Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia’s economy is capable of withstanding global economic crises and the current drop in oil prices, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz said on Friday during his visit to Washington.
Speaking at an event hosted by the US–Saudi Arabian Business Council, King Salman said the Saudi economy possesses “solid fundamentals which allow it to withstand economic as well as regional and global crises” and that it was capable of “overcoming the challenges posed by current low oil prices.”
Oil prices plummeted some 60 percent since last June after hitting highs of 115 US dollars per barrel just months earlier, eventually falling towards the 40-dollar mark earlier this year.
The Kingdom led efforts late last year to keep oil production levels by global oil cartel OPEC’s members unchanged.
Some producers had suggested cutting production in order to drive up prices amid tepid demand from European and US markets. But Riyadh argued it was best for the global oil market to let prices recover naturally over time and urged OPEC members to instead offload surplus supplies to the lucrative Asian market.
King Salman said on Friday that Saudi Arabia, as one of the world’s top oil suppliers, “continues to do everything it can to safeguard the interests of the global economy and its growth, in line with the interests of [oil] producers and consumers, also promoting investment in different energy sectors.”
The King also reiterated the importance of the seven-decade US–Saudi alliance, saying both countries had long worked together to promote global stability and security.
The event was attended by Saudi and American business leaders, and King Salman called for greater economic cooperation between both countries and for US companies to boost their investments in Saudi Arabia.
The King said he had instructed the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) to ease existing regulations on the operation of foreign, and particularly US, companies in the Kingdom, in order to boost mutual investment and trade between both countries.
King Salman’s Washington visit is his first to the US since acceding to the Saudi throne. Earlier on Friday the King met with President Barack Obama to discuss a number of regional issues including the current conflicts in Yemen and Syria, and the Iran nuclear deal.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Friday Riyadh was “satisfied” with “assurances” given by the Obama administration that both countries would work “to counter Iran’s negative activities” in the region.
In May, before the deal with Iran was agreed, Obama made pledges of “ironclad” support for Gulf countries to defend themselves against any possibility of attacks by Iran.
Jubeir said Riyadh and Washington had now agreed on “fast-tracking . . . [US] military systems and weapons technology” to the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, during his visit King Salman also met with former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton at his residence in Washington, as well as prominent Arab and Muslim personalities in the US.