King Salman of Saudi Arabia gave his annual policy speech this week at the beginning of the third year of the Shoura Council’s seventh session. He used to speech to both outline the Kingdom’s foreign policy and to also comment on how progress was being made domestically towards the goals for Vision 2030.
He stated that the Kingdom would continue in its efforts to resolve regional crises. Whether this was in the form of diplomacy and their continued support for an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem or support for the government of Yemen against attacks from the Iranian backed Houthi rebels. He was highly critical of Iran’s decades of attempts to de-stabilise other countries in the region by their support of terrorist groups. In a move which will most probably bring support in the corridors of the White House, he called for the international community to curb Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missiles also its more general destabilising activities.
On the positive front, the King expressed satisfaction at the strengthening of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iraq and pledged to work with other members of the Organisation of Petrol Exporting Countries to try and bring stability to the oil market. As a Kingdom which has gained wealth from the oil market, King Salman was also keen to highlight the humanitarian gestures that Saudi Arabia has, and will continue to make to its friends and allies, saying “It will work with its partners and friends from around the world to help developing and low-income countries, and enable them to grow their economies”.
Domestically, King Salman expressed satisfaction that the country was progressing towards the goals in Vision 2030. To continue this valuable work, he has instructed the Council for Economic Affairs and Development to seek to keep unemployment down to acceptable levels by effectively “future-proofing” the Saudi workforce to equip them, and future generations with the necessary skills for the jobs that will be available. He also recognised the need for the government to work as a partner with the private sector on its ambitious journey for economic growth.
But there is a social care side along with the quest for employment and economic growth. In the same way the Kingdom has sought externally to help less able neighbours, also internally the King has instructed the Crown Prince and ministers in their visits around the region to identify the needy so that targeted assistance can be made to support groups so that they may as self-sufficient as possible using civil society institutions where it is appropriate.