Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, in an interview published in the latest edition of the Lebanese magazine ‘Alsayed’, said that violence cannot be rationalized either in Islamic or in social terms, especially in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi people, he said, do not accept the harm done by the blind violence practiced by the deviant groups; nor do they need to be taught how to be Muslims in a country that acts as guardian of Islamic institutions.
Prince Sultan went on to say that national dialogue is in fact a consolidation of the nation’s unity, with the government building up the economic infrastructure, but the people participating in decisions on details and priorities. Comprehensive development, he said, is for the society as a whole. The realities of society cannot be ignored, and all sectors of Saudi society must take part in the social process which has already started.
Asked about the Kingdom’s forthcoming municipal elections, he said the decision on this issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz in May 2004 came as a result of dialogue and consultations with wide sectors of the people.
On the Kingdom’s oil industry, Prince Sultan said the current focus is on natural gas, reflecting the policy of diversification of sources of income. Recent discoveries, he said, have put Saudi Arabia fourth worldwide in terms of gas reserves, adding that the challenge now is to organize this sector, continue to develop and expand investments, and channel the participation of the private sector. The recent oil price hikes, he said, have their positive impact in the form of support of the State budget; but they have long-term negative impacts on the global economy, of which Saudi Arabia is an integral part. As reasons for the current surge, he cited instability in Iraq, the international oil companies’ refining shortcomings, and increased global demand. The Kingdom’s responsibility, he said, as the world's largest oil producer and exporter, is to meet the world’s needs for petroleum. Saudi Arabia is therefore prepared to increase its supplies and bring prices down to $30 dollars per barrel.
On the State budget surplus that has resulted from the current high oil prices, Prince Sultan confirmed that this will be appropriated for development in the Kingdom and for the welfare of its people, with SR 41 billion allotted to this while the major part will go towards writing off public debt.
Commenting on the human factor in development, Prince Sultan said economic development is nothing if citizens are not educated, trained and given the chance to take the initiative to lead the development process.