By : Taha Sakr
The fourth King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was born in Riyadh in 1913. When the young Prince Khalid was 14 years old, his father, King Abdulaziz, sent him as a representative to the tribes to listen to their complaints.
King Khalid bin Abdulaziz remained King for seven years. The introduction of the second Five-Year Plan in 1975 and the launch of the third Kingdom Development Plan in 1980 took place during his reigning. During his reign, the Kingdom achieved unprecedented developmental accomplishments that changed the status of the Kingdom in world politics. This development has transformed the Kingdom from a community of poor majority into a society representing the majority of the middle class.
During this period, significant changes have occurred in the Arab region. The results of these changes are still felt in Saudi society. King Khalid remained in the hearts of the Saudis and foreign leaders as a unique person with a pleased and bright smile.
King Khalid came to power in 1975 and remained the fourth Saudi King until he died in 1982. King Khalid succeeded King Faisal, who was assassinated in 1975. When King Khalid acceded to the throne, Prince Fahd was appointed Crown Prince.
King Khalid’s Leadership
Unlike most of his brothers, King Khalid never studied higher education abroad; instead, he received a traditional education and interested in local issues and problems of the Bedouin. An integral part of his interests was desert development projects. With his modest and self-sufficient personality, he was calm, which allowed him to resolve disputes arising between noble tribes and families successfully.
During the reign of King Khalid, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia managed to overcome several significant political changes. The Kingdom completely took control of Aramco in the 1980s.
King Khalid launched the second Five-Year Plan for Saudi Arabia, which laid the foundation for the future prosperity of the Kingdom.
The standard of living in the Kingdom has improved significantly. The country has begun to diversify its economy and has made progress in completing the construction of its infrastructure. The country has achieved increased economic and political power in the international arena.
The era of King Khalid bin Abdulaziz (1975-1982) can be described as an era of kindness. The Crown Prince Fahd continually supported King Khalid. Together they shifted the Kingdom towards development, success, and growth.
In 1980, King Khalid launched the third Kingdom Development Plan, which surpassed its predecessor in the number of expenses that meet the interests of the country and citizens.
Kingdom’s Internal Development
During the reign of King Khalid, substantial housing projects were initiated in the country with the launch of the Real Estate Development Fund. Such areas as health care, general education, and higher education, as well as the state institution of technical education and vocational training, were developed. Also, a civil service council was created, which was responsible for planning and organizing civil service affairs in government ministries and departments.
The Manpower Council was created to be responsible for the planning, training, and development of the labor force in the public and private sectors. New universities, medical cities, and hospitals were implemented, as well as the project King Saud University-Medical City.
Some of the most significant projects initiated and implemented by the government of King Khalid are:
Justice Sector (Legal Departments) – about 100 courts and legal agencies have been established in various parts of the Kingdom.
The second Five-Year Plan – with an emphasis on education and essential institutional reforms. The primary attention was paid to expanding student enrollment, creating educational institutions of local universities. A college of medicine was established at King Saud University, in addition to introducing new majors in statistics and astronomy. The university expanded the academic disciplines of the College of Sciences and included journalism and information technology in the university curriculum, as well as other modifications.
The education of girls in the era of King Khalid witnessed considerable growth, emphasizing the interest of his government in raising the level of educated women and girls and opening new areas for the growth of girls at all levels and in different sectors.
Healthcare system – the most outstanding achievements of the Ministry of Health during the era of King Khalid were the increase in the number and quality of hospitals, the provision of specialists, the latest equipment, and methods for treating many diseases. Thus, 29 hospitals and 681 primary care centers were opened. The number of doctors increased from 2543 to 6649 (166%). King Khaled Eye Hospital was founded in Riyadh and is considered the modern hospital for ophthalmology in the Kingdom. The hospital is equipped with all modern facilities and is fully serviced by the best industry experts.
Development of Agriculture
The agricultural sector received special attention from the government and a large share of the state budget, especially during the Kingdom’s third Development Plan. The country has introduced the latest agricultural practices. Agricultural loans amounting to 2.9 billion riyals were provided with an unprecedented opportunity to make this sector a source of great wealth for the Kingdom. This was done to make Saudi Arabia an exporting country, in particular, wheat. Studies have been conducted to improve the quality of soil and land. The total number of reclaimed soils was 4.5 million hectares, in addition to 48 million hectares intended for livestock care.
Dams, canals, water projects, networks, and drainage were constructed. Groundwater projects extracted from the depths of the earth were completed, in particular in the southern and eastern regions. One thousand five hundred seventy-nine wells have been drilled, 237 water systems have been established, and ten desalination plants. The number of dams increased to 61 dams, with a storage capacity of 258 million cubic meters. King Khalid opened the first Riyadh Branch for Saudi Grains Organization. The storage capacity of grain silos increased nine times.
Jubail and Yanbu projects became the milestones of King Khalid’s reign. Currently, Jubail has the world’s largest Independent Water and Power Project producing 2743.6 MW of electricity and 800,000 cubic meters of water daily.
The Ministry of Industry and Electricity was created in 1975. In 1982, the number of electricity consumers increased to 1,200,000 from 351,000 in 1975. The total amount of loans provided by the Industrial Development Fund to electric companies amounted to 31.5 billion rials. In 1982, the General Electric Corporation was created to address the country’s ambitious programs to provide electricity in all regions of the Kingdom. The Ministry of Industry and Electricity has developed a long-term plan for electricity, spanning 25 years, so that every citizen can use electricity.
Jubail and Yanbu Industrial Cities
Since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the major oil-exporting countries, it was necessary to create a multidisciplinary industrial city, turn oil wealth into valuable industrial materials in order to continue the country’s development and progress. As a result of this initiative, industrial cities Jubail and Yanbu were built on the shores of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The foundation stone was laid in 1977 on an area of about 80 square kilometers. An industrial group was created as part of this project:
Primary industries include petroleum, petrochemical, and metallurgical industries.
Secondary industries, which depend on primary industries in their core resources, produce ready-to-use industries.
Supporting industries are associated with the provision of necessary building materials for construction, as well as with the provision of commercial and professional services.
Yanbu is the second largest industrial complex in Saudi Arabia. King Khalid laid the foundation stone in 1979, and the second phase of the project to expand the industrial port of King Fahd in Yanbu was opened, which increased the port’s throughput to 130 million tons per year, and cost 2,787 million riyals.
Yanbu’s industrial projects include petrochemical projects, which focus on oil and its production, as well as related technical plants, extensive warehouses, an oil refinery, and two massive pipelines. Pipelines run between the Gulf and the Red Sea, one of which transports liquefied natural gas, and the other – crude oil from the Eastern region to the Garbia region. The Yanbu Port Expansion Project increased port capacity and served Medina, Qassim, and the Northern regions.
King Khalid and Gulf Cooperation Council
As a politician, King Khalid was involved in the Lebanese civil war settlement process and organized the Arab Peace Conference in Riyadh in October 1976. The conference was followed by a meeting of the League of Arab States in Cairo that same month. King Khalid participated in numerous summits and inaugurated the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The Charter of the GCC was signed on 25 May 1981, formally establishing the institution with the member-states Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
The primary objectives of the Gulf Cooperation Council:
- To effect coordination, integration, and interconnection between the Member States in all fields in order to achieve unity between them.
- To deepen and strengthen relations, links, and areas of cooperation now prevailing between their peoples in various fields.
- To formulate similar regulations in various fields, including the following:
- Economic and financial affairs
- Commerce, customs and communications
- Education and culture
- To stimulate scientific and technological progress in the fields of industry, mining, agriculture, water, and animal resources; to establish scientific research; to establish joint ventures and encourage cooperation by the private sector for the good of their peoples.