Crown prince salutes ‘unprecedented’ Saudi achievements

Crown prince salutes ‘unprecedented’ Saudi achievements
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Updated 13 November 2020

Crown prince salutes ‘unprecedented’ Saudi achievements

Crown prince salutes ‘unprecedented’ Saudi achievements
  • The prince said the government has undertaken extensive restructuring to boost non-oil revenues and is working hard to diversify the economy
  • Prince Mohammed: The Kingdom is one of the best 10 countries globally in terms of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has been able to achieve unprecedented economic and social advances in a short period of time, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Thursday.

Commenting on King Salman’s address to the Shoura Council, the crown prince said that the Kingdom has experienced exponential economic growth in the past three years and he is optimistic that this will accelerate after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Non-oil revenues contributed an estimated SR 1.8 billion ($480 million) to the economy in 2016, he said. Plans were made to increase this contribution, resulting in rapid growth over the past three years, he added.

The crown prince said that authorities in the Kingdom are also working to reduce the unemployment rate as a matter of priority. He said that women account for 64 percent of the total unemployment rate, but a number of reforms have created opportunities that led to an increase in the participation of women in the workforce, from 17 percent to 31 percent in the past year alone.

Prince Mohammed said that although corruption was once rife in the country and had spread like “cancer,” a campaign to tackle this has been very successful, resulting in settlements amounting to SR 247 billion riyals in three years.

After investing more than SR 55 million in digital infrastructure in the past three years, the nation now ranks first among G20 member states in terms of digital competitiveness, and has climbed 40 places on the Digital Infrastructure Index.

During his speech, the prince praised the Public Investment Fund (PIF) for becoming one of the main engines of growth for the Saudi economy.

“We managed to double the size of the PIF from SR 560 billion to more than SR 1.3 trillion,” he said. “We have investments with returns that exceeded 70 percent, and others that exceeded 140 percent.”

He added that the PIF has created more than 190,000 jobs over the past four years.

Turning to the issues of terrorism and extremism, the crown prince said that Saudi Arabia rejects any attempt to associate Islam with terrorism and asserted that intellectual freedom is a means of respect and tolerance.

Speaking a day after a cemetery was attacked in Jeddah, and hours after a shooting at the Saudi embassy in the Netherlands, he vowed that the Kingdom will continue to strike back with an “iron fist” against those who threaten its security and stability. He also reiterated his promise to eradicate any and all forms of extremism in Saudi Arabia.

“In 2017, I pledged to eradicate extremism immediately, and we have actually launched a serious campaign to address its causes and deal with the phenomena,” he said. “Within a year, we eliminated an ideology that took 40 years to create.

“Islam criminalizes these terrorist operations, prohibits bloodshed, and forbids the deception and killing of peaceful people. We promise a deterrent, painful and very severe punishment for anyone who might wish to carry out a terrorist act and employ hate speech.

“We hope that the world will rid itself of contempt for religions and stop attacking religious and national symbols under the pretext of freedom of expression, as this will create fertile grounds for extremism and terrorism.”

Regarding the environment, he said, the amount of conservation land in the Kingdom has been increased from 4 percent to more than 14 percent, the crown prince said, and the Special Forces for Environmental Security was established.

The Ministry of Culture has established 11 organizations to develop the country’s cultural sectors, he said, which has created jobs, contributed to an increasingly thriving economy and improved the overall quality of life.

The Saudi economy is one of the largest and most important in the world, the prince said, and the government has implemented a number of reforms to improve the quality of the labor market for citizens and residents.

“With regard to the rights of expatriates, we have taken numerous measures to restructure the contractual relationship so as to preserve their rights and contribute to increasing maturity in the labor market,” he added.

“Work is underway, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, to reform the labor market and provide more jobs for citizens. One of the Vision’s goals is to reach an unemployment rate of 7 percent by the year 2030.

“The unemployment rate nearly reached 13 percent in 2018. We were able to witness a continuous decrease to 11.8 percent at the beginning of 2020, by increasing the efficiency of government agencies, the investments of the PIF and other government programs and initiatives.”

He added: “Our next goal will be improving citizens’ income.”

The government has also carried out wide-ranging restructuring processes in a number of sectors, in accordance with the goals of Vision 2030, designed to further enhance non-oil revenues.

“If we had not raised non-oil revenues to nearly SR 360 billion this year, but had maintained the same revenue as was earned in 2015 which was estimated at nearly SR100 billion, we would have been forced to reduce the salaries of public-sector employees by more than 30 percent,” the crown prince said.

“Despite cutting the cost-of-living allowance, we have succeeded in preserving citizens’ salaries, as well as most of their allowances and bonuses, maintaining a capital expenditure of SR 137 billion, increasing spending on operations and maintenance, and bearing the high costs of health care due to the pandemic, which have amounted to SR 188 billion.

“Revenue diversification is important and vital for the Kingdom’s sustainability. We are seriously working on this issue through the investments of the PIF, and by supporting new sectors such as tourism, sports, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, space, mining and much more, in addition to working with the private sector.”
 


Saudi Arabia's crown prince receives call from Qatar emir

Saudi Arabia's crown prince receives call from Qatar emir
Updated 13 April 2021

Saudi Arabia's crown prince receives call from Qatar emir

Saudi Arabia's crown prince receives call from Qatar emir

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call from the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.
During the call, Sheikh Tamim congratulated the crown prince on the advent of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Prince Mohammed also exchanged well wishes on the occasion.


Saudi Arabia confirms 8 COVID-19 deaths, 951 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 8 COVID-19 deaths, 951 new cases
Updated 13 April 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 8 COVID-19 deaths, 951 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 8 COVID-19 deaths, 951 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 608 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 389

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded eight new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 6,773.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 951 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 400,228 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 8,820 remain active and 962 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 389, followed by Makkah with 212, the Eastern Province with 144, Asir recorded 38 and Madinah confirmed 32 cases.

The ministry also announced that 608 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 361,813.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 137 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 2.95 million.


Saudia Airlines to trial IATA travel pass on flights from Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah

Saudia Airlines to trial IATA travel pass on flights from Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah
Updated 13 April 2021

Saudia Airlines to trial IATA travel pass on flights from Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah

Saudia Airlines to trial IATA travel pass on flights from Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah
  • The trial will begin on April 19 and will continue until mid May
  • It will allow travelers to create digital passports to ensure all government health requirements are met

JEDDAH: Saudia Airlines announced on Monday that it will trial the digital travel and health pass developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It will start on April 19 on the Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah route.
The pass is a mobile app that helps passengers to simply and securely manage their travel information and documents, and comply with any official precautionary requirements to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In addition to flight details and personal information, including passport data, the app can also store verified COVID-19 test results and proof of vaccination. It also includes an option to securely share required information with testing labs or airlines.
According to IATA, users need not worry about the security of their data as it remains confidential and is stored in an encrypted form locally, on the phone. If app is deleted, so is all of the user’s data that is stored in it.
The aim is to help ensure passengers have a safe and seamless travel experience, as part of the efforts to ensure a safe return to international travel and support the recovery of the aviation sector from the effects of the pandemic. During the trial and testing process, IATA will work to develop the app for use across the airline’s network.
“This is great news. I hope it gets approved and applied to all international flights,” Abdullah Al-Muhsin, form Riyadh, told Arab News.
“As a vaccinated individual, this will make it much easier for me to prove my immunity. This step … invites people to get vaccinated and also ensures health requirements are met.”
Turki Khalaf, also from Riyadh, told Arab News: “Anything that would make life easier and reduces costs is good.
“I hope that the next step is our travel pass becomes vital too, and we become free of the anxiety every time we go to the airport, fearing that little note might get lost, stolen or damaged.”
The trial will continue until May 17. Travelers are encouraged to use the app but it is not a requirement. During the trial period passengers must still carry traditional documentation, printed or in digital form, that shows the result of a PCR test by an authorized clinic, as immigration and health authorities might require it. In addition, the travel pass does not replace existing travel or entry requirements in Saudi Arabia, including possession of a valid passport and visa, if applicable. Visit www.saudia.com/travel-pass for more information.


Saudi female elected first president of Digital Cooperation Organization

Saudi female elected first president of Digital Cooperation Organization
KSA’s Deema Alyahya is the first secretary-general of DCO. (SPA)
Updated 13 April 2021

Saudi female elected first president of Digital Cooperation Organization

Saudi female elected first president of Digital Cooperation Organization
  • It is estimated that by 2025 the global digital economy will be worth $23 trillion with a GDP share of 24.3 percent

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia was elected president of the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) and Saudi national Deemah Alyahya was appointed the first secretary-general of the organization during its first meeting on Monday.
The organization also approved the accession of Nigeria and Oman to the organization as founding members.
The first five members of DCO included Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan.
The seven member states constitute an economic bloc worth $2 trillion of the global gross domestic product.
The first meeting was chaired by Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha. Houlin Zhao, secretary-general of the International Communication Union, GCC Secretary-General Dr. Nayef Al-Hajraf, World Economic Forum President Borge Brende and representatives of different UN programs also attended the meeting.
The meeting approved several initiatives including establishment of a center to boost coordination on transfer of data, women’s empowerment and promotion of small and medium enterprises with a focus on digital transformation.
The DCO aims to strengthen collaboration among member nations as they adapt to a global economy increasingly defined by technological innovation.
Through this initiative, the member states could establish solid cooperation in the emerging fields of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, IoT, big data, 5G, cloud computing, and blockchain.
It is estimated that by 2025 the global digital economy will be worth $23 trillion with a GDP share of 24.3 percent. This provides the DCO with a great opportunity to build a platform for their tech-savvy youth, women, entrepreneurs, and indigenous industry to flourish and compete with their global contemporaries and boost their digital competitiveness.
In addition, member states can harness their expertise and share experience to strengthen efforts for preparing for global crises such as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.


Madinah to get family medicine academy

Madinah to get family medicine academy
Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 13 April 2021

Madinah to get family medicine academy

Madinah to get family medicine academy
  • Top quality healthcare forms an important part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program

MADINAH: Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman on Monday oversaw the signing ceremony of an agreement between the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties and the Madinah Health Community for the establishment of the Academy of Postgraduate Studies for Family Medicine.
The academy aims to expand the specialization program in family medicine in line with the goals of the government to modernize the healthcare system in the Kingdom and to ensure the best facilities for citizens.
Top quality healthcare forms an important part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program.
The academy will ensure the quality of the program by forging a partnership with the Irish College of General Practitioners.
Initially 40 seats will be available at the academy. The capacity will be increases by 25 percent annually to reach 80 per year.
The academy will follow strict criteria for the evaluation of its doctors in coordination with local and international partners and take measures to boost the skills of the academy’s graduates as per the international standards.