His Royal Highness Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States of America, has been attending the third annual conference being held in Washington DC from October 2 to 4 by the Saudi-U.S. Business Council. The Council, established in 1993, comprises about 120 major Saudi and American companies, and works to enhance economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries.
At a reception with Saudi businessmen last night, Prince Bandar referred to the fact that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz attaches great importance to the growth of the private sector. Highlighting the significant role being played by Saudi businessmen and private companies in implementing development projects and laying a solid foundation for industry, trade and services in the Kingdom, Prince Bandar stated that the Saudi economy has accomplished remarkable achievements in the area of transfer of technology over a very short period of time, and added that the credibility of Saudi policies and the proper economic style adopted by the Kingdom constitute the most important elements for economic growth at present and in the future.
In his address to the conference on Wednesday, Prince Bandar praised the efforts of the Saudi-U.S. Business Council to strengthen economic relations between the Kingdom and the United States. He remarked on the Kingdom’s noticeable economic accomplishments during the execution of the development plans over the period 1970 to 1994, when more than one trillion U.S. dollars were invested in building the infrastructure at the most advanced level, and stressed that diversification of sources of income has been the basic goal of the Saudi economy over the past three decades. In this context, Prince Bandar referred to SABIC, which earned more than one billion U.S. dollars in profits last year, proving its potential and ability to compete with success in international markets.
Prince Bandar remarked that the Kingdom, the largest market for goods and services in the Arab world, is the seventh largest market for U.S. products on the international level. He also spoke about the political and economic stability of the Kingdom and said: “A testament to its financial strength is the invitation extended to it recently to join the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) whose members are all advanced developed countries.”
Turning to the current events in the Arab world and the summit concluded in Washington DC on Wednesday, and stressing the necessity for fulfilling commitments made by all sides as agreed on in the 1991 Madrid Conference, Prince Bandar stated:
“Recent events related to the Middle East have not been encouraging, to say the least. They have the potential of unraveling years of hard work and shattering the hopes and aspirations of millions of people. What is at stake not only affects the Palestinians and Israelis but the entire Middle East. And what happens in the Middle East has repercussions throughout the world, as we all know ….. There can be no real and lasting stability and peace in the region without regard for the dignity and future of all its people. And, to be more specific, for Jerusalem’s holy sites which are sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews. Attempts to change the city’s character before final status talks clearly violate the spirit and principles upon which the peace process was launched.”
Prince Bandar commended the courage of President Bill Clinton in organizing the Washington summit, and reiterated that the United States has a special responsibility as a sponsor of the Middle East peace process.
Also attending the Saudi-U.S. Business Council Conference is Minister of Finance and National Economy Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf. Highlighting in his speech the existing distinguished economic relations between the Kingdom and the United States, and praising the significant role played by the Council in enhancing these relations, he stated: “The volume of the Saudi market and the strategic position of the Kingdom provide excellent investment opportunities for the private sector”, adding: “The development strategy being adopted by the Saudi government is based on the principle of extending support to the role that might be played by the private sector in the economic activity”. Dr. Al-Assaf also remarked on the ample natural resources owned by the Kingdom, the infrastructure implemented by it, the stability of the exchange rate of the Saudi riyal and the low rate of inflation; all of which make the Kingdom a country with a healthy environment for investment and economic growth. Dr. Al-Assaf then urged Saudi and American businessmen to benefit from the services and facilities being extended by the Business Council and to work to further develop economic relations between their two countries.