Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Turki Al-Faisal discussed the steps Saudi Arabia is taking to position itself as a full, contributing member of the global economy in remarks at the World Affairs Council of Northern California in San Francisco last night.
Prince Turki laid out a number of steps the Kingdom has taken to boost its economy. He said that the Saudi government has enacted 42 new laws and created nine new regulatory bodies designed to streamline commerce in the Kingdom and open its system up to increased investment.
In addition, Saudi Arabia has acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Membership in the organization has resulted in a liberalized trade regime as well as a transparent, predictable environment for trade and foreign investment – which in turn will give Saudi products greater opportunities in the global marketplace and encourage international investment in the Kingdom, Prince Turki said.
Yet another significant move the Kingdom has undertaken to create jobs and increase foreign participation is the creation of the King Abdullah Economic City, considered to be the single largest private sector investment in the Kingdom.
Prince Turki noted that there are currently investment opportunities worth over $600 billion available in Saudi Arabia over the next 15 years. These investment opportunities are in a number of areas, including expanding the natural gas industry, growing information technology, developing the mining and tourism sectors, and further privatizing state-owned corporations.
“Saudi Arabia wants to become a full, contributing member of the global economy,” Prince Turki said. “We want to see our citizens competing in the world, and we want to see our economic reform be a key driver of positive change in our society. Our citizens need to be educated; they need to be employed; and they need to make constructive contributions to the world community.”
In a question and answer session following his remarks, Prince Turki discussed a wide range of topics, including nuclear weapons in the region, particularly Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Israel’s nuclear arsenal; the war in Iraq; and the attitude of the Saudi people towards the West, especially the United States.
Questions also touched on Saudi Arabia’s support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process; reform in the Kingdom; the war on terrorism; US public diplomacy in the Middle East; economic development in the Arab world; and the Kingdom’s energy policy.
Transcript of Prince Turki’s remarks and Q&A session