The Majlis Al-Shura, or Consultative Council, inaugurated the 3rd year of its 6th session today and listened to an address from King Abdullah delivered by Deputy Prime Minister, Crown Prince Salman. King Abdullah remains hospitalized in Riyadh for treatment of pneumonia. [See: Special Report | King Abdullah Medical Update-Jan 6]
Today we are pleased to present for your consideration those remarks as well as [in separate posts] the “class photo” of the men and women from the new Majlis Al-Shura body, with Crown Prince Salman marking this occasion. You can also find the SUSRIS glossary entry describing the Council and a reprint of the 2013 SUSRIS report on the historic addition of 30 Saudi women to the Council. Lastly we will share a gallery of photos recording the Council opening.
On behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Crown Prince inaugurates Majlis Al-Shura’s third year works of sixth session
Riyadh, Rabi’I 15, 1436, January 06, 2015, SPA — On behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, inaugurated the works of the third year of the sixth session of Majlis Al-Shura at the headquarters of the Council in Riyadh today.
Upon his arrival accompanied by Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, President of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities; Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of State, Cabinet’s Member and Chief of the Crown Prince’s Court and Special Adviser ; and Prince Bandar bin Salman bin Abdulaziz; the Crown Prince was received by Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Premier, Advisor and Special Envoy of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Minister of National Guard; Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh Region; Speaker of Majlis Al-Shura Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Al-Sheikh; the Council’s Deputy Speaker Dr. Mohammed bin Amin Al-Jafri; the Council’s Secretary Dr. Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Amr; and the Council’s Chairmen of Committees.
Upon the Crown Prince’s arrival, the royal anthem was played.
The inauguration ceremony started with a recitation of verses from the Holy Quran.
The Crown Prince delivered the address of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for inaugurating the works of the third year of the sixth session of Majlis Al-Shura. Following is the text:
In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the Most Merciful,
Praise be to Allah and blessings be on his messenger, our prophet Mohammed and his companions
Brothers and sisters, the members of the Shura Council,
Peace be upon you.
At the beginning of this annual meeting, which brings us together with an elite group of the sons and daughters of our beloved country, I am pleased to thank you for the work your council has accomplished and the decisions it has made that contributed to the guidance of the options the government had taken and the decisions it made in accordance with the interests of the country and its citizens.
The efforts of the founder of this country-may Allah bless his soul-resulted in the formation of this great entity (the nation), and it is now our responsibility both as government and as people to protect it, maintain its assets and its status among nations, and defend its supreme message, a message that emanates from the tolerant values of Islam as well as from the desire for dialogue and interaction with other nations in order to attain mutual human goals.
In its makeup, your council embodies the unity of the country, as its work embodies participation in decision-making process. You are among the leaders of national opinion on whom the state depends to shape the present and future of the country. This puts greater responsibility on you to confront the challenges your country faces, and to push the process of national development in all its aspects forward to achieve the country’s aspirations.
Your country exists in an area that is going through several crises that bred great challenges. With God’s grace and due to the cooperation of your council and the coordinated efforts of your government, we were able to deal with these crises, and respond to these challenges in a way that made your country an oasis of peace in the middle of disturbed environment.
Today-as you know-your country is facing unprecedented regional challenges that resulted from the severe crises that swept through neighboring or nearby countries and that pushed them to the quagmire of civil wars and sectarian conflicts. That should make us cautious, and I would like to assure you that your leadership is aware of these challenges and their consequences. With God’s help and support, your country will continue to enjoy the blessings that God bestowed on it, foremost of which is the
blessings of peace and stability.
You all know the new developments at the international oil market, which were caused by several factors, foremost of which is the weak growth of the world economy. These developments are not new to the oil market. Your government had dealt with such developments in the past with wisdom and
astuteness. It will deal with the current developments in the oil market as it did in the past.
The Kingdom will continue to defend its economic interests and its international status through a national perspective that takes into account its citizens’ prosperity, sustainable development and the interests of present and future generations.
We assert that true progress (development) is the one that is carried out according to measured steps that take into account the requirements for reform. Good decisions are the ones made away from emotions and that are good for the country and its citizens. You have a huge responsibility towards citizens as you consider whatever issues you are requested to consider, and I am confident that you meet this responsibility.
I touched on some of the issues that are of particular interest to you in this speech of mine, but you will find in the letter that was distributed to you a demonstration of what the government of your country has accomplished over the past year on the foreign and domestic levels.
We ask Allah to guide us all to better serve our religion and our country.
Peace be upon you all.
For his part, the Speaker of Majlis Al-Shura, Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh delivered a speech in which he expressed thanks Allah Almighty for the successful temporary medical procedure for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
He said addressing the Crown Prince: It is a happy day for Majlis Al-Shura to honorably receiving you to open, on behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, a new year in the Majlis’ march, which is provided by care and attention from the Kingdom’s leadership.
He further said that the Kingdom has witnessed, during the last period, a number of decisions, orders and further developments and good projects for the sake and interest of this country in implementation of the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
The Speaker of Majlis Al-Shura added addressing the Crown Prince that while you are gracing us today, on behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques by opening of the third year of the sixth session of the Majlis’ works, it concluded its second year of this session with a set of accomplishments as the products of (79) sessions during which a number of draft regulations, agreements, reports and plans were studied as stipulated in Article XV of Majlis Al-Shura’s regulation.
Moreover, Dr. Al Al-Sheikh emphasized the Majlis’ keenness, through the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; the Crown Prince and the Deputy Crown Prince, on tackling the concerns of citizens and refer them to officials in their respective competence, where the Council attached, over its past years, a great attention to this aspect by hosting Ministers and officials from various government agencies.
He also said that the Council opened several windows to receive from which, the citizens’ complaints and suggestions, either through the Commission on Human Rights and petitions which exercised a major role in this area, or through meetings with citizens and listening directly to their cases, or by electronic communication.
Majlis Al-Shura’s Speaker further said that according to the application of the wise political approach adopted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its foreign relations, the Council continued its efforts at the parliamentary diplomacy level that have contributed over the past years in highlighting the civilized picture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and reality in which it is living as well as fair positions towards all international issues, both through participation in international and regional parliamentary conferences; visits made by its officials and members of its parliamentary friendship committees or through parliamentary delegations from various states hosted by Majlis.
At the conclusion of his speech, Dr. Al Al-Sheikh thanked officials and Members of Majlis Al-Shura for their efforts and accomplishments for more prosperous future.
He also extended thanks and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; the Crown Prince and the Deputy Crown Prince for their support and attention.
Following is the text of the speech of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud directed to works of the third year of the sixth session of the council:
In the name of God and God’s blessing we open the works of the third year of the sixth session of the Majlis Ashura, asking the Almighty to help us all achieve the good of our dear country and to bless all our efforts and make our work pure for His sake.
Dear brothers and sisters:
I am pleased at this annual meeting, which joins me with this good elite of the sons and daughters of this beloved country to review with you the achievements of your country over the past year at the internal and external levels.
At the beginning, we would like to recall with you all the great blessings bestowed on us in this safe country. The first is the blessing of Islam and the country’s honor of the service of the Two Holy Mosques and their visitors. Then, the unification of the divided country by the grace of God at the hands of King Abdulaziz, may God rest his soul. He secured its people after fear and unified it after division and he, may God rest his soul, built a unified state and blessed renaissance. His sons, the kings, after him, continued the process of construction until your country reached what we have reached of development and renaissance at all levels.
Dear brothers and sisters:
This meeting comes in extremely sensitive and delicate international and regional conditions. Its regional surrounding is full of unrest and strife. In it, terrorism emerged murdering people, stealing money and violating honor. With those conditions and the required preoccupation with them, your county continued its development march seeking to strengthen the security and comfort of citizens and their happiness.
Dear brothers and sisters:
The achievement of development and prosperity is accompanied by the promotion of the collection of cultural and moral values upon which our country is based and which are urged by our religion calling for tolerance, love and compassion, the consolidation of the Islamic and Arab identity of the kingdom, continuation of support for its position at the international level, promotion of national unity, achievement of comprehensive national security and insurance of human rights, justice, equality and stability, with the application of the principles of transparency and accountability, further institutional reform and the protection of integrity and anti-corruption. To achieve this, we have sought to establish national dialogue domestically as King Abdulaziz Center for Dialogue continued its planned activity in the promotion of dialogue among all spectra of the society and launched the program of dialogues with the participation of a group of scholars, preachers, thinkers and intellectuals to have a dialogue on the issue of extremism. Your state has always emphasized the importance of promoting human rights and issued more related regulations the latest of which is the regulation of protection from abuse and child protection regulation. The National Commission for Human Rights continues following all that is related to human rights.
Societies only progress by unity and participation in aspects of life. On this basis, your state has worked to encourage wider participation by women within the controls of Sharia. No doubt, the presence of thirty members of women in your esteemed council is the best proof of this conscious and active participation that reflects positively on social and economic life in our beloved country. A number of regulations have been issued in this direction including municipal councils regulation. All this aims at taking your country to the ranks of the most advanced and prosperous countries with the preservation of Islamic values and genuine heritage.
Dear brothers and sisters:
Security remains an essential concern for all of us. We witnessed over the past year desperate attempts by the deviant group and elements of sabotage and advocates of division to undermine the stability of your country and its unity. The answer has been by the wonderful attitudes of citizens at all levels causing happiness and assuring us on the firmness of national unity. Those attempts have been failed as a result of those attitudes and the work of the security and military state institutions, which foiled their plans. We say this and point with pride to the vigilance of the security men and their sacrifices in order to perform their mission and pray for mercy, forgiveness and paradise for those who died and applaud those who continue the vigil for the homeland’s and citizens’ security.
On this occasion and from this platform, we assure everyone that we will not allow any threat to the national unity. Let those who have pledged themselves to external organizations or states know that they have no place among us and that they will be confronted firmly and strongly. We also reaffirm our resolve to continue the intellectual and security work to counter terrorism. We will not rest until we fortify our dear country from this danger.
Dear brothers and sisters:
The world has been plagued by the scourge of terror which has spread around the globe and which has damaged Muslims more than others and from which your country suffered as others suffered. We have been keen that your state be at the forefront of its fighting. At the domestic level, we confronted it through several levels including that of the legal side by approval of the terrorism crimes and finance regulation and that of efforts by scholars, preachers and intellectuals to clarify the deviation of this thought and its danger to faith and security including what has been issued by senior scholars on terrorism, its danger and its fighting, in addition to the continuing security work to counter it through proactive security moves to thwart the terrorists’ plans, chase them, arrest them and bring them to justice.
On the external front, your state has led in warning against terrorism through our call for the establishment of the International Centre for Fighting Terrorism and the call to confront terrorism at the international level. The kingdom provided this center with a donation in the amount of one hundred million dollars to urgently activate the role of this center. Then, we strengthened it by inviting the regional and international community to cooperate to combat this scourge.
Brothers and sisters:
Justice is the basis on which this state has been built and will remain to be built. Achievement of justice has been assigned to the judicial institution which is based on God’s Sharia. Our project for the development of the judiciary and our care to eliminate the difficulties faced by the judicial institutions aim at taking this very important facility to what we all aspire for in achieving justice. In your esteemed council, you have discussed the regulation of Sharia proceedings, the regulation of criminal procedures and the regulation of proceedings before the Board of Grievances which have been issued. Our order has been issued to form a Sharia committee of a number of distinguished scholars to prepare a draft code of judicial rules in legal matters needed by the judges to be classified in the form of articles on the themes of Islamic jurisprudence. With God’s help, we intend to continue this development in an effort to take the judiciary in our country to the level required by the tolerant Sharia and aspired by citizens. We will not hesitate to support the march and independence of the judiciary.
My brothers and sisters:
Over the past year, we were able to complete a lot of projects related to the Two Holy Mosques. The work of expansion of the Grand Mosque is near finish in general. A great portion has been accomplished with regard to the expansion of Mataf as well as the project of Jamarat. With the grace of God, heralds of these achievements appeared in the last Hajj season where pilgrims performed their rituals in ease and comfort that have been attested by all.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
With the praise of God, the Ninth Development Plan has been concluded. A great portion of it was achieved. We ask God Almighty to make the tenth development plan, discussed by your esteemed council, even more fruitful than its predecessors. The tenth development plan focused on the developmental paths to raise the standard of living and improve the quality of life, improve the services and facilities efficiency, improve mechanisms for the implementation of programs and projects and follow-up, ensure the rational and sustainable development, develop human resources, achieve balanced development among regions of the kingdom, raise the added value of natural resources and promote scientific research and the transition towards a knowledge based economy and society of knowledge while continuing to expand the areas of partnership with the private sector and the development of small enterprises in order to achieve the provision of jobs, maintain the permanent strengthening of social safety nets and care of family and childhood to reach what we all aspire to in the field of elevation of the nation, progress and prosperity.
The state budget for last year carried what previous years’ budgets carried. Through it, the state sought to complete the process of development and encourage investment structure that will create more jobs for citizens, drive economic growth and encourage small enterprises. Focus was on development projects in the social, municipal, water, sanitation, roads, electronic transactions and supporting scientific research fields.
Another portion was devoted to the promotion of two sectors that always come at the forefront of the interest of your state, namely education and health. The budget did not overlook the security and military needs. We were keen to support those sectors with all human and automated requirements of weapons, equipment and others. We thank God that today we have a security and military force that we are proud of and are assure of its effectiveness – God willing – in maintaining security, defending the homeland and protecting the gains and achievements.
Dear Brothers and Sisters
The national workforce development and support for women’s participation in development activities are an important element in the economic development strategy of the kingdom. The state has been keen on providing all that serves the citizens in this regard, so we are continuing to follow up and monitor the results achieved by concerned parties and the level of response of the private sector in this regard to ensure continued progress in order to ensure human resources’ development and expansion of the options before them to create jobs. In the context of supporting this growth, our concerns did not miss the need to stand up for the small enterprises, which are an essential part of our national economy: these facilities were exempt from laborers’ fee, provided that their owners are working full time at them. The total amount of exemptions exceeded 5.4 billion riyals benefiting about 900 thousand Saudi facilities. In order to achieve the necessary level of balance, our approval was issued in the same context to continue application of the Civil Service Board’s decision on the treatment of jobs’ freezing and the study of qualifications rankings at the civil service so as to enhance the civil service systems and raise their level.
The national industry’s support is a basic duty for the state as well as energy saving and conservation. For years, the state has sought and continues to seek providing power from various sources, particularly renewable energy, which planning for the future requires it to be a cornerstone in the development process. We also were keen on development of dependence on non-petroleum alternative energy sources.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Citizens have been and still are the focus of our efforts to provide all that serves them. We stressed on all government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, to provide the best services to citizens. Last year, as in previous years, many health projects were opened, operated and approved in order to increase the bed capacity of hospitals, provide opportunities for treatment at home and promote the employment of Saudis with required qualifications in this sector. Work is continuing to ensure the upgrading of the quality of health services and their development.
Education, as health, has remained a main interest for your country. It was accorded 25% of the budget. It was further accorded SR80 billion, by our order, for the development of education in all its aspects to include students, teachers and schools.
In the context of higher education, we ordered the construction of three new universities in Hafr Albatin, Bisha and Jeddah. We continue working to support education with all of our potentials, with the continuation of our external scholarship program as the number of students on scholarships over nine years totaled more than 250 thousand scholarship students in various parts of the world.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Facilitating citizens’ access to adequate housing according to many options is a permanent focus of interest and your state has worked to provide large areas that meet the needs of the Ministry of Housing in various areas with the award of the infrastructure of this lands as well as building on them to ensure swift achievement with quality. The state is still working to increase allocated areas for housing projects spaces to provide the maximum amount of houses for citizens and, in particular, for those with care priority. This coincides with your state’s provision of all possible to the private sector to actively participate in increasing the supply of housing of various kinds, and raising the percentage of ownership by citizens of their homes through multiple housing finance programs.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Within the scope of public transport system and axis roads connecting the east of the kingdom with its west, south and north and between different regions, provinces and centers in addition to the internal transport in the cities, the establishment of the public transport authority came to regulate public transport services. The state have established giant projects some of which have been completed, some are nearing completion and some are in the process of construction or study including roads, rails and transport networks within cities in a quantum leap to interconnect the kingdom expensive parts.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
The state has been keen in the last year not to overlook the crucial role of the sector of youth and sports and the importance of the inclusion of nationwide facilities serving their needs, with the opening of King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah province. We also ordered the construction of 11 stadiums in the kingdom at the highest international specifications and standards. The approval of licensing seventeen clubs in different regions was also issued.
My brothers and sisters:
In terms of foreign policy, as you know, the region has been and is still going through unrest, strife and crises that have surrounded our country from all sides. We have sought to play an active role at the Gulf, Arab, Islamic and international levels to resolve these crises and to save our country from the negative effects of them. At the level of the Gulf Cooperation Council, we have sought to restore cohesion of the GCC countries and the promotion of its march and coordination among policies of its countries in order to achieve security and stability as a priority for our countries to reach the objectives of union, integration and cooperation in various fields.
On the Arab level, the first Arab issue, the cause of Palestine, has been at the forefront of our foreign concerns and focus of our political movement at the international arenas to support our Palestinian brothers in their continued confrontation of the Israeli aggression. Your state has provided political and financial support for our Palestinian brothers and has been keen on raising the Palestinian voice at all international forums.
We also have stayed in close touch with joint Arab and Islamic action at the Arab League level and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation level. We have been keen on consulting with the Arab and Muslim brothers to resolve the crises plaguing our Arab and Islamic world. We have also provided humanitarian assistance to those affected by these crises, and the needy around the world.
At the international level, your state has played an influential role at the United Nations, the Security Council and the Group of Twenty to push the interests of your country and the interests of our brothers forward and stand with truth and justice. Your country received many world leaders and senior officials of the Arab, Islamic and international countries. Many leaders of the kingdom and its officials visited various countries of the world and participated in conferences that have influence on our interests and our security. All aimed at promotion of Saudi diplomacy, achievement of the interests of your state, defense of Arab and Muslim issues and confrontation of the dangers of terrorism, sedition and division, relying in this on the firm policy of your country calling for dialogue, understanding, reconciliation and the call for peace and harmony.
In the context of interest of the kingdom in the stability of the oil market, your state has continued to pursue a moderate oil policy based on economic bases taking into account the interests of present and future generations in accordance with deliberate policies aiming at market stability, and taking into account the common interests of both producers and consumers.
This continuing constructive work would not have been accomplished without the help of God, then what has been achieved for the Saudi economy of strong growth achieving last year the third place as the world’s largest economy in terms of total reserve assets.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
What has been achieved does not live up to what we seek and to citizens’ aspirations. Our ambitions are limitless and our efforts are consistent and continuous to maintain what has been achieved of the gains and make greater achievements, and the state – God willing – will continue its developmental approach to serve citizens and achieve security, prosperity and well-being.
Dear brothers and sisters, members of the Shura Council:
Your council’s work is appreciated and supported by us and we are familiar with and follow-up the work of your esteemed council which is playing its great role and has achieved a high status and good reputation at home and abroad – praise to God – for its continuous accomplishments on both the internal and international affairs. We are confident that it will continue its blessed march, God willing.
May God guide all to the right path.
Peace, mercy and blessings of God.
Before leaving Majlis Ashura, the Crown Prince reassured the citizens in a press statement on the health of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and his enjoyment of good health.
On the march of Majlis Ashura during last sessions, the Crown Prince described the march as successful and said the council consists of experienced and knowledgeable Saudis making the council successful and helpful to the state.
The opening ceremony was attended by Prince Bandar bin Mohammed bin Abdulrahman; Prince Khalid bin Fahd bin Khalid; Prince Faisal bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer; Prince Mohammed bin Saad bin Abdulaziz; Prince Saud bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz; Prince Dr. Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs; Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer, Undersecretary of Foreign Ministry for multilateral relations; Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Thunayan, President of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu; Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz; Prince Faisal bin Saud bin Mohammed; Prince Saif Al-Islam bin Saud bin Abdulaziz; Prince Dr. Mishaal bin Abdullah bin Musad Counsel of the Crown Prince curt; Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Interior Minister; Prince Dr. Saud bin Salman bin Mohammed; Prince Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman, Al-Dir’iya Governor; Prince Khalid bin Saud bin Khalid, Assistant Foreign Minister; Prince Mohammed bin Saud bin Khalid, Undersecretary of Foreign Ministry for Information and Technology; Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Foreign Minister; Prince Abdulaziz bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz; Prince Dr. Bandar bin Salman bin Mohammed, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques adviser; Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Mohammed, President of Saudi Wildlife Authority; Prince Faisal bin Turki bin Abdulaziz, adviser at Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources; Prince Salman bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz; Prince Naif bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Advisor at Minister of Defense; and Prince Saud bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.
The ceremony was also attended by senior officials and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Source: Saudi Press Agency [spa.gov.sa]