Khashoggi's case painful: Saudi Crown Prince

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH
– Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, affirmed that the case of citizen Jamal Khashoggi is very painful for all Saudis in particular, and for every human being in the world.

“This incident is completely heinous and unjustified. Today, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is taking all legal measures to probe and complete all investigations, in cooperation with the Turkish government, in order to reach findings and bring all culprits to justice to receive deterrent punishment. This measure is what any government should do in such cases. The cooperation between the Saudi and Turkish governments is distinct,” the Crown Prince said.

He made the remarks while attending a panel discussion titled “How visionary leadership will transform the Arab world into a global economic powerhouse” at Future Investment Initiative (FII) 2018 together with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Al-Hariri.

President of Senegal Macky Sall; President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon; UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia Demeke Mekonnen, and a number of princes, ministers, senior officials of a number of states and heads of the investment companies from around the world were also present at the session.

The Crown Prince said: “We know that many are trying to exploit this painful situation to drive a wedge between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. I want to send a message to them from this platform that they will not be able to do so as long as King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and President Erdogan are in office. Such rift will not happen and we will prove to the world that the two governments are cooperating to punish any criminal and culprit and justice will prevail.”

The Crown Prince stated that the Kingdom has made great strides in developing the Saudi economy over the last three years as well as to secure the governance and restructure of many sectors, affirming “I think that time has come to restructure the sectors of the national security in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in line with the economic sectors’ growth.”

In response to a question about the exerted reform efforts and the question of the seriousness of the Kingdom in carrying out required economic and social reforms, the Crown Prince said: “The numbers are talking and changing every day for the better. When we look at figures in the last two or three years, for example, non-oil revenues are almost tripled, and we find that the current budget is the largest budget, in the history of Saudi Arabia.”

He revealed that the budget for next year will for the first time exceed SR1 trillion mark, pointing out that the allocation for salaries, in Saudi Arabia’s budget was almost making 50 percent of it, however they are expected to decrease to 45 percent, next year, given salary increases as well as increase in employment ratio. It was indeed a very big challenge to keep the ratio lowered, while the budget and staffing doubled.

“We believe that the unemployment figures will improve next year until we reach 2030.

The size of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), for example, was three years standing at $150 billion and this year reached $300 billion, the Crown Prince, who is also chairman of the board of PIF, said.

“The $400 billion target in 2020, may be reached by the public investments, at the beginning of 2019. In 2020, we may reach $500 billion or $600 billion, up to $2 trillion or more in 2030.

Our position in global competitiveness improved, he stressed, and pointed out that “the figures show where we were and where we are today, and the figures next year will explain this”.

On the future of the Middle East, the Crown Prince said that there are outstanding projects in the Middle East. “If we look at the Middle East after the founding of the United Nations, its situation has always been difficult. Countries that work well rely on natural resources, but a man came in the 1990s and showed us a model and made us all convinced in the Middle East and we can offer more, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who presented a model in Dubai and made all the Middle East convinced that we can offer, not just as a Dubai but even more a lot”, he commented.

“We want to compete to raise the ambition, also in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and we want everyone to raise the ambition. We can see that Abu Dhabi has moved very strongly in successive fast achievements, in the whole UAE.”

“Since Bahraini Crown Prince came to office in 1999, Bahrain has achieved great and huge achievements. This is nothing about what will happen in the next five years in Bahrain. Today, Kuwait has a Vision 2035 and it has a wonderful people and has very large financial resources. With great ease, it will be able to achieve huge achievements,” the Crown Prince said.

Last year, the Egyptian economy achieved a growth about 5 percent or more. This year, more than 5 percent of unemployment rates are falling very rapidly in Egypt. The construction of housing units and infrastructure projects are increasing in a way I hardly believe in Egypt. I visit some sites in Egypt. I find that all officials are crying as they work on the ground in order to restore great Egypt, the strong Egypt.

However, they believe that they are not yet started in spite of everything they have achieved in the last two years. We can see a strong and very impressive work led by the Prime Minister of Lebanon to restore Lebanon and its forefront position and starting from that point. I am sure that the efforts of our brothers in Lebanon will succeed under the leadership of the Lebanese Prime Minister and leaders. Jordan has very great and ambitious projects. We participate in some of these projects. Oman has major projects and is trying to move Oman to another stage in addition to its work in the past years with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“I think that the Middle East will turn into a new Europe,” the Crown Prince predicted. Saudi Arabia will be quite different in the next five years. Bahrain will be quite different; also Kuwait and Qatar, with which we are at odds, have a strong economy and will be completely different after five years. And come in the row the UAE, Oman, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. If we succeed in the next five years, more countries will join us. In the next 30 years, the Middle East will make history, God willing.


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