King reflects on Saudi accomplishments at Shoura opening

March 7, 2010

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz opened the proceedings of the 2nd year of the 5th term of the Majlis Al-Shoura in Riyadh today. Addressing the body, King Abdullah reviewed the actions taken and achievements made by the Saudi government over the past few years.

On the domestic front, the King praised security forces for uprooting extremist groups from the Kingdom and thwarting terrorist plots. He condemned the infiltrators who crossed into Saudi territory from Yemen earlier this year, noting, “The Kingdom stood firm in the face of this shameful aggression and managed to repel the aggressors and clear and secure its border.” He added, “We continue to pursue the adoption of Islamic discourse based on dialogue, tolerance and rapprochement of views, the removal of misunderstanding and rejection of dispute, enmity and hatred among the followers of different religions and cultures.”

Turning to education, King Abdullah noted that the construction of new academic facilities has raised the number of Saudi universities to twenty-five. In particular, he lauded the inauguration of the world-class King Abdullah University for Science and Technology. Furthermore, he pointed out, the government extended its foreign scholarship programs, which have allowed 70,000 students to study abroad. Regarding the status of women, the King noted, “Saudi women have positively participated in all programs of development, standing by their brothers as students, clerks, teachers or businesswomen. Princess Norah bint Abdulrahman University, with its whole administrative and academic staff, is a witness to Saudi women’s progress in the fields of science and culture.”

On the economic front, King Abdullah declared, “Despite the economic turmoil in the world, the Kingdom has managed, by the grace of Allah, to pursue its economic development with steady pace.” He attributed the country’s resilience from the global crisis to its strong financial and economic systems, adding, “We overcame the crisis with the least possible losses and we did not stop creating a suitable environment for the contribution and growth of the private sector.” Noting the Kingdom’s steady progress in reforming its business regulations, he pointed out that Saudi Arabia was ranked 13th by the International Finance Corporation, an affiliate of the World Bank, on its list of best investment environments.

On the topic of energy, King Abdullah stated, “The Kingdom has continued its moderate approach towards the global oil situation and sought, in the wake of the global economic and financial crisis, to minimize the impact of the crisis on the stability of oil markets and the interests of producing and consuming countries alike.” The country’s oil wealth, he added, will be used for the benefit of both present and future generations.

Regarding foreign relations, the King stressed the importance of both Arab reconciliation and the Palestinian situation. He noted that Saudi Arabia has encouraged Palestinian unity, while providing large amounts of aid, including $1 billion for rebuilding the Gaza Strip after the last war with Israel. The Kingdom, he declared, will continue to provide aid to the Palestinians and to others in need around the world.

Concluding his remarks, the King said, “We are part of this world and a member of the international community . . . We are tied to [all moderate countries] by the identical goals of spreading security, peace, fighting terrorism and corruption in all its forms, and establishing the principles of development, progress, prosperity and civilizational development in all fields.”