JEDDAH — The far-sighted vision and wise policies of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has turned Saudi Arabia into a global destination for leaders of the world, decision-makers and businessmen from different quarters of the globe.
The visits of these high-level figures show their confidence in King Salman’s wisdom and vision as a skillful and experienced leader. These leaders look forward to an important role for a country occupying the most important strategic location on the world map.
On Sunday, the Kingdom is celebrating the completion of two years of King Salman’s ascension to the throne and the oath of allegiance.
King Salman, who took over the reins of the Kingdom after the demise of King Abdullah on Jan. 23, 2015, has adopted a proactive and effective stand against terrorism and its perpetrators and supporters. Their doings, of course, are contrary to the teachings of our Islamic religion and genuine values.
These values necessitate that the Kingdom stand firmly against extremist ideology, blatant intervention in the affairs of other countries and infringement on the stability, security and development of all people.
In this context, the Kingdom knitted a 40-nation military alliance of Islamic countries against terrorism. Oman, the only country in the region not joining the alliance initially, signaled its readiness to fall in line with the rest of the Islamic world this week.
The decision is also the fruit of the sagacious and prudent stand of the Kingdom under the leadership of King Salman who has always stood for unity among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states. Analysts believe that Oman’s decision will certainly go a long way in formulating a united regional policy of combating the scourge of terrorism in all its manifestations and forms.
King Salman also led the establishment of an Arab coalition that has confronted Iranian-backed Houthi militias and forces in Yemen allied to deposed leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, in a bid to put the government of internationally-recognized President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi back in power.
Women in Shoura
Continuing the pace of reforms set by his predecessor, on Dec. 4, King Salman nominated 20 new women members to the Shoura (Consultative) Council.
Ten women members retained their posts out of 30 women appointed by the late King Abdullah to the Council for the first time in royal decrees issued in January 2013.
The historic decrees gave women a 20 percent quota in the Council, a body appointed by the King to advise him on policies and legislation.
In April, “Vision 2030” was adopted as a methodology and roadmap for economic and developmental action in the Kingdom. In its aim to grant the Kingdom a leading position in all fields, “Vision 2030” sought to identify the general directions, policies, goals and objectives of the Kingdom.
Accordingly, some ministries, institutions, and government entities have been restructured. Ultimately, this will enhance the level and quality of services provided to beneficiaries and achieve a prosperous future and sustainable development. The Council of Ministers has tasked the Council of Economic and Development Affairs with establishing and monitoring the mechanisms and measures necessary for the implementation of “Vision 2030”.
The Vision is built around three themes: A vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation. This first theme is vital to achieving the Vision and a strong foundation for economic prosperity. In the second theme, a thriving economy provides opportunities for all by building an education system aligned with market needs and creating economic opportunities for the entrepreneur, the small enterprise as well as the large corporation.
The third theme is built on an effective, transparent, accountable, enabling and high-performing government. In each of these themes, a selection of commitments and goals has been highlighted.
In order to build the institutional capacity and capabilities needed to achieve the ambitious goals of “Vision 2030”, the National Transformation Program 2020 was launched across 24 government bodies operating in the economic and development sectors in its first year.
It is notable that the program’s strategic objectives are linked to interim targets for the year 2020. Furthermore, the first phase of initiative implementation was launched in 2016 and will be followed every year by phases involving more public bodies.
The program uses innovative methods to identify challenges, seize opportunities, adopt effective planning tools, activate the role of the private sector, bring about implementation and evaluate performances. It has also determined the interim targets for some of the Vision’s strategic objectives to ensure the establishment of a solid foundation for government action and the continuity of innovative planning, implementation and follow-up methods at the national level.
Approving the budget for the fiscal year 2017, King Salman underlined the need to ensure that it is implemented very carefully in a way that achieves comprehensive and balanced development and improves the services being extended to citizens.
King Salman noted that the unveiling of the budget comes at a time when most countries are suffering from extremely volatile economic situations that have led to slow pace of global economic growth and drop in oil prices. “Despite its impact, our nation is dealing with these fluctuations so as not to affect the goals that we aspire to achieve,” the King said.
King Salman noted that the Saudi economy possesses sufficient strength to cope with the current economic and financial challenges, thanks to the prudent fiscal policies pursued by the state. “We are determined to strengthen the components of our national economy and accordingly we have adopted the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and its executive programs in line with a comprehensive reform vision that will take the Kingdom to much broader and comprehensive horizons so that it can meet its challenges and further strengthen its position in the global economy.
Although the budget includes some tough decisions which neither nationals nor expatriates living in the Kingdom are used to nor may find easy, the good news is that the budget, and the government’s budget-balancing objectives that it aims to achieve by 2020, assume only the worst-case scenario. Things will be rosier if positive factors come to pass, such as the imminent oil output deal and the eagerly-anticipated Saudi Aramco initial public offering.