Crown prince salutes ‘unprecedented’ Saudi achievements

Time: 13 November 2020

  • The prince said the government has undertaken extensive restructuring to boost non-oil revenues and is working hard to diversify the economy
  • Prince Mohammed: The Kingdom is one of the best 10 countries globally in terms of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has been able to achieve unprecedented economic and social advances in a short period of time, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Thursday.

Commenting on King Salman’s address to the Shoura Council, the crown prince said that the Kingdom has experienced exponential economic growth in the past three years and he is optimistic that this will accelerate after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Non-oil revenues contributed an estimated SR 1.8 billion ($480 million) to the economy in 2016, he said. Plans were made to increase this contribution, resulting in rapid growth over the past three years, he added.

The crown prince said that authorities in the Kingdom are also working to reduce the unemployment rate as a matter of priority. He said that women account for 64 percent of the total unemployment rate, but a number of reforms have created opportunities that led to an increase in the participation of women in the workforce, from 17 percent to 31 percent in the past year alone.

Prince Mohammed said that although corruption was once rife in the country and had spread like “cancer,” a campaign to tackle this has been very successful, resulting in settlements amounting to SR 247 billion riyals in three years.

After investing more than SR 55 million in digital infrastructure in the past three years, the nation now ranks first among G20 member states in terms of digital competitiveness, and has climbed 40 places on the Digital Infrastructure Index.

During his speech, the prince praised the Public Investment Fund (PIF) for becoming one of the main engines of growth for the Saudi economy.

“We managed to double the size of the PIF from SR 560 billion to more than SR 1.3 trillion,” he said. “We have investments with returns that exceeded 70 percent, and others that exceeded 140 percent.”

He added that the PIF has created more than 190,000 jobs over the past four years.

Turning to the issues of terrorism and extremism, the crown prince said that Saudi Arabia rejects any attempt to associate Islam with terrorism and asserted that intellectual freedom is a means of respect and tolerance.

Speaking a day after a cemetery was attacked in Jeddah, and hours after a shooting at the Saudi embassy in the Netherlands, he vowed that the Kingdom will continue to strike back with an “iron fist” against those who threaten its security and stability. He also reiterated his promise to eradicate any and all forms of extremism in Saudi Arabia.

“In 2017, I pledged to eradicate extremism immediately, and we have actually launched a serious campaign to address its causes and deal with the phenomena,” he said. “Within a year, we eliminated an ideology that took 40 years to create.

“Islam criminalizes these terrorist operations, prohibits bloodshed, and forbids the deception and killing of peaceful people. We promise a deterrent, painful and very severe punishment for anyone who might wish to carry out a terrorist act and employ hate speech.

“We hope that the world will rid itself of contempt for religions and stop attacking religious and national symbols under the pretext of freedom of expression, as this will create fertile grounds for extremism and terrorism.”

Regarding the environment, he said, the amount of conservation land in the Kingdom has been increased from 4 percent to more than 14 percent, the crown prince said, and the Special Forces for Environmental Security was established.

The Ministry of Culture has established 11 organizations to develop the country’s cultural sectors, he said, which has created jobs, contributed to an increasingly thriving economy and improved the overall quality of life.

The Saudi economy is one of the largest and most important in the world, the prince said, and the government has implemented a number of reforms to improve the quality of the labor market for citizens and residents.

“With regard to the rights of expatriates, we have taken numerous measures to restructure the contractual relationship so as to preserve their rights and contribute to increasing maturity in the labor market,” he added.

“Work is underway, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, to reform the labor market and provide more jobs for citizens. One of the Vision’s goals is to reach an unemployment rate of 7 percent by the year 2030.

“The unemployment rate nearly reached 13 percent in 2018. We were able to witness a continuous decrease to 11.8 percent at the beginning of 2020, by increasing the efficiency of government agencies, the investments of the PIF and other government programs and initiatives.”

He added: “Our next goal will be improving citizens’ income.”

The government has also carried out wide-ranging restructuring processes in a number of sectors, in accordance with the goals of Vision 2030, designed to further enhance non-oil revenues.

“If we had not raised non-oil revenues to nearly SR 360 billion this year, but had maintained the same revenue as was earned in 2015 which was estimated at nearly SR100 billion, we would have been forced to reduce the salaries of public-sector employees by more than 30 percent,” the crown prince said.

“Despite cutting the cost-of-living allowance, we have succeeded in preserving citizens’ salaries, as well as most of their allowances and bonuses, maintaining a capital expenditure of SR 137 billion, increasing spending on operations and maintenance, and bearing the high costs of health care due to the pandemic, which have amounted to SR 188 billion.

“Revenue diversification is important and vital for the Kingdom’s sustainability. We are seriously working on this issue through the investments of the PIF, and by supporting new sectors such as tourism, sports, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, space, mining and much more, in addition to working with the private sector.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi crown prince calls for global collaboration to unlock benefits of AI for all

Time: 22 October 2020  

October 2020
  • The COVID-19 crisis has provided an extraordinary opportunity to explore the potential of artificial intelligence, he says

RIYADH: As the world faces unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year offers the perfect opportunity to test the potential of artificial intelligence, according to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In a speech on Wednesday on the opening day of the two-day Global AI Summit hosted by Riyadh — which was delivered on his behalf by Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, president of Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence — the crown prince also called for the nations of the world to work together to develop the capabilities of AI so that its benefits are available to all.

He began by highlighting the Kingdom’s desire to play a prominent part in the global development of AI to “unleash its potential for the good of all humanity.”

He said: “2020, undoubtedly, has been an extraordinary year to test the potential of AI, as we witness the formation of a new global normal that is redefining our ways of life, working and learning.

“This requires all of us to think and work hard to take advantage of artificial intelligence and unleash its full potential to advance our societies and economies.”

In recognition of the importance of the technology, the crown prince announced the launch of a national strategy for data and AI, with the aim of positioning Saudi Arabia at the forefront of AI research and development.

“I hereby invite all dreamers, innovators, investors and thinkers to join us, here in the Kingdom, to achieve our ambitions together and to build a pioneering model; to unlock the value of data and AI in order to build knowledge-based economies and advance our present and future generations,” he added.

Acknowledging the digital gap that exists between developed and developing countries, which has widened as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the crown prince said that the Kingdom is working to close this gap so that all nations can benefit from the potential of AI.

“I invite you all to work in a spirit of cooperation to shape the future of artificial intelligence in a way that serves all societies, prioritizes collaboration over competition, and focuses on reliable and responsible uses and applications of AI to serve humanity.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Russia’s Putin discuss global oil markets

Time: 14 October 2020  

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File/SPA)

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
During the call, they reviewed world oil markets, and the efforts made to achieve and maintain stability, support the growth of the global economy, Saudi Press Agency reported.

They also agreed on the importance of all oil-producing countries continuing to cooperate on and abide by the OPEC+ agreement to cut oil production.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Crown Prince holds call with Iraqi PM

Time: 19 August, 2020

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held a telephone call with Iraq’s prime minister on Wednesday.

During the call, Prince Mohammed and Mustafa Al-Kadhimi discussed efforts to stabilize global oil markets and restore balance to them.

They agreed it was important that all member states were fully committed to the OPEC+ agreement.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi crown prince receives telephone calls checking on King Salman’s health

24/07/20

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received telephone calls from the King of Bahrain, the crown prince of Kuwait and the speaker of Iraq’s parliament checking on King Salman’s health.
The crown prince thanked Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Iraq’s Mohammed Al-Halbousi for their calls and concern for the king’s health.
King Salman underwent successful surgery to have his gallbladder removed on Thursday and is in hospital where he is recovering and receiving further treatment.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Mohammed bin Salman: 3 years as Saudi Arabia’s crown prince

21/06/20

LEGAL/SOCIAL REFORMS

SEPT. 26, 2017

A royal decree lifts a decades-long ban on women driving, starting from June 24, 2018.

OCT. 24, 2017

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledges to return the country to moderate Islam at the inaugural Future Investment Initiative.

MARCH 11, 2018

The Ministry of Justice releases a circular to courts that allows divorced women to instantly retain custody of their children.

MAY 29, 2018

The Council of Ministers approves a law making sexual harassment a crime.

JULY 29, 2019

A royal decree ends restrictions on women traveling. Women aged 21 and over are allowed to travel independently as of Aug. 20, 2019.

SEPT. 27, 2019

Tourist e-visas are offered for the first time. Visitors from 49 countries can use the new visas. The Kingdom’s mandatory conservative dress code for visitors is also relaxed.

APRIL 25, 2020

The Supreme Court abolishes flogging.

APRIL 28, 2020

The Supreme Court abolishes the death penalty for minors

ECONOMY

OCT. 24-26, 2017

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) — Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chairs — organizes the first Future Investment Initiative, gathering investors, innovators, government officials and economic leaders in Riyadh.

NOV. 15-17, 2017

The Misk Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic group founded by the crown prince, holds the first Misk Global Forum in Riyadh, bringing young leaders together with global innovators.

FEB. 15, 2018

The Ministry of Commerce and Investment announces that Saudi women do not need the permission of a male guardian to start their own business.

JUNE 19, 2018

Saudi Arabia wins coveted emerging-market status with MSCI, the world’s largest index provider, positioning it to attract up to $40 billion worth of foreign inflow after a series of reforms.

SEPT. 25, 2018

King Salman inaugurates the Haramain high-speed railway, running 450 kilometers between Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah, in line with Vision 2030’s pledge to improve services for pilgrims.

NOV. 5, 2018

The crown prince launches a project to build the Kingdom’s first nuclear research reactor, with plans announced for 16 nuclear facilities to be constructed over the next 25 years at a cost of $80 billion.

MAY 20, 2019

The Saudi Cabinet approves a Privileged Iqama residency permit — which allows foreign nationals to live and work in Saudi Arabia without a sponsor — for highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds.

JUNE 28, 2019

Saudi Arabia relaxes the 49-percent limit for foreign strategic investors in shares of listed companies in Tadawul, the Kingdom’s stock exchange.

DEC. 11, 2019

Saudi Aramco’s IPO begins listing on Tadawul, raising $25.6 billion, making it the world’s largest IPO.

MAY 17, 2020

PIF buys shares worth $7.7 billion in Boeing, Citigroup, Disney and Facebook.

GIGA-PROJECTS

APRIL 7, 2017

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announces the Qiddiya project, a multibillion-dollar entertainment, sport and cultural city just outside of Riyadh. King Salman inaugurates it at a groundbreaking ceremony on April 28, 2018.

AUG. 1, 2017

The crown prince announces a mega-tourism project for the Red Sea, to be built across a lagoon of 50 islands and projected to bring in $4 billion annually and create 35,000 jobs.

OCT. 24, 2017

The crown prince unveils plans for NEOM, a $500-billion megacity, to be located in the Tabuk region. Set to be the world’s first independent economic zone, it will operate solely on wind and solar power.

SEPT. 26, 2018

PIF announces the Amaala luxury resort, to be located on the northwestern coast of the Red Sea in the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Nature Reserve, with the aim of promoting cultural conservation, sustainability and ecological preservation.

FEB. 10, 2019

The crown prince launches a mega-tourism project in AlUla, home to the ancient site of Hegra, which will include the Sharaan Nature Reserve and a resort designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.

ARTS, CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT

APRIL 18, 2018

The first commercial movie theater opens in Riyadh with a screening of “Black Panther” after a 35-year ban on cinemas is lifted.

MAY 10, 2018

Saudi Arabia participates in the Cannes Film Festival for the first time, with the Saudi Film Council hosting a pavilion in the International Village.

MAY 26, 2018

Saudi Arabia is represented at the Venice Architecture Biennale for the first time, with a pavilion organized by the Misk Art Institute that showcases the works of Saudi architects Abdulrahman and Turki Gazzaz.

DEC. 13-15, 2018

Enrique Iglesias, Amr Diab and the Black Eyed Peas are among the first international performers at the Formula E in Riyadh, for which the first trial tourist visas are granted.

DEC. 21, 2018

The first Winter at Tantora Festival launches, bringing international performers and visitors from around the world to AlUla.

FEB. 27, 2019

Saudi Seasons, a series of festivals staged throughout the Kingdom, begins in the Eastern Province and includes the area’s first international music performances, with Pitbull and Akon taking the stage.

MARCH 27, 2019

The Culture Ministry, headed by Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud, is established, along with the announcement of 11 cultural bodies

MAY 11, 2019

Saudi Arabia returns to the Venice Biennale after an eight-year absence, with a pavilion fronted by Jeddah-based land artist and professor, Dr. Zahrah Al-Ghamdi.

JAN. 31-MARCH 7, 2020

The first edition of Desert X AlUla sees 14 large-scale sculptures by artists from Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and the US transform the landscape.

SPORTS

JULY 9, 2017

A decree approves physical education programs at girls’ schools for the coming academic year, in line with one of the goals of Vision 2030 — to have more people participating in sports.

JAN. 12, 2018

Female fans are allowed to attend football matches in Saudi Arabia for the first time at the Al-Ahli vs. Al-Batin game in Jeddah.

APRIL 27, 2018

The WWE’s Royal Rumble takes place in Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City, beginning a 10-year partnership between the WWE and the General Sports Authority.

AUG. 11, 2018

The first Crown Prince Camel Festival, the world’s largest, kicks off in Taif.

DEC. 14, 2018

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Kingdom’s first ever Formula E-Prix race in Ad Diriyah.

JAN. 16, 2019

The Italian Super Cup match between Serie A sides Juventus and AC Milan takes place in Jeddah.

JUNE 8, 2019

The largest Battle Royale in WWE history is held in Jeddah’s Al-Jowhara Stadium in King Abdullah Sports City.

DEC. 7, 2019

Clash on the Dunes, the first heavyweight boxing title match to be staged in the Middle East, with Anthony Joshua fighting Andy Ruiz Jr., takes place in Riyadh’s Diriyah Stadium.

JAN. 5-17, 2020

Saudi Arabia hosts the Dakar Rally, the first time the legendary desert race has taken place in the Middle East.

FOREIGN VISITS

MARCH 6, 2018

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman begins a landmark visit to the UK, meeting Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Theresa May and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

MARCH 18, 2018

A multi-city tour of the US sees the crown prince meet with US President Donald Trump, as well as a number of business leaders including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

APRIL 9, 2018

During the crown prince’s visit to France, the two countries sign an agreement to collaborate on developing Saudi Arabia’s AlUla into a key tourist attraction.

NOV. 30, 2018

The crown prince represents Saudi Arabia at the G20 Buenos Aires summit.

FEB. 17, 2019

A multi-city tour of Asia begins, with the crown prince visiting Pakistan, India and China. As part of a number of deals signed by the crown prince in Beijing, Saudi Aramco will form Huajin Aramco Petrochemical in partnership with China North Industries Group Corp to build a $10 billion refining and petrochemical complex.

JUNE 26, 2019

The crown prince arrives in the South Korean capital Seoul to strengthen ties between the two countries and to oversee a raft of agreements on energy, cars, tourism and health.

JUNE 27, 2019

The crown prince arrives in Osaka ahead of the G20 Summit, leading the delegation for Saudi Arabia before it assumes the presidency for the 2020 G20 Riyadh Summit.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discusses international developments with Emmanuel Macron

Time: 17 June, 2020

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a call from the French president. (SPA)

RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed regional and international developments with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday.

The crown prince received a call from Macron in which they reviewed relations and discussed a number of issues of common concern, Saudi Press Agency reported.

This article was first published in Arab News

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UN thanks Saudi Arabia for Yemen humanitarian aid amid coronavirus

Time: 16 April, 2020

  • Guterres expressed gratitude for the Kingdom’s announcement of providing $500m to Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman received a phone call on Tuesday from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Guterres expressed his deep gratitude for the Kingdom’s announcement of providing $500 million in humanitarian support to Yemen, its efforts in achieving advanced results and the aiding the Yemeni parties reach a desired peace deal.
“The UN highly appreciates the great efforts of His Highness the Crown Prince in this regard,” Guterres said.
The UN Secretary-General also praised the Kingdom’s great efforts in leading the G20, and the initiatives it has presented in the framework of the international efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The crown prince affirmed the Kingdom’s keenness in all that would achieve the interest, security and stability of the Yemeni people, stressing that the Kingdom will continue to play its role in preserving the security and stability of the region and the world.e Kingdom’s announcement of providing $500 million in humanitarian support to Yemen, its efforts in achieving advanced results and the aiding the Yemeni parties reach a desired peace deal.

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Crown prince discusses efforts against coronavirus with Spanish PM

17/03/20

  • The leaders talked about global efforts to confront the COVID-19

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has discussed the coronavirus pandemic with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

During a phone call on Monday, the leaders talked about global efforts to confront the COVID-19, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The crown prince stressed Saudi Arabia’s efforts to coordinate the international fight against this pandemic.

He also said the Kingdom, through its role presiding over the G20, would adopt policies to ease the economic burden from the outbreak.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince: G20 will coordinate efforts to tackle coronavirus

16/03/20

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed the pandemic with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (SPA)

Mohammed bin Salman holds a phone call with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Says G20 will work on medical solutions and easing economic burden

RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Sunday that the G20 will coordinate efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi Arabia holds the G20 presidency and will host the summit in Riyadh in November.

During a phone call with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the crown prince said the G20 would set policies to help find medical solutions and ease economic burdens, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The crown prince and Johnson “agreed on the need for an internationally coordinated response to the outbreak, particularly on developing a vaccine and limiting the economic disruption caused by the pandemic,” the UK government said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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