The 25th session of the Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting of the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) took place yesterday evening in Brussels. Following the fruitful exchange between the ministers, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Adel Al-Jubeir and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini expressed “a firm determination to expand and strengthen bilateral political, economic, cultural and social cooperation and relations” between the two blocs at a joint press conference.
In a statement published by the EU-GCC co-chairs, both parties agreed that cooperation serves as ”a solid and effective foundation for sustainable regional and international stability and security,” and pledged to “further enhance their political dialogue and cooperation.”
On the conflict in Yemen, all parties welcomed the resumption of the UN-mediated Yemen peace talks in Kuwait on 16 July and reiterated their support to the UN Special Envoy for Yemen in facilitating a comprehensive and lasting settlement between Yemeni parties to restore peace and resume the transition in Yemen.
Federica Mogherini stressed the need “to work together to help the parties find common ground. There one area where convergence was complete between us and among the respective parties. We agreed there is only a political solution to the conflicts in Yemen and we’re trying to join forces to facilitate this process.” Mirroring these sentiments, Mr, Al-Jubeir added that “a political settlement in Yemen has to be based on three basic principles: the GCC initiative, the outcome of the Yemeni national dialogue and the UN Security Council resolution 2216.”
Al-Jubeir, speaking as the head of the rotating GCC presidency, said Saudi Arabia and its partners are working “to encourage the parties [in Yemen] to sign agreements and implement measures so that we can move Yemen from a state of war to a state of development, reconstruction and prosperity.”
During the meeting, ministers also reaffirmed their determination to counter terrorism and terrorism financing, and to defeat Da’esh and other terrorist organizations. They stressed the need to reach a solution to the Syrian crisis. They called for immediate country-wide humanitarian access allowing the delivery of aid to all besieged areas, emphasizing the importance of full and strict adherence to the cessation of hostilities arrangements.
EU and GCC Ministers also reviewed progress in the EU-GCC strategic relationship and “expressed their willingness to address together common political, social, economic, and security challenges, as well as macroeconomic stability and support for diversification strategies,” such as Saudi Arabia’s National Transformation Plan, Vision 2030, noting that two-way trade between the blocs represented more than €155 billion in 2015, an increase of 55% since 2010.
WASHINGTON [July 15, 2016] – Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia welcomed the release of the 28 pages redacted from the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, and reiterated the Kingdom’s commitment to crushing terrorism at home and abroad.
“Since the tragic events of 9/11, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has embarked on a series of major steps in confronting terrorism,” Minister Al-Jubeir said at a press conference at the Saudi Embassy in Washington following Friday’s release of the 28 pages.
“We have put in place financial control mechanisms that are unprecedented for any other country. We have shut down institutions that use fundraising in order to support extremist causes and terrorism. We have put in place laws to criminalize terror financing. We have detained a large number of people. We have prosecuted a large number of people. We have jailed a large number of people. We have put in place better systems in terms of looking at cash couriers,” said Minister Al-Jubeir. “Saudi Arabia is in the forefront of countries when it comes to fighting terrorism.”
The Foreign Minister said that redacted pages exonerate the Saudi government from involvement in the events of 9/11, as the 28 pages were reviewed by U.S. intelligence agencies who said there is no involvement of the Saudi government or Saudi officials in the events of 9/11.
“We hope with the release of these pages, the aspersions that have been cast against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the past 14 years will come to an end. And we hope that we can focus on moving forward in a cooperative way in order to go after the men, the money and the mindset that represents a threat to your people and ours.”
Minister Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia is a victim of terrorism, and works with its allies in going after terrorists and their supporters.
“Terrorism has no religion, it has no nationality, it has no ethnicity, it has no humanity. It is incumbent upon all of us to do everything in our power to defeat it,” said Minister Al-Jubeir.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is determined to go after the terrorists, those who finance them, and those who justify their actions.”
Recently appointed Saudi Minister of Energy, and Chairman of the world’s largest oil company Saudi Aramco, Khalid Al-Falih gives his first interview to a European newspaper. Speaking openly with Klaus Stratmann and Mathias Brüggmann for German business broadsheet Handelsblatt, Mr. Al-Falih addresses key developments of global interest ranging from oil prices to the new compelling plans to revitalize the Saudi economy and society.
On the price of oil…
“It’s always dangerous to predict the price of oil, no matter who you are. The price is formed in the market and is influenced by many factors. Ultimately, market fundamentals, or supply and demand, are the primary determinant of the oil price, and at the moment we see healthy demand for oil. That said, there are economic headwinds in some important markets and we hope this does not trigger a slowdown in global demand. On the supply side, the recent decrease in prices has led to reduced investment and a considerable drop of oil supplies from unconventional sources.”
“Oil prices at their current levels lead to insufficient revenues being generated by the oil industry, and consequently result in limited investment in future production. This means that in the future, higher levels of demand cannot be satisfied. As a result, we need a price higher than $50 to achieve a balance in oil markets in the long term.”
“Just as $50 is too low to sustain investment, prices in excess of $100 are too much. The optimum lies somewhere in between. We have to manage this issue ourselves. And that is one of the drivers of Saudi Vision 2030: a decoupling of our state budget from the oil market.”
On Saudi Aramco and economic transformation…
“The strong dependence of the Saudi Arabian state budget on Saudi Aramco has long given me worry. It is right that the government wants to gradually disengage from this dependence.”
“The size and complexity of an initial public offering of Saudi Aramco will require a great deal of internal preparation. The actual IPO (Initial Public Offering) timeframe will also be subject to a number of external factors including equity market conditions, oil price outlook, and domestic capital market readiness.”
“Western corporations do play a key part in this economic transformation. There are a number of capable Saudi corporations. But we are convinced that we can achieve our goals much faster and at a lower cost if we partner with foreign corporations and leverage their technologies, expertise and global networks. Saudi Aramco is an excellent proof point in this area, as it has become the most valuable corporation in the world, in large part because we have worked together with partners. World-class partners allow us to undertake large-scale complex projects and enhance our operations.”
“Siemens is a good example of mutually beneficial partnership with a leading German firm. They have just invested in the manufacturing of gas turbines in Saudi Arabia and we have an interest in repeating commitments like this.”
On the Public Investment Fund…
“The Public Investment Fund (PIF) is currently located at the Ministry of Finance and will be made into an autonomous fund. It will be the biggest sovereign wealth fund in the world.”
“We are targeting a size of 2 trillion dollars, but it could become even more. PIF will target new strategic investments, in order to realize Vision 2030, and will also be active in investments abroad with the aim of generating income and diversification. The introduction of taxes and duties also serves the goal of diversifying government revenue.”
On Saudi Arabia’s key energy goals…
“We have committed ourselves to ambitious carbon reductions during the Paris climate conference late last year. We are convinced that we can achieve these goals and will strive for further progressive reductions when we do.”
“Saudi Arabia is fully on board. The impression that Saudi Arabia is isolating itself from the climate protection goals is completely wrong. We are happy that a flexible agreement was achieved, that allows every country to contribute with its own program. We fully participate in this and have integrated our climate protection goals into our state reform plan, Vision 2030.”
“We will replace oil with natural gas, while simultaneously increasing the share of renewables in our energy supply. Wind and solar power are a priority in the first step, though in the medium term we may also rely on nuclear power.”
“The government’s Saudi Energy Efficiency Program has already implemented new energy efficiency standards to curb inefficient consumption of energy in the utilities and transportation sectors as well as in electrical appliances. Such standards will preserve precious resources for future generations and help us meet our commitments for carbon emissions reduction.”
On Vision 2030 and rebuilding Saudi society…
“Our society is very young. My generation is in the minority. Young people rely on knowledge and technology and are skeptical toward the ways of the past. They dream of a future where one will not have to look at the daily movement of the oil price. They want innovation, they want to become entrepreneurs, and they want a better future with an engaging career instead of a job as bureaucrat in the public sector. They want to be in control of their own destiny. Vision 2030 makes this possible and enjoys popularity especially among young people.”
“Vision 2030 is mainly about macro-economics, some of which involves the construction of railways, ports and industrial cities. All of this is important and necessary, particularly for private sector growth, enhanced productivity and economic diversification. But essentially it is about developing Saudi Arabia into a country worth living in for the young people and improving the quality of life.”
“We want talented young Saudis and young people from all over the world to live in the Kingdom, to enjoy a high quality of living, and to build bright futures for themselves and their families.”
The full original German interview appeared in Handelsblatt on 12th July 2016
Saudi officials have recently announced plans to establish the Prince Mohammed bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship under the auspices of the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
The Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (MISK) has signed a cooperative agreement with Babson College and Lockheed Martin to develop the first undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia.
Following Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the US in June 2016, MISK Secretary-General Bader Al-Asaker signed the memorandum of understanding alongside Babson President Dr. Kerry Healey and KAEC Managing Director Fahd Al-Rasheed.
The college will offer students the opportunity to engage in hands-on research and business development ventures, providing valuable experience that will lead to a career in entrepreneurship after graduation.
“The partnership between MISK and KAEC is an important contributor to the development of the business sector, thanks to its role in supporting and recruiting major institutions that help young Saudis hone their professional skills,” said Al-Rasheed, following the signing of the agreement.
“The university,” stated Al-Rasheed, will “play a key role in supporting and developing business sectors that encourage initiatives in education and other sectors that help young Saudis.”
Vision 2030 To Develop Entrepreneurship Opportunities For Saudi Youth
As part of the Kingdom’s sweeping Vision 2030 reforms, the government has detailed a plan to partner with the private sector in order to align higher education outcomes with job market needs.
Collaboration between MISK, Lockheed Martin, and Babson follows the Kingdom’s pledge to invest in strategic partnerships in a number of educational fields, increasing student engagement in diverse university specializations. The Saudi government is expected to expand monitoring and evaluation capabilities to ensure that all students receive an internationally-competitive education that will prepare them for employment in the public and private sectors.
Under the global economic framework of Vision 2030, the Kingdom aims to foster innovation among local entrepreneurs through the creation of the Small and Medium Enterprises Authority to facilitate international cooperation and market access for young Saudis.
His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir will address the Royal Institute for International Relations – Egmont on July 19th 2016.
The event, will focus on the challenges and perspectives faced by Saudi Arabia and the wider region.
To attend the event, please register on the Egmont website.
The conference takes place between 13:00-14:30 at the Egmont Palace in Brussels
13.00 Welcome address by Marc Otte, Director General, Egmont
13.10 Intervention by His Excellency Mr. Adel Al-Jubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
14.10 Questions and answers
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz has recommitted the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to “strike with an iron fist” the terror groups that seek to recruit youths to “extremism and violence,” and pledged efforts to “distance them from masterminds of misleading ideas.”
In a message to the people of Saudi Arabia and all the world’s Muslims on the occasion of the Eid Al-Fitr, King Salman urged Muslims to unite and condemned terrorism and extremism, stressing their contradiction to Islam.
“The sedition witnessed in the Islamic world today requires all of us to exert the utmost effort to unify our voice, close ranks and work together to solve the problems of the Islamic nation, and achieve victory for its issues,” said King Salman. “However, the biggest challenge facing our Islamic nation is how to keep our youth, the real wealth and hope of the future, away from the dangers facing them – particularly extremism and violence – and distance them from masterminds of misleading ideas that force them to behave in extraordinary ways that contradict the principles of our Islamic religion and the pillars and values of our Islamic societies.”
Vow To Strike Terror Groups
King Salman vowed to spare no effort to crush extremists that use misleading messages to entice impressionable young people to join them. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is determined, God willing, to strike with an iron fist those who target the minds and attitudes of our youth,” he said.
The number of Saudis employed in the private sector rose in 2015 by over 10 percent compared to the previous year’s total. The annual statistics of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) show that the number of Saudi workers in the private sector reached approximately 1.74 million male and female workers, almost 200,000 more than the 2014 figure.
The statistics also highlighted that the number of female employees surpassed 499,000, meaning women now account for 29 percent of the total of private sector employees.
The statistics from SAMA, based its data and information on figures from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, revealed that male and female Saudis working in the private sector represent 16 percent of the total number of Saudi workers – a number exceeding 10.5 million.
It was Riyadh that enjoyed the majority of new recruits to the private sector, with the total of Saudi workers exceeding 671,000, representing 38 percent, while the Eastern Province occupied second place in the recruitment of Saudis in the private sector at 23 percent of the total. Makkah came in third, with 395,000 male and female Saudi workers, representing 22 percent of the Kingdom’s total.
The string of cowardly terrorist attacks that struck Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq at the end of the holy month of Ramadan have touched once more the hearts and minds of people across the globe, to which we join our sympathy for all the victims and their families. reinforce the determination of the Kingdom and of its allied in the fight against any form of terrorism.
As underlined by the Deputy Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Tawfiq bin Abdul Aziz Al-Sudairi, the criminal act in Madinah did not take into account the sanctity of the place, the time and innocent lives. In this context, Governor of the Asir region Prince Faisal bin Khalid said the terrorist acts witnessed in Madinah, Jeddah and Qatif have demonstrated the volume of enmity shown by the terrorists against the Kingdom through the violation of the sanctity of the Holy Month of Ramadan and shedding the blood of worshippers in the holiest place.
On behalf of the EU, High Representative Federica Mogherini expressed her sympathies and reiterated the EU’s wish to cooperate to fight terrorism in all its forms.
Now, more than ever, it is incumbent on us to work together to eradicate this scourge, as Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and US Secretary of State discussed yesterday. Through international cooperation it can and will be overcome.
Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud made an official visit to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris last week. The Deputy Crown Prince and the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, highlighted the need to support the restoration and conservation of cultural heritage damaged by conflicts, especially in Yemen.
The Deputy Crown Prince pledged support for the country’s recovery plans, notably for the restoration and conservation of cultural heritage, including three World Heritage sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Both also stressed the importance of renewed initiatives for citizenship education, intercultural dialogue at a time marked by extremism, intolerance and violence. The Director-General emphasized the imperative need to fight youth radicalization through quality education and invited Saudi Arabia to attend UNESCO’s second conference on the Internet and Youth Radicalization, which will take place in Quebec later this year.
The Director-General expressed appreciation of Saudi Arabia’s support to the Organization, notably the Kingdom’s contribution to strengthening the Organization’s Arabic language capacity and key UNESCO activities. She also highlighted the importance of Saudi heritage, to be promoted as a force for dialogue and mutual understanding. Saudi Arabia has four sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, ten sites included on its national Tentative List and considerations are under way to provide more focus on the protection of natural heritage in view of potential nominations and future inscriptions.
Following the meeting, the Kingdom’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Dr. Ziad Al-Driss has said the world body is committed to cooperating with the Kingdom to see it achieve the goals of its Saudi Vision 2030. Irina Bokova has reportedly praised the Saudi strategy, and affirmed that the organisation is ready to cooperate with the Kingdom in the fields pertaining to UNESCO, particularly those related to education, culture and human heritage, in order to help it realize the vision.