Shura Council’s annual session in Riyadh yesterday.
The Following is the full text of the speech:
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, prayer and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah and his family and companions.
Dear brothers, peace be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings.
With Allah’s help and blessings, we open the work of the second year of the fifth term of the Majlis Al-Shura, asking Allah Almighty to help us all to serve our religion, our country and our people, the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
We cannot achieve our hopes and aspirations without a dependence on Allah and the help of the people of this country. If this is in place, our dreams will come true. I say this because I have to point out that 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. A State that is based on the word of Tawheed (oneness of God) and whose flag was raised by the late King Abdulaziz, is able (God willing) to achieve what it seeks patiently.
The unity and power of this country imposes a collective responsibility on us to defend it at a time when the ambitions of our enemies, haters and aggressors have increased. This requires us to be vigilant. Therefore, there is a double responsibility that has to be shared by everyone wherever they are. The homeland is for all of us. All of us will be measured according to our efforts, sacrifices and dedication to a country whose foundation is based on the pillars of Islam. This is the criteria that will test the caliber of the people of this country.
The ‘word is like a sword’
You are all aware 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.
We are part of the Arab, Islamic, and international world. Our role is based on defending their rights and making sacrifices for unity in their ranks. Any fair person cannot deny our role in this regard. We will always be keen to adopt their just cases. This will only be achieved through unity. At the international level, our position is clear and based on friendship and promotion of peace among peoples and nations.
Dialogue and moderation
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 contained in a number of verses of the Holy Quran and is thus an important basis for rule in Islam. From this launch pad, the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has shown its determination, since its inception by the Founder King Abdulaziz, to institute the Majlis Al-Shura, to ensure debate and discussion take place on issues related to the motherland and her citizens.
We meet here annually under the Majlis Al-Shura dome, with open eyes and minds to consider the best achievements of your government, internally and abroad. We are also here to learn lessons and to have a look at the future, in order to protect the motherland and her citizens against regional and international fallouts inflicted on the region. Your government, through its efforts, has managed to tackle those fallouts with wisdom and insight. It has saved the country by keeping it away from such dangers. This has protected its gains and ensured the process of development continues.
Dear brothers, since we met last year at the opening of the meeting of the first year of the fifth session of the Majlis Al-Shura, the government of Saudi Arabia has continued to carry out comprehensive policies to 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 we are completely satisfied; rather 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 motherland and her people.
Countering infiltration at the Southern Border
Internally, 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 measures have seen us carry out a number of successes and pre-emptive strikes. The security initiatives will continue (God willing) 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, to shelters in the Jizan Region, we ordered the establishment of 10,000 housing units to be delivered as soon as possible.
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 (GCC) 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 commend the outcome of this session which includes the establishment of the Customs Union, the Common Gulf Market, the Monetary Union, the electricity grid and the economic study into the rail link between the GCC countries.
Holy site developments
Allah has honored this country by selecting it to serve the Two Holy Mosques. In this field, 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 monorail. We will do our best to continue to provide security and comfort for pilgrims and visitors.
Education and jobs
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 of employment over the next 20 years. We are determined to create more than 200,000 educational jobs to correct the status of teachers. This is part of our endeavor to provide enough job opportunities for our citizens.
On the social front, 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, I inaugurated King Abdullah University of Science and Technology 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.
Justice system reforms
With the grace of Allah, the justice system has been developed through the issue of two new regulations for the Judiciary and the Court of Grievances, completing the constitution of judicial councils and supporting this sector through the adoption of the 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.
Saudi women’s progress
Saudi women have participated positively in all programs of development by standing alongside their male brothers 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.
Steady economic growth
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, 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.
Global financial crisis
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.
Oil price stability
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, 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.
Palestinian cause,Arab unity
We all value the ties binding us to 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, which is the cause of Palestine.
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 Al-Quds as its capital. The other track 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 bolster 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 of 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 homeland, 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 front, 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.
Shura Council achievements
Brothers and members of the Majlis Al-Shura, your council has contributed to building and development through constructive initiatives, sound views and appropriate recommendations, making it an important partner in the development process witnessed by this blessed country. 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, homeland, and citizens.
Peace be upon you.