King Salman delivered the annual “state of the Kingdom” speech to mark the inauguration of the new session of the Majlis Ash Shoura, the Consultative Council, in Riyadh on December 23, 2016. Here for your consideration is the Saudi Press Agency report on the speech, including the text of the King’s remarks.
Riyadh, Rabi’I 12, 1437, December 23, 2015, SPA — The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud inaugurated the works of the 4th year of the 6th session of the Shura Council at the Council’s headquarters in Riyadh today.
Upon his arrival, the King was received by Prince Abdul-Ilah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh region; Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior; Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Madinah region; Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense; Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif; Prince Abdul-Majeed bin Abdul-Ilah bin Abdulaziz; and Speaker of the Shura Council Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Al-Sheikh.
Immediately after the King’s arrival, the royal anthem was played.
After that, the King was greeted by the Council’s senior officials and heads of committees.
The King watched photos of the sessions of the Shura Council since its inception in 1346 AH.
The inauguration ceremony started with a recitation of verses from the Holy Quran.
Before the King’s speech, the Speaker of the Shura Council Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh delivered a speech in which he welcomed the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud; the Crown Prince; the Deputy Crown Prince; Princes and Ministers in the Shura Council, which begins a new year of its march renewed with achievements and givings, thanks to the vision of this country’s leaders and the unity loyal people.
He said ‘This blessed country lives under a rare form of cohesion between the leadership and the people, an image embodies a coherent sense among the a wise leadership and loyal people in leading to stability, security, prosperity and development.
Dr. Al Al-Sheikh added, ‘Since the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques took the reins of rule, our country is witnessing accelerated leaps toward renewal, prosperity and development and you have initiated since the first week of your blessed era with the adoption of a series of reforms , development and administrative decisions including the cancellation of a number of higher committees and councils and the establishment of two councils: the Council of Political and Security Affairs and the Council of Economic Affairs and Development, as well as the establishment of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid to be a center for the relief of communities suffering from disasters and your announcement of the allocation of one billion Saudi riyals for the Center’s relief and humanitarian works.
On the Kingdom’s Foreign Policy, he said ‘In terms of foreign policy of the Kingdom, the Palestinian cause still occupies an important focus in the Kingdom’s policy while the Kingdom’s efforts continued to support Syrian and Yemeni peoples and getting them rid of their crises.
Moreover, the Speaker of the Shura Council hailed the announcement of forming an alliance against terrorism including 34 Islamic states led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the announcement of the establishment of a joint operations center to be based in Riyadh to coordinate and support the fight against terrorism and the development of necessary programs and mechanisms to support those efforts after the great success achieved by security men in our country who sacrificed their lives for the country and they have our greetings and appreciation.
In his speech, Dr. Al Al-Sheikh addressed the King saying ‘Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, while you graces us today by opening of the works of the fourth and final year of the sixth session of the Shura Council’s activities, it gives me a great pleasure to point out before you that the Shura Council has completed in the third year of this session a set of drafts, regulations, agreements, reports and plans according to the provisions of Article (XV) of its regulation.
At the conclusion of his speech, the speaker of the Shura Council renewed deep thanks and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for his support, attention and follow-up of the Council to achieve his aspirations to serve citizens.
He also expressed thanks and appreciation to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior and to Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense for their support for the works of the Shura Council, expressing his thanks to its members and staff, praying to Allah Almighty to bestow His bounty and generosity upon this blessed country and its leaders and to achieve what everyone wishes of aspirations.
The following is the text of the address of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in the 4th year of the 6th session of the Shura Council:
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Compassionate,
Praise be to Allah, and prayer and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, His Family, and Companions.
I am pleased to inaugurate the works of the 4th year of the 6th session of the Shura Council, praying to Allah Almighty to guide us to perform the responsibility in the best way.
Brothers and sisters,
I am pleased in this meeting to review the internal and external policy of the Kingdom, and the most prominent developments and challenges in this regard, looking forward that we all cooperate in the promotion of the achievements and address the obstacles so as to contribute to upgrading our dear homeland and the level of services provided to its citizens.
The march of development is continuing on a firm pace since the reign of King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud, and later his late sons, until the present era, and on top of our commitments comes what our country was honored by Allah Almighty of the service of the Two Holy Mosques and their visitors of pilgrims and Umrah performers, a commitment which we are proud of and we pledged Allah Almighty to spend dearly in this regard, topped by the State’s interest in the construction of the Two Holy Mosques and their expansion.
Brothers and Sisters,
The development programs and growth being witnessed emanate from religious principles and social values to preserve the rights and set duties, and we are determined to continue those programs in political, cultural, economic, social, and service aspects; and therefore we directed the restructuring of the Cabinet’s bodies followed by the cancellation of numerous councils, commissions and committees, and the transfer of their specialization to each of (Council of Political and Security Affairs, and Council of Economic Affairs and Development), and through these two councils under the supervision and follow-up of the Cabinet, efforts will continue in promoting the march of development and access to the integration of roles, determination of responsibilities, keeping abreast of developments, improvement of the environment of work and strengthening the state’s apparatuses.
Dear brothers and sisters:
The rise in oil prices has contributed, over the past years, to the flow of large financial revenues of which the State was keen on the adoption of several mega development projects and the development of infrastructure as well as enhancing the State’s general reserve, which enabled our country to overcome the repercussions of the drop in oil prices, by not affecting the continuation of the march of development and implementation of development plans and projects, and our economy has continued its real growth despite the international economic fluctuations and falling oil prices, thanks to balanced and prudent economic policies pursued by the State in controlling the public fiscal situations and maintaining stability and balance between resources and spending on mega development projects in all sectors.
We have succeeded in maintaining the levels of public debt, which is still low compared to international rates and the Kingdom is keen to carry out the diversification of income sources and reduce dependence on oil as a major source of income, and our vision of economic reform is based on raising the efficiency of government spending, taking advantage of the economic resources and increasing the returns of government investment. We have directed the Council of Economic Affairs and Development to develop the necessary plans, policies and programs to do that, as our country is the one of the good and giving.
Dear brothers and sisters:
The 10th development plan which kicked off this year on solid economic development base and keeping pace with the aspirations and the most important developments and challenges. The development plan aims to raise the Gross Domestic Product level, consolidate the comprehensive economic development pillars, develop the manpower and raise its employment rates and increase spending on infrastructure, and the Council of Economic Affairs and Development through its mechanisms will follow up to ensure the success of the workflow and enhance the level of performance, and in this context, the National Center for Measuring the Performance of Government Bodies has been established and we have directed, upon what has been recommended by the Council of Economic Affairs and Development that Ministries and government agencies shall submit its trends and visions to the Council.
We are also keen to improve the Saudi commercial market and form an attractive environment for work and investment for national and foreign companies as well as to simplify the procedures and facilitate investment in the Saudi market. We have directed to open the activity of retail and wholesale trade for foreign companies in an effort to diversify the goods and services provided to citizens and their provision with high quality and proper competitive prices and to open new job opportunities and training for Saudi youths.
Dear brothers and sisters :
The health sector remains one of our most prominent priorities as the State is responsible for providing adequate health care for citizens, and we have continued to provide human and financial subsidies for this sector, contributing to upgrading the level of this service. However, we look forward to continuing this trend, including the provision of more national manpower opening more and more medical and health colleges and raising the proportion of scholarships in medical specialties.
As for education, the State was keen to make Saudi human development its most prominent investments, providing all the necessary resources to raise the quality of education, increase its effectiveness, upgrade the level of its beneficiaries and equip them with the required skills and requirements. In this context, the focus of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program for External Scholarship was to harmonize the outputs of education and the needs of labor market so that it contributes to bridging the gap in the labor market of some specialties, particularly medicine and other scientific professions.
With regard to the housing sector, everyone is aware of the care the State is lending to this sector, including the huge budgets allocated for it and all means of support needed to provide adequate housing for beneficiaries. In this regard, the State has encouraged investment in this field and enhanced the role of private sector to become partner complementary to the efforts of the government in achieving this goal. Also, the State sought to achieve balance between supply and demand, stimulate land owners to develop and invest in them so as to contribute to bridging the growing need for housing, and our endorsement for the undeveloped land fees system is part of our endeavor to achieve this goal.
The labor and human resources sector occupies an advanced position in the hierarchy of priorities of the government, which continued to modernize administrative and financial programs arrangements. The development of human resources program was launched as part of raising the efficiency of government agencies and employees performance. The government has recently established the Job-creation Agency to orchestrate coordination and participation efforts among all labor-related government and private agencies and work to develop the job-creating sectors and exploit the competitive advantage in the different administrative regions of the Kingdom for this purpose as well as the General Authority for Small and Medium enterprises and the national program to support the management of projects departments in public entities. The State also paid great attention to the expansion of women’s participation in the country’s development and society in a way that does not contradict with the teachings of our divine religion. Saudi women have proven their efficiency and ability to fulfill their role in various fields, including their active participation in the recently-held municipal elections.
Bearing in mind that the transport sector is the sinew and mainstay of development, the government has pumped large amount of money in order to provide road structure in the Kingdom, with transportation projects continuing to develop and diversify and road projects between cities of the Kingdom increasing e.g. the Two Holy train project, Saudi Railways Company projects and King Abdulaziz Public Transport project in the city of Riyadh.
Dear brothers and sisters:
We are a Muslim society, unified by the faith in Allah, following the doctrine, law and methodology of his book and the Sunnah of His Prophet, peace be upon him. The Islamic Sharia is based on right, justice, tolerance and up-rooting the reasons causing sedition. Accordingly, everyone is aware of the importance of national unity, the rejection of all reasons causing difference and conflicts, hurting the disruption of national unity and tampering the national coherence. Citizens are equal in getting their rights, and fulfilling their obligations and duties. So we, all of us, have to preserve this unity, and decisively address evil and sedition calls whatever their source or means of dissemination. In this regard, the media have to hold great responsibility.
Dear brothers and sisters:
Your state continues to support the efforts being exerted to confront the challenges and risks engulfing the Arab and Islamic nations. In this regard, we have directed the Council for Political and Security Affairs to propose the necessary plans, programs and visions to meet these challenges and risks.
Security is among the most important blessings bestowed by Allah Almighty on our country, being the pillar of stability and welfare of peoples. The Saudi citizen has, and still, observing his responsibility in this regard. He is the front-runner security man and his leadership and government’s right hand in defeating the spiteful and the greedy enemies of our nation. However, we will not allow anyone to tamper with our security and stability.
Dear brothers and sisters:
Terrorism is a global scourge that has hurt many countries and peoples as it has no religion nor homeland. The security authorities of our State have exerted great efforts instead fasting terrorists firmly and strongly. They have managed, thanks to Allah Almighty, to pursue them, prosecute them and dismantle their networks and cells in addition to successfully carrying out pre-emptive security operations that effectively contributed to evade their evils and foil their plans. Furthermore, we are determined, with the help of Allah, to support and strengthen our security capabilities by all means and modern appliances that enable them to perform their duties and undertake responsibilities in the best way as it is the source of our pride.
We, in the Kingdom, have suffered from the scourge of terrorism. We were and are still keen to continue firmly and decisively fighting and combating the thoughts of terrorists who dare to borrow Islamic teachings to justify their ill doings while Islam is completely innocent of such fallacy. Combating and addressing terrorism, uprooting its roots and draining its resources is, no doubt, a joint international responsibility as its danger surrounds everybody. Emanating from this, the Islamic Military Alliance, led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was formed to combat terrorism. In this regard, a joint operations center was established in the city of Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations for the fight of terrorism and develop the necessary programs and mechanisms supporting those efforts and put the appropriate arrangements for coordination with friendly and peace-loving countries and international bodies for facilitating the international efforts to combat terrorism and maintain international peace and security. The Kingdom has made and will continue to spare no effort in this regard.
Dear brothers and sisters:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is keen to defend the Arab and Islamic issues at international platforms, topped by obtaining the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and establishing their independent state with Al-Quds as its capital, an endeavor long-sought by the Kingdom. In this concern, the Kingdom confirms once more that the Israeli recent violations, notably, the escalation and irresponsible actions of killing children, women and civilians and defenseless innocents as well as storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque and violation of its sanctity and targeting worshipers are great crimes which should be halted. The continuing Israeli settlements construction works must be suspended and the old one be removed. The Kingdom calls upon the international community to shoulder its responsibilities and take the necessary measures to protect the Palestinian people against the Israeli aggressive practices which are provocation for all Arab and Muslim feelings.
Within the framework of the Kingdom’s keenness to perform its duties towards the brotherly countries and support them, the ‘Determination Storm’ was launched with participation of a number of Arab and Islamic countries at the request of the Yemeni legitimate government to save Yemen from a coup against its legitimacy, security and stability. This group sought to dominate and sow discord in the region, threaten the security of the neighboring states, including the Kingdom, and strictly carry out regional plots seeking to interfere in the internal affairs of the Arab countries through turning Yemen into a hotbed of sectarian and doctrinal conflicts, a development triggering the coalition countries to deal with this threat encircling the security and people of Yemen as well as the entire Arab security and to restore the Yemeni legitimacy and stability, ward off the threats posed by this group and its regional supporters and secure the region’s stability and territorial integrity. Then, the Renewal of Hope Operation was launched in addition to programs of relief and humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people through King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Works in order for the Yemeni people to overcome the serious sufferings and bypass the extraordinary circumstances and conditions to pave the way for regaining their natural role regionally and internationally in an atmosphere of security and stability.
Since beginning of the crisis until now, the Kingdom was calling for a political solution in accordance with the GCC initiative, the outcomes of the national comprehensive dialogue and the Security Council resolution No. (2216).
The Kingdom’s stance towards the Syrian crisis is also clear since its start. It was seeking that Syria remains a unified homeland for all Syrian communities and calls for a political solution to snatch the country out Syria of its crisis and enable its people to establish a transitional government composed of moderate opposition forces that guarantee the unity of the Syrians, departure of foreign troops and terrorist organizations which would have never find fertile ground in Syria except for the Syrian regime’s ugly policies which led to the extermination of hundreds of thousands of the Syrians and the displacement of millions. Based on the keenness to achieve security, stability and justice in Syria, the Kingdom hosted a meeting for all spectrums and components of the Syrian opposition aiming to find a political solution ensuring the unity of the Syrian territories in accordance with the resolutions of Geneva (1).
Dear brothers and sisters:
During the recent period, we were keen to enhance and develop our relations with many of the sisterly and friendly countries through exchanging visits with many of the leaders of the world. We will continue this path to enhance the Kingdom’s regional and international role. Within this framework, the Kingdom hosted the 4th Summit of Arab-South American Countries which issued ‘Riyadh Declaration’ which underscored the importance of full implementation of Security Council resolution on the Yemeni crisis and the rejection of any interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region by foreign powers, otherwise considered a violation of the United Nations Charter on good-neighborliness and principles. The Riyadh Declaration stressed the importance of respecting independence of the states and their unity, territorial integrity and solving disputes with peaceful means. The declaration also voiced recognition of the State of Palestine in addition to a number of political and economic issues concerning the Arab and South American countries.
The Kingdom also participated in the Group of Twenty (G-20) Summit hosted by the Republic of Turkey, a step reflecting the prestigious and important position of our country in the map of the global economy. During this summit, the Kingdom has contributed to develop economic relations among the countries, overcome the obstacles and constraints and encourage and support the flow of investments, exchange of the expertise, technology transfer and cooperation in all fields for the benefit and interest of all.
Within the framework of continuous coordination with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the 36th Session of the Supreme Council of the (GCC) Member States was held in Riyadh on 27/28, Safar, 1437H. During the summit, we provided our vision to the GCC leaders in order to enhance march of the GCC joint action which was approved by the Supreme Council as per ‘Riyadh Declaration’ in addition to the resolutions issued in this session in various fields, hoping to achieve the aspirations of the GCC peoples.
In the field of energy, the Kingdom continued its interest in the stability of oil market by pursuing a balanced policy taking into account the interests of producers and consumers alike, ensuring the stability of the market and protecting the interests of present and future generations. The Kingdom is keen to continue exploration of oil, gas and other natural resources in the Kingdom. The prospects for our economy are promising, thanks to Allah Almighty.
Dear brothers and sisters:
Your State is keen to improve performance of its agencies in order to achieve aspirations and hopes of its citizens in all fields. It is aware that many challenges are facing the Kingdom, but it is determined to overcome them and provide a decent life for its citizens. We appreciate the role of Majlis Al-Shura and its sound views regarding internal and external affairs. We look forward to seeing the council continuing to play its role seriously and effectively.
May Allah Help All of Us.
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullah Wabrakatuh.
Then, a photo-session was held for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud with the members of Majlis Al-Shura. Then, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques shook hands with the members.
The national anthem was played.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Prince Bandar bin Mohammed bin Abdulrahman; Prince Khalid bin Fahd bin Khalid; Prince Abdullah bin Musead bin Abdulrahman; Prince Mohammed bin Saad bin Abdulaziz; Prince Turki Al-Faisal; Prince Khalid bin Saad bin Abdulaziz; Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; Prince Dr. Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz, Minister of the State, Member of the Cabinet and Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Minister of the National Guard; Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Thunayan, Chairman of the Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu; Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom; Prince Fahd bin Abdullah bin Musead; Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, President of the General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage; Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz; Prince Faisal bin Saud bin Mohammed; Prince Dr. Saud bin Salman bin Mohammed; Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh, General Mufti of the Kingdom and Head of the Senior Scholars Commission, Religious Research Department and Ifta, and a number of princes, ministers, senior military and civil officials and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Kingdom.