1999 News Story

King Fahd inaugurates new session of Shura Council

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz today addressed the Consultative

Council (Majlis Al-Shura) at the beginning of the third year of its second term. In

attendance was Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince

Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and

Inspector-General Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, and a number of princes, ministers,

governors, religious scholars, and senior civil and military officials.

In his address, King Fahd stated that the Shura Council now occupies its proper place among

the national bodies responsible for the country's development, and has received worldwide

recognition.  He praised its effective contribution to decision-making over the six years

of its existence, and declared that the decision to expand the membership from 60 to 90 was

a good one. He said the Kingdom's experience of Shura [consultation] had proved feasible

because, emanating from Shariah [Islamic Law], it is characterized by justice, sincerity

and dedication to the good of the country.  He went on to recall that this inauguration

comes within the nation's celebrations of the centennial of the event that led to the

establishment of the Kingdom by Abdul Aziz Bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud.
Turning to the global economy, particularly the oil market and the sharp price slides it

has suffered, King Fahd confirmed that Saudi Arabia was following its well-known strategy

to seek, within and outside OPEC, restoration of equilibrium through cooperation with other

producers, for the benefit of both producers and consumers. He stated that the Kingdom's

concern and determination to reach this goal has recently had a positive impact on the oil

market situation, and this "raises optimism".
King Fahd praised the role being played by the private sector "to achieve the goals of

comprehensive development, to build up a national workforce, and to lay down a firm

economic base". He drew attention to the fact that due to the government's confidence in

the ability of the Saudi private sector, practical measures were taken two years ago for

privatization of a number of service sectors, such as telecommunications, the maintenance

of seaport facilities, and, most notably, power generation and distribution. The government

has also been granting mining concessions to a number of cement companies to further

strengthen their financial and industrial abilities. As for oil, he mentioned the new

oilfield at Al-Shaybah.
The King told the gathering that Saudi Arabia is determined to join the World Trade

Organization despite changing economic circumstances, but emphasized that the Kingdom would

continue its progress towards achieving Arab economic integration. He reiterated the call

for foreign investment in the Kingdom and for transfer of technology into the country,

saying the door is open for large international companies to invest in Saudi industry, and

adding that the outline for the seventh five-year development plan is being studied by the

Shura Council and by the Council of Ministers, prior to its implementation in six months'

time. He went on to assure his audience that the Kingdom would continue its policy of

diversifying sources of income to alleviate the burden on the oil sector. This would

involve cooperation with friendly oil producing countries to maintain the stability of the

oil market and keep the prices steady. As part of its commitment to serve the country, he

said, the government is creating job opportunities for Saudi youth, and referred to the

training programs undertaken by government bodies, private companies and chambers of

commerce and industry.
King Fahd remarked on the government's commitment to expand education, and cited as one of

last year's major educational achievements the merger of the Abha branches of King Saud

University and Imam Muhammad Bin Saud University, to form a new university to be named

after King Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz.
Water is a major issue for the Kingdom, and King Fahd called on all residents, expatriates

as well as citizens, to adhere to the water preservation program.
Turning to external affairs, King Fahd referred to the Kingdom's regional and international

roles, and how its foreign policy has remained firm and consistent, being based on

continuous consultation with sisterly and friendly states throughout the world. This takes

place through discussions with foreign guests or through overseas visits by Saudi

officials, such as the recent tour made by Crown Prince Abdullah.  At the top of the agenda

with Arab leaders, he said, are ways of enhancing Arab coordination, unifying ranks,

creating mechanisms for the concept of Arab joint action, and maintaining the vital

interests of the Arab world.  King Fahd reiterated that the Kingdom has always sided with

its Palestinian brothers in their struggle to establish an independent state with Al-Quds

[Jerusalem] as its capital, and referred to last year's United Nations resolution upgrading

Palestine's status in the organization as an important step in the right direction.
King Fahd reiterated the Kingdom's concern at the derailment of the Middle East peace

process and called for its reactivation in accordance with the agreements of Oslo, Madrid,

and Washington, and based on the UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338, and 425 and the

principle of land for peace, resuming negotiations on all tracks from the point where they

were suspended. He declared that the Kingdom had repeatedly called on the co-sponsors of

the Middle East peace, particularly the United States, to exercise pressure and exert

greater effort to push the peace process forward and cool down Israel's intransigence.  The

Israelis, he said, are continuing to put obstacles in the face of peace and stability in

the region, citing the recent bombing of Lebanon. He recalled that Saudi Arabia has

repeatedly called on the international community to urge Israel not to alter the legal

status of the holy city of Jerusalem.
The Kingdom also supports the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the League of Arab States,

the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Organization of African Unity (OAU),

and the United Nations, and anything that guarantees the enforcement of justice, peace,

security and stability in the world. He deplore the disputes in the Islamic world, such as

that between Pakistan and India, and reiterated the Kingdom's call for self-constraint and

dialogue, understanding, negotiations and arbitration to secure the interests of all

parties peacefully. The Kingdom will always remain an advocate of peace and in this regard

calls for making the Middle East a region from of weapons of mass destruction.
Describing events in Kosovo as a difficult lesson for the Islamic world, he recalled that

Saudi Arabia has been urging the international community to take decisive action to stop

the tyrannical and brutal practices of Serbia.  He expressed hope that the people of Kosovo

would be able once more to enjoy peace and stability after they return to their homeland

following the peace agreement and NATO's intervention. 
Turning to the phenomenon of terrorism in the world, particularly by Arab and Islamic

terrorist leaders, King Fahd expressed pleasure that the interior ministers of the Arab

League have signed an anti-terrorism agreement, and hoped this would be put into effect for

the stability and security of innocent people in the region.
Referring to the rapprochement between the Kingdom and Iran, he expressed the hope that

these relations would proceed positively for the benefit of all parties in the Gulf region.

 As for the Lockerbie affair, King Fahd said Saudi Arabia and South Africa had been

successful in forging a draft agreement acceptable to Libya.
Turning to domestic affairs, King Fahd reiterated that education, training and recruitment

of nationals, both men and women, are the government's main concerns. He underscored the

importance of the provincial councils as channels of contact and participation, transfer of

complaints and suggestions of citizens.
King Fahd concluded by thanking the chairman, deputy chairman and members of the Shura

Council for their efforts during the past year.
For his part, Chairman Shaikh Muhammad Bin Ibrahim Bin Jubair recalled that the Shura

Council is entering its 75th year since it was first set up by King Abdul Aziz, and its

seventh year since it was reactivated by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin

Abdul Aziz.  He confirmed that the Shura Council members were aware of their mission, and

that the application of the principle of shura in the kingdom was one aspect of the

adherence of its leadership to the instructions of God and His Prophet.