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Saudi Arabia in Focus September 2016

This issue covers the celebrations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s 86th national day, the successful Saudi delegation led by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 in Hangzhou, China, the recent speech of Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir at Chatham House, London and the tireless work of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre in Yemen.

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Focus Arabie saoudite septembre 2016

Speaking on the occasion of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s 86th national day, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said, “It is an anniversary in which everybody recalls the pioneering role of the late founder of this great entity in which we witness the fruit of his blessed efforts in present reality in security, stability, and development of a homeland which occupies the centre of this world and affects its security and stability by virtue of its strategic location, spiritual weight and economic status, which enabled it to be one of the strongest economies in the world, a member of the Group of twenty with its strong influence in the world economy, determining its tracks and contributing to the solution of its problems.”

Looking towards a bright future, the Deputy Crown Prince said that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic roadmap “ushered in a new stage of development and hard work,” which would facilitate “the continuation of proceeding along with the developed countries and the achievement of the desired growth, while adhering to the fundamentals of our tolerant religion and noble values.”

He also addressed the scourge of terrorism, which threatens the security of the Kingdom, noting that Saudi “security agencies are working with the support, care and directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to maintain what has been achieved of unique security and stability compared to any other country in the world. Saudi security services have successfully managed to achieve remarkable success domestically and internationally in confronting the phenomenon of terrorism that has swept the world and thus, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has presented a Saudi security experience which has been appreciated and admired by everyone and has become a source of benefit for many countries in fighting terrorism and drying up its intellectual and financial sources.”

In Brussels, Ambassador Abdulrahman S. Alahmed, Head of the Mission to the European Union and Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg welcomed revered guests to celebrate the anniversary of the nation’s foundation. A short video on the event in Arabic can be viewed below.

  • September 26, 2016

Saudi National Day Known locally as Al-Yaom-ul-Watany, it marks 23 September 1932, when King Abdulaziz announced the unification of the country as a kingdom.

Emirates Airline and Real Madrid C.F partnered to send a special video message today to congratulate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on its 86th National Day.

Eleven members of the club, including  Cristiano Ronaldo,  Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Sergio Ramos conveyed their own personalised messages expressing their best wishes on the occasion of National Day to the people of Saudi Arabia.

  • September 22, 2016

Addressing the 71st session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Naif, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, told today that defeating terrorism is a priority for Saudi Arabia, which “has been among the primary victims of terrorism” going back many years.

Prince Mohammad said that the Kingdom has been the target of more than 100 terrorist operations since 1992, “including 18 carried out by elements with links to ‘a regional country.’”

The Crown Prince said that the Kingdom has “exerted strenuous efforts…to bring about peace and lay the foundations for security and stability since joining the organization, not just in our region, but also all over the world.”

“Saudi security apparatuses have also managed to detect 268 terrorist operations and thwarted them before they took place,” he said.

Prince Mohammad cited specifically the laws, regulations and other measures the Kingdom has enacted to criminalize the support and financing of acts of terrorism and “signed on to more than 12 international [counter terrorism] agreements.”

Prince Mohammad highlighted the Kingdom’s role in the formation of the multi-country Islamic Military Alliance to combat terrorism as well as the agreement Saudi Arabia signed with the U.S. to launch the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center and the Kingdom’s pledge of $110 million to the center to help build its capabilities and effectiveness in helping countries combat terrorism.

Prince Mohammad also called for an end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, condemning Israel’s “acts of aggression.”

The Crown Prince told the General Assembly that the Kingdom fully supports reaching a political solution in Yemen.

Prince Mohammad called for an end to the fighting in Syria and renewed efforts to find a political solution to the crisis according to the decisions of Geneva 1. Saudi Arabia has provided shelter for hundreds of thousands of Syrian people since the beginning of the crisis, including free health care, and access to the labor market and education.

Turning to Iran, Prince Mohammad said Saudi Arabia called on Iran to “build relations with its neighbors on the basis of the principles of good neighborliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.”

  • September 22, 2016

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Naif has announced that Saudi Arabia will provide an additional $75 million to support refugees, in coordination with international organizations. Prince Mohammad announced the new aid package during a speech at the Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crises hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama on the margins of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly.

During his speech, Prince Mohammad highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts in relief work and humanitarian aid.

“The total humanitarian assistance provided by the Kingdom over the past four decades amounted to about $139 billion,” he said.

He singled out Saudi Arabia’s assistance to the Syrian people, saying that Saudi Arabia was one of the largest providers of aid.

“The Kingdom has received around 2.5 million Syrian citizens, and it is keen on not treating them simply as refugees or putting them in refugee camps. On the other hand, the Kingdom safeguarded their dignity and ensured their safety by granting full freedom of movement and issuing residence permits for hundreds of thousands of Syrians who wanted to remain in the Kingdom.”

“The Kingdom has also given them access to the labor market and provided healthcare and education free of charge. There are more than 141,000 Syrian children pursuing their education free of cost,” he said.

Prince Mohammad also said that Saudi Arabia has supported millions of Syrian refugees living in neighboring states, with aid reaching more than $800 million. 

In addition, the crown prince said that Saudi Arabia has also welcomed Yemeni refugees, considering them as visitors and exempting them from residence and work regulations.  Saudi Arabia has been the single-largest donor of humanitarian aid to Yemen.

Prince Mohammad highlighted the establishment in 2015 of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center. He said that Saudi aid to refugees in other countries included $59 million to the United Nations and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in February 2016, $30 million to Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and the Kingdom’s pledge to provide $50 million to the Indonesian government to support the Rohingya refugees.

  • September 22, 2016

Vision 2030 has seen further sign of progress with the inauguration of a high-level manufacturing institute at King Saud University. The institution has received wide acclaim during its opening in the Kingdom’s latest move strengthen its economy through diversification of non-traditional sectors.

The Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AMI), will stimulate the process of innovation production for youth and entrepreneurs increasingly involved in private sector ventures. As an addition to the university’s existing manufacturing programs, the Advanced Manufacturing Institute is set to become a regional leader in technological expertise for sectors linked to product design and engineering.

“The KSU has responded to the strategic national requirements and placed industrial research and development among its top priorities in KSU’s Strategic Plan 2030,” said a statement released by the university.

The AMI will gather top experts in engineering and business to provide an environment that engages employees in a creative, collaborative work process. Advanced computer systems will guide the institute’s strategic capabilities with the ultimate aim of harmonizing the industrial sector with the knowledge-based economy of Saudi Arabia.

Industry, Manufacturing, Sustainability: Elements of Vision 2030

Under the Vision 2030 plan, the Kingdom has pledged to localize renewable energy and industrial equipment sectors, creating job opportunities for Saudi nationals while reducing dependence on foreign production.

By promoting direct investment in these sectors, Saudi officials will strengthen partnerships with leading companies in the manufacturing and production fields. All stages of production—from maintenance, repair, research, development, and training—will be centralized within Saudi Arabia.

With a focus on sustainable practices in the business sector, Vision 2030 will increase collaboration between governmental ministries, consumers, and producers to reduce waste in the manufacturing sector. In recognition of the Kingdom’s efforts to promote nationwide conservation of natural resources, the plan combines corporate social responsibility with the expansion of job opportunities for youth to shape a better future to benefit all citizens and residents.

Ambassadors Praise Saudi Vision 2030

Meanwhile, Ambassadors to the Kingdom from Germany, Turkey, South Korea and India have praised the launch of the Vision 2030 plan. German Ambassador Dieter W. Haller stated, “Vision 2030 is a dynamic program toward changing the overall face of the country. With this change taking place, every country is looking toward the Kingdom with hope and optimism as it is undergoing a fundamental change from an oil driven economy to an industrial economy.”

“It is a very important and strategic vision document and pointed that it will be very helpful in sustainable economic development,” added  Yunus Demirer, Ambassador of Turkey to Saudi Arabia.

“Vision 2030 is comprehensive and ambitious master plan and will very positively affect the Saudi society, increase job opportunities through investment and expansion work by promising industries, will improve citizens living conditions with economic diversification,” said South Korean Ambassador Pyung-oh Kwon.

“Vision 2030 is a very clear and determined path toward a new stage of economic and social development. We are looking at it as a total transformation program,” stated  Indian Ambassador Ahmad Javed.

  • September 8, 2016

HHRSaudi Arabia has confirmed its plans to launch seven high-speed trains as early as next year. The infrastructure project will connect the Kingdom’s holy sites that welcome millions of pilgrims each year.

Seven trains are set to operate between the cities Makkah and Jeddah every hour, while two trains will operate between the cities housing the two Holy Mosques, Makkah and Madinah.

The 480km project will link the kingdom’s holy sites to other cities to facilitate travel for pilgrims and visitors, and is expected to have a lifespan of over 120 years. The project will also link up the holy sites to other cities in order to facilitate travel opportunities for pilgrims and visitors.

The first phase, the Madinah to Jeddah stretch, is close to completion and is expected to be ready by the end of 2016. The remainder of the project is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2017.

  • September 8, 2016

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman led a senior Saudi delegation to China and Japan, as part of a trip that  included the kingdom’s participation at the G20 summit in Hangzhou.

In April, Prince Mohammed launched radical economic reforms designed to develop non-oil industries in Saudi Arabia and attract billions of dollars of foreign investment. Chinese and Japanese banks and companies are also expected to play major roles.

The prince first visited China for talks on economic ties as well as security issues, before visiting Japan and meeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Prince Mohammed then returned to China on 3 September to join the leaders of the world’s twenty biggest economies in the eastern city of Hangzhou. The event embodies an international forum bringing together governments and central bank governors and aims at studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman presents his economic reform plan to the G20, which envisages state spending of around 270 billion riyals (€65 billion) in the next five years on projects to diversify the economy. Saudi officials will discuss energy cooperation agreements with China and Japan, including a plan to cooperate with China in storing crude oil, the Saudi cabinet has said.


On 25 August 2016, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia hosted a series of constructive discussions about the situation in Yemen, including a meeting between the GCC foreign ministers, US Secretary of State John Kerry, UK Minister for the Middle East and Africa Tobias Ellwood and the UN’s Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. The participants developed a framework for a peaceful solution in Yemen based on the GCC Initiative, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference and UN Resolution 2216. The participating parties offered full support for this roadmap, which would end the war in Yemen and transform the country from war and destruction to reconstruction and stability. The UN special envoy is charged with discussing this framework with the Yemeni parties.


The plan as it stands calls for the following measures to be taken: the swift formation of a new national unity government with power shared among the parties; the withdrawal of forces from Sana’a and other key areas; the transfer of all heavy weapons, including ballistic missiles and launchers, from the Houthis and forces allied with them, to a third party and for the new unity government to respect the security, the integrity, and the sanctity of international borders, prohibiting the deployment of weapons from Yemeni territory that threatened international waterways or the security of Yemen’s neighbours.


At a press conference following the meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir explained the rationale behind the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. “We have responded out of necessity. We responded to remove a threat. We responded to protect the legitimate government. We responded under authority of UN resolution. That’s what we did in order to protect Yemen and in order to protect ourselves and our borders.” He underlined that Saudi Arabia has no interest in extending its borders and has no claims on Yemen: “We want a stable, prosperous, secure, peaceful Yemen.”


US Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the security of Saudi Arabia and reiterated Riyadh’s right to defend against infractions of its border. “We were deeply troubled by the attacks on Saudi territory. We were deeply troubled by the photographs […] showing missiles that had come from Iran that were being positioned on the Saudi border. And we are deeply concerned about missile attacks that have taken place on border towns.” Secretary Kerry explained that Saudi Arabia must be allowed to defend itself against breaches of international law “The threat additionally posed by the shipment of missiles and other sophisticated weapons into Yemen from Iran extends well beyond Yemen. It is not a threat just to Saudi Arabia; it is a threat to the region, it is a threat to the United States, and it cannot continue.”


This respect for international law and the significance of international border is at the heart of the plan for a political solution to the conflict. “The agreement would require the new unity government [of Yemen] to respect the security, the integrity, and the sanctity of international borders, and it would prohibit the deployment of weapons from Yemeni territory that threatened international waterways or the security of Yemen’s neighbors,” Secretary Kerry stated.


Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir insisted that Saudi-led forces were doing everything within their power to avoid civilian casualities: “Where there have been reports of such casualties, we have a mechanism to investigate. We review our operations; we review our procedures in order to ensure that civilian casualties are minimized. That’s what the international community and law requires, and that’s what we go by. We have no interest in creating animosity with the Yemeni people.”


Both Mr Al-Jubeir and Secretary Kerry agreed on the need to bring the war to an end in a way that protects the rights and the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region and does not require a compromise on any country’s security.


  • September 2, 2016