King: Stability, jobs top priority

Updated 12 March 2015
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King: Stability, jobs top priority

Saudi Arabia is trying to minimize the impact of plunging oil prices on its economy, said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Tuesday while emphasizing his government’s plan to develop a more diversified economy.
“The low prices witnessed by the oil market are having an effect on the Kingdom’s income. However, we are working toward minimizing the impact on development," the king said in his first major speech since acceding to the throne on Jan. 23.
King Salman told government officials and other dignitaries that the search for new deposits of oil, gas and other natural resources in the Kingdom would continue. “High petrol prices during the past few years have had a positive effect on the national economy and in the development of projects,” the king said.
But the plunge in oil prices has emphasized the need for economic alternatives, and King Salman said the Kingdom's future economy "will be based on a number of foundations," with a growing number of small and medium enterprises.
“The next few years will be full of important accomplishments aimed at emphasizing the role of the industry and the service sectors in the national economy.”
King Salman emphasized that he would work for ensuring justice for all citizens and give them opportunities to realize their dreams and aspirations.
“I am deeply concerned about every citizen in the country and every part of our beloved nation and all of tem will receive my care and support. There will not be any discrimination between citizens and regions,” he told senior princes, ministers, governors, Shoura members, top military commanders, the grand mufti, Islamic scholars, top editors and other dignitaries at his palace in Riyadh.
King Salman urged Saudis to stand united. “I would like to reaffirm my desire to challenge the causes of differences and reasons of division and end social classifications that hurt national unity. All citizens are equal in rights and duties,” he said.
King Salman stressed the role of media in enabling the public to express their opinion, and spreading facts without causing division and conflicts in society. “The media should be a means for strengthening national unity and boosting development.”
He said Saudi Arabia would continue its efforts to achieve comprehensive, integrated and balanced development for all regions. “Ever since the Kingdom’s founder, the government has been making continuous efforts for development and modernization, without deviating from religious principles and social values while protecting the rights of all citizens.”
He said he had instructed the Council for Political and Security Affairs and the Council for Economic and Development Affairs to double their efforts to boost citizens’ prosperity. “We’ll not accept any leniency in this matter,” he added.
King Salman told all ministers and government officials that they have been appointed in their positions to serve citizens. “We have instructed that systems of monitoring agencies must be reviewed to strengthen their efficiency and performance in order to fight corruption, protect public wealth and punish culprits.”
The king reminded citizens of their great responsibility in safeguarding the country’s security and stability and urged them to stand united with the leadership and government against the country’s spiteful enemies.
He praised the Kingdom’s security forces for their efforts to foil many terrorist operations that targeted the nation, its citizens and vital installations. “I would like to inform all citizens and residents in this country that security is the responsibility of all and we’ll not allow anybody to tamper with our security and stability.”
King Salman said the government would support small and medium enterprises to achieve substantial growth and serve as a strong economic base for a large group of citizens.
Referring to the service sector, he said the government would adopt effective steps to improve health services to citizens all over the Kingdom. “Health centers as well as referral and specialized hospitals will be made accessible to all.”
Speaking about housing problem, the king said the government would find quick and practical solutions for all citizens to have suitable homes. He emphasized the need to integrate general and higher education and provide advanced infrastructure facilities for educational institutions. “Graduates of these institutions must meet the country’s development and job market requirements.”
King Salman reiterated the government’s efforts to provide higher education to Saudis by enabling them to study at reputable institutions inside and outside Saudi Arabia. “The nation has lots of expectations from you and you have to concentrate on gaining the best education,” the king told students.
Describing students as an investment for the nation’s future, he said the government would continue its efforts to provide them with suitable jobs to have a decent living. “It’s joint responsibility of public and private sectors to provide employment opportunities for citizens,” he added.
Addressing businessmen and businesswomen, the king said: “You are partners in progress and the state supports the private sector to enhance its contribution to the national economy. We have provided a lot of facilities and special rights for you and the state expects from you a lot. You have to come up with initiatives for job creation and social and economic services.”
King Salman instructed regional governors to receive citizens and listen to their problems and proposals for the nation’s progress and take steps to enhance their welfare and comfort.
He highlighted King Abdul Aziz’s efforts to unify the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and establish a modern state on the basis of Shariah. “By the grace of God, your country is going ahead on the path of progress and growth, making solid steps, while adhering to the teachings of Shariah and preserving our culture and traditions.”
King Salman also spoke about the government’s efforts to enhance services for pilgrims who come for Haj and Umrah. “Since the time of its establishment, Saudi Arabia has been exerting all possible efforts in the service of Islam and to realize the hopes and aspirations of Muslims all over the world.” He said Saudi Arabia considered its services for the two holy mosques as an honor.
He also addressed the Kingdom’s armed and security forces and said the government would continue its efforts to strengthen their capabilities to defend the country’s security and stability.
“Our foreign policy is based on the teachings of Islam that calls for affection and peace as well as international charters and agreements...We reject interference in our internal affairs and we defend Arab and Islamic causes.”
He said Saudi Arabia has emphasized the right of the Palestinians to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. “We’ll continue our efforts to achieve Arab and Islamic unity and solidarity to improve relations and confront challenges. We’ll also work for global peace and stability.”
The king emphasized the Kingdom’s policy of settling differences through dialogue and peaceful means. He also referred to the Kingdom’s endeavors to fight terrorism and extremism in cooperation with the international community. Saudi Arabia will support efforts to protect environment and achieve sustainable development, he added.
The king began his speech by saying: “I have the pleasure to address you with a heart full of love and sincerity looking forward to a bright future for the country.” He concluded his speech by seeking God’s help to fulfill his responsibilities in the best manner.


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.