The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud delivered the annual royal speech on the work of the third year of the eighth session of the Shura Council, in the Presence of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salma. King Salman’s speech dealt with the internal and external policies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques said that the Constitution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the Almighty God’s holy Book and His Messenger’s Sunna (Saying and Deeds), as Allah said (and consult them in the matter), and it takes this as a final word and action in its policies, in order to achieve its objectives, programs and decisions, and it will continue to adhere to this principle.
The King added that since the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1727 and its unification by the founder late King Abdulaziz for more than ninety years, this state has laid the foundations of peace, stability and achievement of justice, and we thank Allah Almighty for the many blessings bestowed upon our country, and for the lofty position it has reached among the nations, of which we are all, leadership and people, very proud.
“Our modern history has witnessed the greatest and most successful unity that brought us together, established security and stability, and directed our goals to build a modern state the constitution of which is derived from the Book of God and the Sunna of the Prophet (PBUH). This country’s basis is the citizen, its mainstay is development, and its goal is prosperity, and making a better future for the country and its sons and daughters.”
King Salman indicated that Allah Almighty has honoured this country with the service of the Two Holy Mosques, and since its establishment, it has been keen to carry out its duties with everything that serves Islam and Muslims and to work on implementing projects that guarantee facilitation and safety in the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque and the holy sites. During last year’s Hajj (pilgrimage) season, it has enabled a million pilgrims from inside and outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to peacefully and comfortably perform their rituals, and make Umrah (minor pilgrimage) available to all arrivals with all types of visas as a result of the great success it achieved in facing the coronavirus pandemic, for which it exerted all its capabilities and energies; embodying its leading role in the world.
He added that in line with plans to raise the capacity to host 30 million Umrah pilgrims by 2030, the infrastructure works and the general plan of the “Rou’a Al-Madina” project was launched in the area east of the Prophet’s Mosque, and work is underway to complete the third Saudi expansion at the Grand Mosque, in addition to many projects which aim to raise the level of services provided to the pilgrims. We will every effort possible in order to continue providing comfort and facilitation for visitors to the two holy mosques in accordance with the highest international standards.
“Your country is witnessing a comprehensive and sustainable development movement and it is proceeding in the second phase of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, aiming to develop promising and new sectors, support local content, facilitate the business environment, empower citizens, engage the private sector and increase the effectiveness of implementation to achieve more success and progress, and meet the aspirations and ambitions of our people. A number of national strategies and programs were launched to promote infrastructure development in vital sectors, improve the quality of services provided to citizens, and establish an infrastructure fund that will contribute significantly to supporting infrastructure projects in vital sectors such as transport, water, energy, health, education, communications and digital infrastructure, with a total value of up to SR 200 billion over the ten upcoming years.”
The National Development Fund’s strategy has aimed at stimulating the private sector’s contribution by more than three times the development impact and contributing to the growth of the GDP by pumping more than SR 570 billion and trebling the share of non-oil GDP to reach SR 605 billion, in addition to providing job opportunities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as part of the fund’s strategy by 2030.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques explained that this includes the strategies announced, including the strategy of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program, the national strategy for Games and E-Sports, the strategy for developing the Asir region to turn it into a global tourist destination throughout the year, the human capacity development program, as well as the national aspirations and priorities of the research, development and innovation sector for the next two decades, which enhances the Kingdom’s global competitiveness and leadership globally, the National Investment Strategy, the launch of the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank to promote growth and bridge the financing gap, the National Water Strategy, allocating SR 105 billion for water projects for the environment, water and agriculture system, the National Strategy for Transport and Logistics, and the National Strategy for Data and Artificial Intelligence.
“Brothers and sisters:
The unique projects that are being realized in our country come in light of the development of our economic and cultural foundations, and as HRH the Crown Prince announced that our projects are of a Saudi nature, such as (Al-Ula Development Project, Diriyah Gate Project, Qiddiya Project, Amaala Project, NEOM City, the Red Sea Project, the “The Line” project, and downtown projects for several cities), in addition to the cultural and entertainment cities, which are unrepetitive creative projects that create a historical, cultural, social imprint, and provides a variety of options in accordance with the vision’s objectives, economically, culturally and socially, and contributes to the promotion and protection of the history of the Saudi cultural heritage, to be reflected in the quality of life of the citizen,” the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques said.
King Salman added The development approach in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aims to make a comprehensive and sustainable renaissance, whose centre and the goal is the human being who will manage the development of the present, and make the development of the future with knowledge, as many legislations and amendments to laws and regulations have been issued, and your country has provided the capabilities that enhance the dignity of the citizen and work to achieve the maximum benefits for him, preserve his life and maintain a decent livelihood for him, create protection and social care, and support systems for development and social stability for him.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also recorded pioneering positions and achieved global progress in many fields, most notably non-oil exports, the highest growth rate among all economies of the world, and the second-best performance among 63 countries, as well as in cybersecurity, financial market, quality of scientific research and combating trafficking crimes, in addition to the indicators related to education, research, innovation, human development, auditing and accounting in business, and this reflects the state’s unlimited interest and support, providing all possibilities and giving these and other sectors a strong motive on the path of global leadership, and continuing to achieve qualitative leaps in competitiveness and international indicators.
We are pleased with the awards that our talented students have achieved in the (ISEF 2022) competition, and the progress in 16 indicators of global competitiveness in the field of education, which reflects the efforts made to improve the quality of this sector as a basic pillar for achieving aspirations for progress and leadership, in line with successful global best practices, national development goals and a human capacity development program.
“One of the most important goals that the country attaches to the attention and follow-up is to maintain and enhance security in its comprehensive sense, to provide reasons of reassurance and security, so that everyone who lives on this good land can enjoy it, to protect the gains, confront various challenges and threats, and to combat all forms of crime and terrorism. In addition to the housing, health and labour sectors, we are keen to support plans and programs that contribute to finding solutions to the challenges before them, including raising the proportion of housing ownership for Saudi families to 70% by 2030, and for citizens to receive distinguished health care and service, through an integrated system that helps improve the level of the health and quality of life of individuals and society, as well as increasing the participation of national cadres in the Saudi labour market and opening more job opportunities for the sons and daughters of our country,” Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques indicated.
Saudi women have received attention and care to play their role in growth, construction and development by promoting their capabilities and crystallizing their role in the social, economic and other fields, leading to the attainment of leadership and high positions in government and private sectors and international organizations.
Moreover, the world of space has been given a sizable degree of attention by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enhance its role in space and the manufacture of its technologies. During this year, the Kingdom’s program for astronauts was launched through the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which aims to qualify experienced national cadres to carry out long and short-term space flights, and the National Space Strategy will be launched which includes the Kingdom’s space programs and its goals in the service of humanity.
The Kingdom’s election as a member of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and a member of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), translates part of the Kingdom’s influential role in international organizations, and its appreciation of the global level.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques continued: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is striving to ensure the immunity of the three pillars of the energy world: (securing necessary energy supplies, continuous economic development by providing reliable energy sources and facing climate change). Our country is working hard, within its energy strategy, to support the stability and balance of global oil markets, as petroleum is an important element in supporting the growth of the global economy, and this is evident in its pivotal role in establishing and maintaining the (OPEC +) agreement as a result of its initiatives to accelerate the stability of markets and the sustainability of its supplies as well as the Kingdom’s keenness to develop and invest all its energy resources.
The discovery of several natural gas fields in some regions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including (the Shadoun field in the central region, Shehab and Al-Shorfa fields in Al-Ruba Al-Khali (the Empty Quarter), Umm Khanasser and Samna fields for unconventional natural gas in the northern and eastern border regions), has added a blessing to this country, and enhances the stock of wealth and resources, which supports the leading position of Saudi Arabia in the global energy sector, and contributes to economic diversification and a positive financial impact in the long term.”
Our country is moving at an accelerated pace towards facing environmental challenges, foremost of which is climate change, targeting zero emissions neutrality, launching and adopting a package of initiatives that will contribute to reducing carbon emissions by (278) million tons annually, by 2030, in addition to access to renewable energy for a 50% share of the production capacity of the electricity mix, the initiative of the Saudi Energy Efficiency Program, the construction of one of the world’s largest centres in the production of green hydrogen in the city of NEOM, and investments worth SR 700 billion to contribute to the development of the green economy, creating quality and investment opportunities for the private sector. Consolidating the Kingdom’s leading role globally in the field of sustainability, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launched the “Green Saudi Arabia” and “Green Middle East” initiatives, thus supporting national and regional efforts in this regard, and it has put forward qualitative initiatives to protect the environment and promote sustainable afforestation, in recognition of the importance of dealing with the challenges of climate change and the necessity of addressing its negative effects to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement, by adopting a balanced approach through a gradual and responsible transition towards diverse and more permanent energy systems and sources that take into account the circumstances and priorities of each country.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stressed that: “Our interest in combating corruption and proceeding with cooperation in this regard at the local and international levels, is based on our full awareness that corruption represents the first enemy of development and prosperity, as it cannot be combated without close international cooperation, and we are working in this within the framework of the Arab Convention and the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to ward off its dangers and destructive effects, in a manner that serves the common interests and limits safe havens for the corrupt.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supported the tourism sector and called on donor countries to finance the international fund designated to support the tourism sector; being a key driver in advancing economic and cultural growth and supporting societies. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to the Travel and Tourism Development Index (TTDI), issued by the World Economic Forum, has attained a new achievement by registering 33rd place, advancing 10 places at once for the year 2019.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques elaborated that International Monetary Fund’s affirmation of the Kingdom’s economic strength and financial position and positive economic prospects in the short and medium terms, in addition to the strength of its external economic position, reflects part of the country’s efforts and economic reforms through the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 towards improving the business environment, simplifying regulations, and digitizing government operations working on a wide range of projects in different sectors.
With the Saudi economy continuing to achieve high growth rates, and despite the significant surges in global inflation levels, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, thanks to Allah, and then its monetary, financial and economic policy, managed to reduce the effects of inflation, being recorded among the lowest rates in the world, while the unemployment rate continued to decline in the second quarter, compared to the first quarter of 2022, reaching 9.7%. The unemployment rate for Saudis also decreased: males to 4.7% compared to 5.1%, and Saudi women to 19.3% compared to 20.2%, in line with plans to reach the target rate of 7% in 2030.
The positive assessments of the credit rating agencies on the Kingdom’s economy reflect the effectiveness of the reforms taken by the government within the framework of the financial sustainability program, as government agencies in this framework have achieved a financial impact of more than SR 540 billion during the past years, as they were directed to priority expenditures.
The objectives of the country’s general budget for the fiscal year 2023 come as a continuation of the work process to strengthen the Kingdom’s financial position, maintain high positive rates of economic growth, continue to empower the private sector, stimulate the investment environment, and implement projects and programs of Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques: The status and pivotal role of the Kingdom in the political and economic aspects as well as its strategic __cpLocation has made it at the heart of the world, following its developments and contributing to face its challenges, and investing its opportunities and fields in a way that achieves its interests as well as the interests of its sisterly and friendly countries and the service of humanity as a whole.
Keen to enhance the Kingdom’s relations with the world countries, HRH the Crown Prince has made state visits to many sisterly and friendly countries; your country has also received world leaders and senior officials, resulting in the signing of important agreements that would contribute to
serve mutual interests.
“We are gearing to achieve more upgrading of our joint Gulf action in a way that strengthens the march of the GCC at all levels and underscores the importance of replenishing the building of a prosperous economic cartel as well as the defence and security joint systems in a way that pushes the role of these countries at the regional and international levels through unifying their political positions and developing of partnerships with the world community,” King Salman added.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques explained that the Jeddah Summit for Security and Development which was held with the participation of the United States of America and leaders of nine Arab countries, confirmed a joint interest in the importance of collective work to build a better future for the region, its countries and peoples and intensifying cooperation within the framework of the UN charter based on respect of countries sovereignty, independence, the integrity of territory, society values and cultures and non-interference in their domestic affairs.
The Kingdom has been and still is a peace mediator and minaret for all the world humanity, thanks to its prestigious status among nations and its pivotal role in international policies and its leadership in supporting the good of humankind. In this context, the efforts being exerted by HRH the Crown Prince in adopting humanitarian initiatives towards the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and the success of his mediation to set free prisoners from numerous nationalities and transport them from Russia and return them to their homes.
Emanating from its humanitarian and pioneering role, and being aware of its responsibility towards the world community, the Kingdom is committed to assisting the neediest countries as well as those affected by natural disasters and human-made crises. In this regard, it ranks as the first donor country of humanitarian and developmental assistance at the Arab and Islamic levels and the world’s third.
We work together with our international partners to alleviate the effects of the negative impact of armed conflicts on food security and its derailing of achieving the objectives of sustainable development 2030, particularly the aim of eradicating hunger. The Kingdom underscores the importance of seeking to facilitate the export of cereals and foodstuff as the continuation of the food price surge will push many to face the risks of famine. Our country has substantial contributions in this part as the total assistance of the Kingdom in the field of food and agricultural security amounted to nearly 2 billion 890 million US dollars. The Kingdom also announced, together with its partners in the region, appropriating $10 b. for this purpose through coordinating and unifying the efforts of ten developmental national and regional funds.
The Kingdom highly values its role among the world countries and peoples and works through bilateral relations as well as through international organizations and groups to enhance international cooperation to face the challenges facing the world of today and provide support for the multilateral international work within the framework of the UN principles to reach a more safe, and fair world and achieve a promising future for the coming people and generations.
Amid the current wars and conflicts, the Kingdom confirms the importance of resorting to reason, wisdom and activating the channels of dialogue, negotiation and peaceful solutions in a way that ends fighting and protects civilians and provides chances for peace, security and development for all. It also confirms its supportive position for all international efforts aiming to find a political solution to end the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, stopping the military operations in a way that achieves the protection of souls and properties and preserves regional and international security and stability.
Achieving stability in the Middle East region requires accelerating the search for a fair and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause according to the international legitimacy, the Arab peace initiative and the establishment of an independent state of Palestine along the 1967 parallel, with Eastern Al-Quds as its capital. The Kindom denounces all unilateral measures that undermine the two-state solution and calls for their immediate stoppage.
In Yemen, we hope that the UN-sponsored truce together with the Kingdom’s initiative to end the crisis in the country, would lead to an inclusive political solution and achieve sustainable peace among the brothers in Yemen.
We also confirm the Kingdom’s keenness and support for the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council in a way that achieves security and stability for its sisterly people. We reiterate our firm and supportive position for whatever contributes to a sustaining ceasefire and a star-up of a political process between the Yemeni government and the Houthis in a way that preserves the sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Yemen and underscores the importance of stopping the Houthi armed provocative violations inside Yemen.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stressed that the security and stability of Iraq are a basic pillar of the security and stability of the region. The Kingdom confirms its support for Iraq’s security, stability, development, territorial integrity, Arab identity and social fibre as well as developing bilateral and collective cooperation with Iraq and providing support for it to confront terrorist groups and armed militias.
“We reiterate our support for the Sudanese people and for every effort that contributes and encourages dialogue among Sudanese political parties and forces and preserves the consistency of the state and its institutions and provides support for Sudan in the face of its economic challenges.”
As for Syrian affairs, we confirm that there is a need to commit to the Security Council resolutions that aim to preserve the sovereignty of Syria, its stability and its Arab identity. We assert the importance of preventing the renewal of violence, preservation of ceasefire agreements, and delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy in Syria.
As for the affairs of Lebanon, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques confirmed the need to implement political and structural inclusive economic reforms that lead to overcoming the country’s crisis and the importance of enforcing the authority of its government on all Lebanese territories to control its security and confront drug smuggling operations and terror activities launched from Lebanon to threaten the security and stability of the region.
The Kingdom supports a complete ceasefire in Libya, particularly the Libyan call for the departure of foreign forces, foreign fighters and mercenaries immediately according to the UN Security Council resolution No. 2570 issued in 2021.
“Our country confirms the importance of continuing the provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan as it’s keen on the country’s security so that it would not be transformed into a platform for terrorist operations or a hub for terrorist groups,” the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stressed.
World peace and security could not be achieved through an arms race or possession of massive destruction weapons but through cooperation between countries of the world to achieve development and progress. Emanating from this fact, we urge the world community to intensify and double their effort for the sake of preventing the proliferation of massive destruction weapons and guaranteeing the Middle East arm-free zone. We also call on Iran to promptly live up to its nuclear commitments and show complete cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and take serious steps to build confidence with its neighbours and the world community.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques concluded: “Finally, I thank all personnel working in the government apparatus who are serving their nation with all their devotion and are dedicated to achieving the targets of the Kingdom’s vision in a way that achieves the advance and progress of the nation and pushes it to high levels globally. I also extend my thanks to the personnel of all security and military sectors, particularly the brave soldiers stationed along the borders, appealing to Allah the Almighty to accept as martyrs those who lost their lives in defence of their country, its properties, gains and people. I also thank the Shura Council for its efforts and what it is doing within its profession, asking Allah to make our efforts a success.
Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.”