Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, yesterday attended a reception held in his honor by the citizens of the Governorate of Bisha in Asir Province, and was welcomed by Asir Province Governor Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, the head of the intelligence administration, and a number of senior officials.
Earlier, Crown Prince Abdullah attended a lunch party at the site of the King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz Dam in Bisha Valley. In dedicating the King Fahd Dam, Crown Prince Abdullah pushed the control button for the water drainage valve. The occasion was attended by a number of princes, ministers, GCC ministers, civil and military high-ranking officials and citizens.
In a welcoming address on the occasion, Minister of Agriculture and Water Dr. Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz Ibn Muammar reported that there are now fifty groundwater purification stations in addition to over one thousand smaller water projects, about 570 water tankers serving over three thousand villages scattered throughout the Kingdom, and 25 desalination stations producing 520 million gallons per day. As for dams, the Ministry is building a total of 211, and 25 of these are currently in operation. The King Fahd Dam in Bisha, which cost SR 246 million (U.S. $ 65.6), has a height of 103 meters and is 80 meters thick, providing a storage capacity of 325 million cubic meters of rain water. Minister Muammar went on to announce that in its budget for the fiscal year 1999 his Ministry has been allocated by King Fahd the sum of SR 84 million (U.S. $ 22.4 million) for the establishment of a water purification station at the dam, with a capacity of 40,000 cubic meters per day, in addition to a 40-kilometer-long pipe to transport water from the dam to the town of Bisha.
Crown Prince Abdullah also patronized the opening ceremony for the Bisha Cement Factory. In a speech on the occasion, Minister of Industry and Electricity Dr. Hashim Ibn Abdullah Al-Yamani said that the contribution of the industrial sector in the non-oil GDP amounted to over 13 percent, and that the national industries registered a profit of more than SR 23 billion (U.S. $ 6.13 billion) last year, adding that exports currently go to over 118 countries.