A new era dawned in Saudi Arabia on Monday under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman as citizens across the country expressed their confidence in the new king’s ability to take the Kingdom to new heights of progress and prosperity.
The three-day mourning period for the late King Abdullah ended Sunday. King Salman, Crown Prince Muqrin, Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif and other royal family members had received condolences from world leaders and citizens on Saturday and Sunday.
Saudis in the Kingdom and abroad have pledged their allegiance to the country’s new leaders, in personal meetings or through regional governors and ambassadors abroad.
On Sunday, thousands of citizens stood in line in front of Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh to meet King Salman. According to a report carried by Asharq Al-Awsat, there was no blockade in front of the palace to restrict entry.
“There was no discrimination. Everybody, including princes, ministers, Shoura members and ordinary citizens were allowed to meet the king without following any protocol,” the report said.
Citizens from across the Kingdom came in their traditional attire. Sheikh Ibrahim bin Mohammed Al-Khereiji, an elderly man who was imam of the big mosque in Al-Kharj, made his way to the palace in a wheelchair.
The man’s son, Abdul Aziz, said his father had met all the previous six kings. “He was a member of the delegation set up by King Abdul Aziz to receive King Farouk of Egypt when the latter visited the Kingdom on Jan. 24, 1945,” the son said.
Al-Khereiji was appointed by King Abdul Aziz as a secretary in Al-Kharj and was in charge of distributing land among citizens. He established contact with King Salman when he was appointed the governor of Riyadh in 1955, the son said.
The smooth transition in Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah has won applause from Saudis and foreign leaders. Saudi Ambassador to Egypt Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Qattan said the smooth transition has strengthened citizens’ confidence in the new leadership.
Speaking to the Saudi Press Agency after receiving citizens who came to express their condolences and pledge their allegiance to the new leadership, Qattan said Saudis have been impressed by King Salman’s wisdom and administrative expertise.
“King Salman has been in the government for the last 60 years, dedicating his life to the service of the Kingdom and its people. All Saudis will definitely rally behind their wise leadership as usual,” the ambassador said.
In his keynote speech after ascending the throne, King Salman said that his government would follow the straight path, based on the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, without deviating from the policies of his predecessors.
The new leadership has taken over at a time when Saudi Arabia faces several challenges including falling oil prices — the Kingdom depends on oil for about 90 percent of its revenue — and the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State terrorist group in the north and the Houthis in the south.
“It is no secret that there has been no major change for several decades in Saudi foreign policy. It has always been based on certain basic principles and various geographic, historical, religious, economic, security and political factors,” said Salman Aldossary, editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.
He said noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries, establishing strong relations with Gulf, Arab and Islamic countries, supporting Arab and Islamic causes and cooperation with other friendly countries, are the hallmarks of Saudi foreign policy. This included the Kingdom’s continuous efforts to ensure stability in the international oil market because it is one of the world’s largest oil producers, he said.
Mohammed bin Daqqas, a former employee at the royal court, said King Salman has always insisted on punctuality and hard work. “When he was the governor of Riyadh, he used to look into the matters of citizens himself. One day when he was outside the Kingdom, he contacted an official at the governorate to attend to the case of a citizen.
The official had left the office 30 minutes before the end of the working day. He then asked the official to return to the office and complete the work for that citizen.”
Reprinted with permission of Arab News.
Saudi Aramco continues to pursue its long term strategy to become the world’s leading integrated energy enterprise despite the current downturn in the global oil industry, Khalid A. Al-Falih, President and CEO, Saudi Aramco reiterated at the 8th Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF) in Riyadh.
During a keynote session titled Saudi Aramco’s Future Vision and its Role in Transforming the National Economy, Al-Falih said the company’s investments are deeply aligned with initiatives and programs to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy. Saudi Aramco is working closely with government agencies, including the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), to attract foreign investments to the Kingdom. He outlined his vision for a Saudi economy that is more competitive and attractive to foreign investors and powered by a highly-skilled workforce that has a greater participation by Saudi Nationals.
“Saudi Aramco is committed to its long-term strategy to become the world’s leading, integrated energy and chemicals company. We are creating economic opportunity by diversifying, investing in new sectors and attracting foreign direct investment into our supply chain and contracting business.” said Al-Falih.
Addressing the impact of the current downturn on the company’s strategy, Al-Falih said that the lower price environment is an opportunity for Saudi Aramco and the industry as a whole to sharpen its fiscal discipline and drive value. Saudi Aramco remains “in position, ready to adjust to market dynamics” with “the resources, capabilities and long-term vision to optimize the natural resources of the Kingdom.”
Al-Falih said Saudi Aramco is investing in unconventional gas that will fuel new industries and create new jobs in the Kingdom. “Saudi Arabia will be the next frontier for the development of shale gas and unconventionals,” he said.
Al-Falih highlighted the collaborative role of Saudi Aramco, including the Aramco Entrepreneurship Centre (Wa’ed), to drive the Small and Medium Enterprise sector and local innovation, focusing effort on the development and commercialization of critical technologies that the Kingdom’s expanding economy requires.
Al-Falih also emphasized the importance of education and skills development in boosting the long-term prospects of the Kingdom, referencing Saudi Aramco’s expanding network of global research centers and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs implemented across the Kingdom.
In concluding, Al-Falih said “Saudi Aramco is building its talent and technology capabilities which, ultimately, are our strongest competitive advantages.” he continued, “With Saudi and international universities and many other collaborative partners Saudi Aramco is part of a movement in Saudi Arabia to drive high-end knowledge creation across the Kingdom.”
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman ascended to the throne on Jan. 23. His assignment came in smooth transition following the demise of King Abdullah. King Salman is not new to world. He is recognized as a seasoned and respected politician.
People well-versed with the political history of Saudi Arabia know fully well that King Salman had been active since the 1960s. He could be seen in the photographs with King Faisal and remained a confidante of King Khalid. During the reign of King Fahd, he was assigned several important responsibilities. King Salman is undoubtedly a very familiar face in the world of international and regional politics.
While late King Abdullah will be dearly missed, it is heartening to see King Salman as the 7th Saudi king. King Salman will continue to lead the Kingdom on the road to progress and reforms as envisioned by late King Abdullah.
As mentioned above, King Salman’s leadership skills had become obvious at the very initial stages of his career. He remained the emir of Riyadh region for decades and personally supervised the transformation of the capital city from a modest town to a world-class metropolis.
The smooth transition of power has once again put western speculations to rest. This writer always feels amazed at Western fixation with the succession process of Saudi Arabia. Western analysts actually tend to ignore the social and historical aspects of Saudi Arabia making it difficult for them to understand the process correctly.
The Saudi royal family has been a part of local society for hundreds of years and every tribe and every family in the Kingdom has made direct contributions to the establishment of Saudi Arabia. And it is still common for many Saudis to hear their grandparents’ stories of their own fathers and grandfathers having direct contact with members of the Al-Saud family many years before the establishment of modern Saudi Arabia. The Al-Saud royal family enjoys a continued and strong popularity that only Saudis can truly understand.
The Al-Saud presence in Arabia did not come out of the blue nor did the family ascend to the thrown through a sudden military coup. It was Al-Saud family members and common Saudis who worked hand-in-hand until the day King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman founded modern day Saudi Arabia in 1932. And it is very important that the western press know that the Saudi royal succession is one of the smoothest and most transparent transitions in the world.
For us Saudis, as long as it is a Saudi royal family member at the helm, we get a good night’s sleep. We’ll let others worry about analysis. For the past 60 years, some of the western media pundits have been talking about Saudi Arabia’s stability as if we were in a civil war. The doors of the king, crown prince and all the Saudi provinces’ governors are open to all Saudis and we have never felt that there is a contact gap between the ruler and the ruled.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Another Smooth Transition reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
In the early hours of Friday morning my wife called me on the phone and she was crying like a baby…Yes like a baby. I did not ask why she was crying because I was simply crying myself for the same reason and so did millions of Saudis, expatriates living in the Kingdom and millions around the world. The tears are genuine and sincere…. Custodian of The Two Holy Mosque King Abdullah is dead.
Since the day Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz became king on August of 2005, he set the country’s progress in motion with massive mega projects, social reforms, political reforms and most important his efforts to bring the whole world together through open dialogue between all faiths. King Abdullah was not only the man of the year, but rather he was the man of the decade. And not just in Saudi Arabia, but throughout the world. Hours after his death I received many e-mails from different parts of the world from people I had never met or knew. The late King Abdullah was simply an international icon. He was a man of wisdom and vision that looked beyond the horizon. The whole world is mourning him with genuine tears. Saudi Arabia and what happens inside it is the whole world’s concern. It is one of the most influential countries in the world.
After the official announcement of the death of King Abdullah, it was announced that Crown Prince Salman is the king and Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin the crown prince. The simple transparent announcement signaled a smooth transition of power in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia now has a new king and a new crown prince. Both of them are very highly talented politicians and leaders. Prince Salman, now the king, has been the governor of Riyadh province for decades and Riyadh is known to be the most populated city and most government offices are located there. This gave him a very valuable experience in civil management and later on when he became the crown prince and the minister of defense. In addition he is very well known in the international arena.
He is known in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world to be one of the top historians with knowledge of many details about the history and people.
As for Crown Prince Muqrin, he started his life as a fighter pilot and was put to different challenges at a very early stage of his life. He is highly educated and held many military positions. His positions in the military taught him patience and determination. After leaving the military, he became the governor of Hail province and later the governor of Madinah. Also he held the position of the director general of Saudi Intelligence Agency.
Crown Prince Muqrin is known to be one of the top astronomers. He is a star who is in love with the stars.
Saudis and many observers around the world are confident that the drive to modernize and develop Saudi Arabia will continue and its foreign policy as a peace loving country will stay the course. Saudis are confident about the future of their Kingdom and the smooth transition showed again the stability of Saudi Arabia and it also reflected the strong bond and the open relation between the ruler and the ruled.
We pray to Allah to grant our late King Abdullah the highest place in Heaven and give our new King Salman and Crown Prince Muqrin the strength to take the country to new heights. We all wish many years of prosperity for the Kingdom under King Salman’s leadership.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. King Abdullah And The Genuine reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Khalid A. Al Falih, Saudi Aramco President and CEO, participated on January 21 in a panel discussion entitled The Geo-Economics of Energy at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
In his comments Mr. Al-Falih outlined key factors behind current market conditions and emphasized that, despite market volatility, Saudi Aramco is resilient and committed to its long-term strategy.
The panel session, included Fatih Birol, Chief Economist, International Energy Agency (IEA), Arkady Dvorkovich, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Dalia Grybauskaite, President of Lithuania, Claudio Descalzi, Chief Executive Officer, Eni, Italy, Abdalla Salem El Badri, Secretary-General, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and Daniel Yergin, Vice-Chairman, IHS, and panel moderator.
To view a recording of the panel discussion please visit: http://www.saudiaramco.com/en/home/news-media/live-streaming.html