Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz gave an exclusive interview to the Jeddah-based newspaper Okaz, which published it today.
The following is the text of the interview.
Q: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, every citizen feels pride and gratitude for the contributions you have made to their country over the past fifteen years, and in the years before, when you were Minister of Education. How do you yourself view this record of great works?
A: The Kingdom is passing through a period of constant development and continuing prosperity, by God’s grace, and thanks to effective contributions from all its citizens. I am both gratified and proud to see that all I have endeavored to achieve from the time I was appointed Education Minister, has now been taken up by those who are dedicated and who have faithfully translated the objectives and aspirations into concrete accomplishments for the benefit and welfare of our country and our people.
Q: Your Majesty, what are your hopes for the future? What type of development and welfare await the citizens?
A: It is not our style to talk about what we want to do before doing it. This does not mean that we are not doing our best to achieve more positive work. What is clear is that the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan has emphasized invigorating the private sector so that it can effectively contribute to the development process. The private sector is given encouragement and support to broaden its base. We are determined to continue this vital policy. The concerned parties have been instructed to carry out systematic and wide-ranging studies on the realization of this objective, which will further strengthen the Kingdom’s economy.
Q: Your Majesty, what are the state’s plans for the development of qualified Saudi manpower to shoulder their responsibilities in both the private and the public sector?
A: The state’s concern for national manpower is not a mere slogan. It is a clearly-stated objective that we are working hard to achieve. Many quarters are deeply engaged in studies and plans aimed at absorbing nationals in the economic sector in accordance with the requirements of the development process and the need for productivity. The state is concerned with providing sufficient work opportunities for our young people, and I would urge them to seek more skills and learning in areas that are relevant to the national development plans. Greater emphasis should be placed on the technical and vocational specializations needed in the country.
Q: Does Your Majesty consider this a directive to the universities and technical institutes as well as to the private sector in our country?
A: This is not a directive. It is rather a joint responsibility which should be shouldered by all, including parents, officials, and investors. I have confidence in our sons and daughters. They only need encouragement and support, and trust placed in their talents.
Q: After five years of application of the systems of government, the consultative council, and the provincial councils, how does Your Majesty see their impact on our lives?
A: Before I speak about the results, I would like to emphasize that ever since the founding of the Kingdom it has been an Arab and Islamic state abiding by the shariah of God and the traditions of the Prophet. All the rules, regulations, and systems that have been applied in all aspects of life are based solely on Islamic shariah, and all of them have been contributing to the consolidation of the principles and rules that aim to upgrade the standard of planning, organization, and administration as well as to maintain the rights of the citizens.
Q: Your Majesty, did any observations, modifications or additions emerge during the application of these systems?
A: There is no system in the world that does not need revision or improvement. We are now in the process of reviewing everything referred to in my address when I introduced these systems. My perception is that everything in this country is in the process of development, and that the nature of constant growth necessitates continuous review. Because of this, we spare no effort to seek the opinion and advice of experts, in order to improve our systems in a way that matches our principles and requirements. It is beyond doubt that these opinions have contributed and will continue to contribute, by God’s grace, to the introduction of useful modifications in the interest of our beloved country and people.
Q: Following the announcement of the budget which showed growth in the economic situation and an increase in the Kingdom’s GNP, what are the directives of Your Majesty to the private sector?
A: I am delighted with the growth in the private sector’s contribution to the comprehensive development of our country. The Saudi investor has proved that he is aware of his interests, has full trust in the state, and is sure of achieving a good return on his investments inside the Kingdom. Therefore, we expect from this vital sector more projects for productive investment in order to effectively contribute to the achievement of the state’s development policies and plans, which aim at diversifying the sources of the national income and boosting the productivity of the private sector. The state, for its part, will not hesitate to provide support until we have translated the Sixth Five-Year Plan into a concrete achievement.
Q: There are a lot of foreign media reports concerning the situation of security in the region in general and in the Kingdom and the Gulf in particular. Does Your Majesty have any comment on this?
A: We thank Almighty God for the security, peace, and stability He has bestowed on us. Although part of the modern world, we are reassured by our safety and by the deep-rooted base of our security. We are sure of the cohesion and solidarity of our people and of their awareness and alertness. They have strong affiliations to their homeland, and possess the ability to protect their interests. They wish to strengthen the domestic front, support our development march, and enable us to carry on with the construction and development of the entire country. They also wish to continue effective contribution towards humanity, through firm, balanced, and moderate policies which do not envisage any evil towards any person, but wish good for all people. Therefore, we call upon the foreign media to search out the truth and accuracy of what they publish concerning our country. We also call upon the media not to apply to our country their perceptions or comparisons, nor the experiences of others. We are a homogeneous and coherent society. Nothing can divert us from adherence to our Islamic creed or from the preservation of the security and safety of our country, and the tranquillity enjoyed by our citizens. We do not accept that anyone cast doubts concerning our stability or infringe upon our security.
Q: Your Majesty, there is persistent talk about the presence of risks that threaten the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
A: As long as the GCC leaders and people are aware of the importance of solidarity and cooperation among themselves, there will be, God willing, no danger to any of the states. Hence, there is no question of halting the march of the GCC. We feel that there is a strong determination to cooperate and to work together to safeguard the interests of our countries and peoples. The recent summit in Doha has confirmed how serious the GCC countries are about safeguarding their independence, gains, and stability, and the interests of their countries and peoples.
Q: Your Majesty, is there any message you would like to give to the Saudi media?
A: I am happy about the level reached by the Saudi media, the objectivity they exercise, and the way they shoulder their responsibilities. I require of them that they produce more work that is serious and constructive, for the interest of the nation and of the citizens, and that they continue to clarify the facts that underscore the principles on which this country was based to those who are ignorant of them and to those who disregard them. We have nothing to hide or to fear. It would please us if the world knew the facts about us as they are, and not in the way certain foreign media are trying to depict them.