Saudi Arabia Announces Record State Budget for 2018

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz announced a record state budget for 2018. (SPA)
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz announced a record state budget for 2018. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia Announces Record State Budget for 2018

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz announced a record state budget for 2018. (SPA)
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz announced a record state budget for 2018. (SPA)

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz unveiled on Tuesday the 2018 state budget, the largest in the Kingdom’s history, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

He made the announcement during a cabinet session held at the Yamama Palace in Riyadh, where he addressed the nation to reveal the record budget.

He said that the new budget was based on low oil price levels compared to previous years, in order to continue the development and enhancement process towards achieving the Kingdom Vision 2030.

Vision 2030 aims at increasing the size of the national economy and sustain its growth, through diversification of economic base, sources of income and the capacity to adapt with developments and overcoming challenges.

King Salman said that dozens of programs have been launched to realize the goals of diversifying the economic base and empower the private sector to play a major role, in sustaining expenditure efficiency, in order to realize appropriate economic growth rates, mitigate the burden on the citizens and tackle possible impacts, in addition to supporting the private sector, reported SPA.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques hailed achievements related to decreasing the deficit of the budget of the current fiscal year that exceeded 25% compared to the last fiscal year, despite increasing the expenditure. He added that the target is to decrease the deficit of the next year budget to be lesser than 8% of the Gross Domestic Product, in spite of the great and expansionary volume of the budget.

The King stated that government programs have managed to downsize dependency on oil to about 50%. He stressed that the development funds and the General Investments Fund take part in the capital and investment expenditure, with portions that exceeded capital expenditure volume, in the budgets of previous years, in addition to government keeping leading with capital expenditure, at an increase of 13%.

As a result, the government decided to invest these successes, expand development and adjust the fiscal balance program to be the year of balance (2023).

While maintaining fiscal policies, including the level of debt to GDP to remain below (30%) with a level of deficit to be gradually decreased.

This budget continues to disburse on various development sectors in all regions of the Kingdom at high rates.

It also includes allocations for housing, and a large expenditure of government funds that would contribute to push the economic wheel forward, and provide more employment opportunities for male and female citizens.

“We have directed ministers and all officials to raise the level of performance, develop government services and enhance the efficiency of expenditure and transparency to meet the aspirations and the satisfaction of male and female citizens for the services provided to them as well as to reflect the desired objectives of the allocated amounts in this budget, and the emphasis on continuing to fight corruption and maintain public money,” said King Salman.

“I have taken into consideration the continuation of work towards comprehensive and balanced development in all regions of the Kingdom, without any distinction.”



Sultan of Oman, Jordan King Discuss Joint Cooperation

Jordan's King Abdullah reviews an honor guard with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman upon his arrival at Marka military airport, in Amman, Jordan May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Jehad Shelbak
Jordan's King Abdullah reviews an honor guard with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman upon his arrival at Marka military airport, in Amman, Jordan May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Jehad Shelbak
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Sultan of Oman, Jordan King Discuss Joint Cooperation

Jordan's King Abdullah reviews an honor guard with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman upon his arrival at Marka military airport, in Amman, Jordan May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Jehad Shelbak
Jordan's King Abdullah reviews an honor guard with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman upon his arrival at Marka military airport, in Amman, Jordan May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Jehad Shelbak

The Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tarik and Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein held expanded talks on Wednesday in Amman and stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
The two monarchs met at the Basman Palace and exchanged views on issues of common concern on the Arab and international arenas, most notably the current situation in the Gaza Strip and in the occupied Palestinian territories.
They stressed the need to reach an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, protect civilians and intensify efforts to deliver sufficient humanitarian aid to all parts of the Gaza Strip.
They reviewed aspects of bilateral cooperation and means of promoting them at various levels to serve the joint interests and the fraternal ties between the two countries, the Oman News Agency said.
Prior to the session, the Sultan of Oman and the Jordanian King held a closed-door meeting.
On the Omani side, the meeting was attended by Sayyid Shihab bin Tarik Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for Defense Affairs; Sayyid Bilarab bin Haitham Al Said, Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal Al Busaidi, Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court Gen.; Sultan bin Mohammed Al Nuamani, Minister of the Royal Office; Sayyid Badr bin Hamad Al Busaidi, Foreign Minister; Dr. Hamad bin Said Al Aufi, Head of the Private Office; Abdussalam bin Mohammed Al Murshidi, Chairman of Oman Investment Authority; and Sheikh Fahd bin Abdulrahman Al Ojaili, Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
From the Jordanian side the meeting was attended by Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein, Head of the Mission of Honour that accompanies His Majesty the Sultan; Dr. Bisher Khasawneh, Prime Minister of Jordan; Yousef Issawi, Chief of the Royal Court; Ayman Safadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates; Maj.Gen Ahmad Husni, Chief of the General Intelligence Department; Jaafar Hassan, Director of the King’s Office; Kholoud Saqqaf, Minister of Investment; Amjad Quhaiwi, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the Sultanate of Oman and some senior Jordanian officials.
Sultan Haitham arrived in Jordan on Wednesday for a two-day visit.


Saudi Crown Prince, French President Discuss Ties over Phone

French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shake hands ahead of a working dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 28, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shake hands ahead of a working dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 28, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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Saudi Crown Prince, French President Discuss Ties over Phone

French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shake hands ahead of a working dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 28, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shake hands ahead of a working dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 28, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron held a phone call on Wednesday.
During the call, the two sides exchanged congratulations on the agreement signed between Saudia and Airbus to purchase 105 aircraft.
They also reviewed relations and ways to develop existing cooperation in a number of fields, and discussed a number of issues of common interest.
The two sides exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues, foremost of which the latest development in the situation in Gaza, and the need to intensify efforts and international communications to end the war and all forms of escalation, and to work to deliver sufficient humanitarian aid.


GCC, Arab Parliament Hail Spain, Norway, and Ireland for Recognizing State of Palestine

A man holds the Palestinian flag during a protest in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, in Mosul, Iraq, October 14, 2023. (Reuters)
A man holds the Palestinian flag during a protest in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, in Mosul, Iraq, October 14, 2023. (Reuters)
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GCC, Arab Parliament Hail Spain, Norway, and Ireland for Recognizing State of Palestine

A man holds the Palestinian flag during a protest in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, in Mosul, Iraq, October 14, 2023. (Reuters)
A man holds the Palestinian flag during a protest in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, in Mosul, Iraq, October 14, 2023. (Reuters)

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Jasem Albudaiwi has endorsed the recent recognition of Palestine by Spain, Ireland, and Norway.
In a statement on Wednesday, Albudaiwi said this recognition is "a major turning point" for the two-state solution and "a powerful nudge" for other countries to follow suit. 
Recognition of Palestine, he argued, would be a key step towards Palestinians finally securing all their rights and living freely, with justice and independence. This recognition comes after years of what Albudaiwi described as "suffering under Israeli occupation, facing constant injustice and rights violations."
Albudaiwi called on the international community to play its role in supporting the Palestinian people to obtain the full right to establish their state.
He also reaffirmed the firm stance of the GCC in support of the Palestinian cause and reaching a solution based on ending the Israeli occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Also, the Arab Parliament has expressed its appreciation for the new step.
In a statement, the parliament hailed this move as "a triumph for justice and a testament to the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state."
Emphasizing the growing global recognition of Palestine, the parliament asserted that such actions serve as a concrete response to "the failed endeavours of occupation forces aiming to eradicate the Palestinian cause—an objective that is destined to falter," SPA reported.
Reiterating its call, the Arab Parliament urged all nations that have yet to acknowledge the State of Palestine to take decisive steps towards recognition. Doing so, it emphasized, would constitute a vital stride towards rectifying the historical injustices endured by the Palestinian people throughout decades of occupation. The call aligns with the internationally recognized two-state solution, endorsed by numerous resolutions of international legitimacy.


Saudi Arabia Welcomes 3 European Countries’ Decision to Recognize State of Palestine

Saudi Arabia welcomed on Wednesday the decision of Norway, Ireland and Spain to recognize the state of Palestine. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia welcomed on Wednesday the decision of Norway, Ireland and Spain to recognize the state of Palestine. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia Welcomes 3 European Countries’ Decision to Recognize State of Palestine

Saudi Arabia welcomed on Wednesday the decision of Norway, Ireland and Spain to recognize the state of Palestine. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia welcomed on Wednesday the decision of Norway, Ireland and Spain to recognize the state of Palestine. (SPA)

Saudi Arabia welcomed on Wednesday the decision of Norway, Ireland and Spain to recognize the state of Palestine.

The move “reflects the international consensus over the right of the Palestinian people to determine their fate,” it said.

It called on remaining countries to follow in their footsteps, which should help lead the way to a “trusted irreversible path that achieves just and lasting peace that secures the rights of the Palestinian people.”

The Kingdom underscored its call on the “international community, especially permanent members of the United Nations Security Council that have not yet recognized a Palestinian state, of the importance to do so.”

It reiterated that such a state should be based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) also welcomed the recognition of the state of Palestine.

GCC Secretary General Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi said the move is a “pivotal and strategic” step forward in implementing the two-state solution.

It also provides strong motivation for all countries to take similar steps, which will pave the way for the Palestinian people “to obtain all of their rights and live in peace after several years of oppression and dangerous violations under Israeli occupation.”

Albudaiwi called on the entire international community to “play their part in supporting the Palestinian people so that they can obtain their right of the establishment of an independent state.”


Saudi Arabia’s SDRPY Lays Foundation Stone for Hospital Project in Yemen’s Abyan Governorate

The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) laid the foundation stone on Tuesday for the Sabah Hospital project in the Sabah District of Yemen’s Abyan Governorate. (SPA)
The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) laid the foundation stone on Tuesday for the Sabah Hospital project in the Sabah District of Yemen’s Abyan Governorate. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s SDRPY Lays Foundation Stone for Hospital Project in Yemen’s Abyan Governorate

The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) laid the foundation stone on Tuesday for the Sabah Hospital project in the Sabah District of Yemen’s Abyan Governorate. (SPA)
The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) laid the foundation stone on Tuesday for the Sabah Hospital project in the Sabah District of Yemen’s Abyan Governorate. (SPA)

The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) laid the foundation stone on Tuesday for the Sabah Hospital project in the Sabah District of Yemen’s Abyan Governorate.

The project is part of the SDRPY’s initiatives to support the health sector and aims to boost healthcare services across Yemeni governorates.

The hospital will include several facilities, such as departments for women and childbirth, maternity and childcare, inpatient rooms, operating rooms, and emergency services.

It will also feature various clinics, including internal medicine, dental, and ENT (ear, nose, and throat) clinics, as well as radiology and laboratory rooms.

The hospital will be equipped with laboratory, radiology, and sterilization equipment, and devices for surgical operations.

The SDRPY has worked to improve and bolster the efficiency of healthcare facilities by constructing and equipping hospitals and health centers, as well as operating them.

It has carried out over 34 projects and initiatives to support the health sector that have benefitted over 4.4 million people.

The SDRPY has implemented over 229 developmental projects and initiatives across eight vital sectors, including education, health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture and fisheries, across Yemen.


Saudi Arabia, Iraq Discuss Strengthening Border Security Cooperation

An aerial view of central Baghdad. Reuters file photo
An aerial view of central Baghdad. Reuters file photo
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Saudi Arabia, Iraq Discuss Strengthening Border Security Cooperation

An aerial view of central Baghdad. Reuters file photo
An aerial view of central Baghdad. Reuters file photo

Saudi and Iraqi officials discussed in Baghdad on Tuesday efforts to boost border security cooperation.

Director General of the Saudi Border Guards Major General Shayie bin Salem Al-Wadaani led the Saudi delegation participating in the fourth meeting of border officials between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Held at the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, the meeting tackled several issues related to bolstering border security cooperation.


GCC Secretary General Visits Iranian Embassy in Riyadh to Offer Condolences on Raisi’s Death

Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jasem Albudaiwi
Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jasem Albudaiwi
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GCC Secretary General Visits Iranian Embassy in Riyadh to Offer Condolences on Raisi’s Death

Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jasem Albudaiwi
Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jasem Albudaiwi

Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi visited the Iranian Embassy in Riyadh on Tuesday to extend his condolences to Tehran’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Alireza Enayati on the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his accompanying delegation.

Albudaiwi stressed the solidarity of the GCC with the government and people of Iran.

Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.


Deputy Governor of Makkah Region Chairs Meeting of Central Hajj Committee

The meeting focused on reviewing the operational plans and ensuring the readiness of various agencies and services for this year's Hajj. (SPA)
The meeting focused on reviewing the operational plans and ensuring the readiness of various agencies and services for this year's Hajj. (SPA)
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Deputy Governor of Makkah Region Chairs Meeting of Central Hajj Committee

The meeting focused on reviewing the operational plans and ensuring the readiness of various agencies and services for this year's Hajj. (SPA)
The meeting focused on reviewing the operational plans and ensuring the readiness of various agencies and services for this year's Hajj. (SPA)

Governor of the Makkah Region and Chairman of the Central Hajj Committee Prince Khalid bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz and Deputy Governor of Makkah Region and Vice Chairman of the Central Hajj Committee Prince Saud bin Mishaal bin Abdulaziz chaired on Tuesday a meeting of the Central Hajj Committee in Jeddah.

The meeting focused on reviewing the operational plans and ensuring the readiness of various agencies and services for this year's Hajj pilgrimage.

The Holy Makkah Municipality presented its plan for this year's Hajj, which involves 11,800 employees and workers and 28 municipal service centers in the holy sites.

These centers are strategically located throughout the holy sites area, operate around the clock and boast the necessary workforce and logistical support.

Central teams have been allocated to handle emergencies.

The municipality has also prepared teams and committees to oversee markets, food stores, restaurants, cleaning, and environmental sanitation.

The Ministry of Health has prepared 16 hospitals, 123 health centers, and five seasonal health centers in Makkah and the holy sites.

The Supreme Authority for Hajj Transport Control presented its operational plan for transporting pilgrims to and from the Grand Mosque, which involves 3,500 buses. Around 12 million trips will be carried out during the Hajj.


Crown Prince Reassures Saudis About King Salman’s Health

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, chairs the cabinet meeting in Jeddah on Tuesday. (SPA)
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, chairs the cabinet meeting in Jeddah on Tuesday. (SPA)
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Crown Prince Reassures Saudis About King Salman’s Health

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, chairs the cabinet meeting in Jeddah on Tuesday. (SPA)
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, chairs the cabinet meeting in Jeddah on Tuesday. (SPA)

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, assured on Tuesday everybody about the health of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Crown Prince Mohammed chaired a cabinet meeting in Jeddah during which he expressed his gratitude to everyone who inquired about King Salman’s health.

He asked God Almighty that King Salman have a speedy recovery and good health.

The cabinet then reviewed the outcomes of the 33rd Arab League summit that was held in Bahrain. It highlighted Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the 32nd Arab League summit and its keenness on Arab causes, developing collective work, bolstering regional security and defending the interests of Arab countries and their people.

The cabinet welcomed the outcomes of the second ministerial meeting of the Net-Zero Producers Forum, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia, reflecting its pivotal and pioneering global role in this area and its constant efforts in addressing the challenges of climate change.

The ministers praised the recommendations of the Arab Forum of Anti-Corruption Agencies and Financial Intelligence Units that was held in Riyadh last week. They underlined the Kingdom’s keenness on boosting international cooperation in combating money-laundering, all forms of corruption and terror financing.

Crown Prince Mohammed highlighted his recent visit to the Eastern Region that he said stemmed from the Saudi leadership’s keenness on meeting with citizens from all areas and following up on development projects.


Qatar Renews Commitment to Gaza Mediation, Does Not See Political Will to Reach Agreement

Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani at the opening of the Global Security Forum in Qatar, on Monday (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani at the opening of the Global Security Forum in Qatar, on Monday (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Qatar Renews Commitment to Gaza Mediation, Does Not See Political Will to Reach Agreement

Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani at the opening of the Global Security Forum in Qatar, on Monday (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani at the opening of the Global Security Forum in Qatar, on Monday (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Qatar reaffirmed on Monday that it continues to play a mediating role between Israel and Hamas to reach an agreement that leads to a ceasefire in Gaza and the exchange of prisoners.

In parallel, a senior Qatari official pointed to a lack of political will to reach a deal in light of the continuing military operations.

At the opening of the Global Security Forum in Doha on Monday, Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani stressed the adherence to mediation between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement, saying: “Our commitment to mediation to stop wars is not a political commitment, but rather a moral one.”

He added: “The war in Gaza is claiming thousands of lives, which requires international intervention to end it and bring in aid,” pointing to the expansion of the conflict and its impact on supply chains.

The Qatari Prime Minister went on to say that new, unconventional conflicts between the great powers put the international order at risk, adding that history has proven that the “cost of any occupation and its consequences are much greater than any return expected by the occupier.”

However, Mohammed Al-Khulaifi, Minister of State in the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that there is no political will to reach a ceasefire agreement in Gaza, in light of the continuation of military operations on the ground. He stressed Qatar’s continued endeavor to bring Israel and Hamas to the negotiating table.

Mediation efforts led by Qatar, Egypt and the United States faltered after an Israeli move to attack the city of Rafah. At the beginning of May, the Emir of Qatar and the Egyptian President stressed, during a phone discussion, the necessity of intensifying mediation efforts in cooperation with all regional and international partners, to end the war in the Gaza Strip and alleviate the suffering of civilians.

Addressing the conference through a video speech, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shiaa Al-Sudani said that the aggression against Gaza threatens the entire region and its peoples.

He added that Iraq will be “the first to contribute to restoring life and reconstruction to Gaza.”