King Abdullah interview with Al-Siyassah

July 1, 2008

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz interview with Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassah, published July 1, 2008

QUESTION: At the outset, let me ask you how the Jeddah conference had worked, which finally gathered representatives of the producers and consumers of oil. During the Conference, you had delivered a transparent speech that identified clearly shortcomings that led to the continuing rise in oil prices?

THE CUSTODIAN OF THE TWO HOLY MOSQUES: During this conference, we have made our position clear that opposes a constant rise in oil prices. We reaffirmed that the Kingdom's policy ever since the establishment of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is based on the adoption of fair price of oil which neither harm producers nor consumers, for the sake of the interests of the world as will as our own national interests.

We are not responsible for the significant rise in present oil prices. The problem lies in other factors which we constantly mention such as speculators who manipulate the market for their own interests; consumption increase in a number of promising economies, and increasing taxes on oil in a number of consumer countries, the latter ought to reduce taxes on oil if they really have a feeling to contribute to easing the burden on consumers.

But despite these factors I have mentioned, and despite the commitment of OPEC to meet the growing demand for oil and not to impose specific pricing long ago, leaving it to the market, but there are still some who point fingers toward OPEC alone, and this requires the producers and consumers to jointly reveal the real reasons behind rising prices to deal with it in full clarity and transparency, so the innocent ones are not held responsible for the crime of the manipulators. The one who alleged that increased production would lighten the burden of speculation in the market is mistaken because there are many views among these speculators to have a belief that oil prices will remain high. In fact, theses views are not our concern as producing countries. We offer our product at the international market in accordance with the prevailing prices whether high or low.

I came to know that there is a trend in several consuming countries to ease the speculations at the market, but as I said it is not our concern, the world has been witnessing a great growth and the oil constitutes the nerve of this growth and there is more demand for it.

Earlier, when OPEC was determining the price of oil, the consuming countries opposed that and called for making the prices subject to the principle of supply and demand, and OPEC positively responded to that, but now some quarters are holding OPEC responsible for the increase in prices, which is not fair.

In the light of the reports of experts, I can say this current price is cheaper compared with the price of other energy alternatives which are increasing due to hike in demand or due to the cost of their production or due to the increase of economic growth rates in the world.

The reports of the experts say that with the increase of growth rates, demand for oil will increase in its capacity as the nerve of the life, thanks to Allah Almighty; our region enjoys great oil reserves which will meet the demand in the future, and that is the most important.

Yes, some may differ with us in our points of view, but we are not concerned with that. We were and are still frank and transparent in our views for the control of this world market, and we hope that others will find the means that ease burdens of this vital energy.

In this respect, taking into account the importance of international cooperation in the energy affairs and importance of assisting the poor nations which suffer from the increase of oil prices, I had announced at Jeddah conference the initiative of energy for the poor so as to enable the developing countries confront the increasing cost of energy, and I had also called on the Ministerial Council of OPEC's Fund for the international development to review the possibility of approving a parallel program to the energy program for the poor on a constant basis, and to allocate an amount of $1 billion for this program.

In the end, I think that with the joint efforts of departments and major economic institutions in the developed world, we will overcome many of the crises in this regard. Moreover, the consuming countries should adapt to the price of market and deal with it in fair and logical ways.

QUESTION: The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, mega development projects in the Kingdom have become the talk of international economic circles. Where is this march heading to?

THE CUSTODIAN OF THE TWO HOLY MOSQUES: With plenty of financial efficiency that Allah Almighty bestowed upon the Kingdom, we have to win the time even if it requires us to jump the time barrier and increased spending on the costly and promising projects that are meant for the benefits of the people of the Kingdom and for the future generations. We desire for the Saudi people to cherish the current manifestations of growth in their country, and preserve these projects for the joy and delight of the future generations.

Brother Ahmed, I agree that the wheel of the growth in the Kingdom is rapid, but it is deliberately opted for such a pace. Our goal always has been to see our citizens talk about the abundance in grace and bounties Allah bestowed upon this country. Surely, Allah graces this country of the Two Holy Mosques with abundant bounties. In the meantime, we are concerned with the Saudi peoples' interaction with this growth pace, and to make them become an active hand behind it and become its guardian. However, the physical and economic growth becomes an illusion unless assisted with human and intellectual growth.

Thanks Almighty Allah, there are many opportunities available and future visions are clear to us; mistakes occur sometimes, and it is the mistakes of the workers; the one who works is the one who make mistakes, but everything is under control and goes ahead as planned, and there are ways to deal with any error, if at all there is one.

Today, there are affluences in industry; there are operational industrial and economic cities, and still others are under construction. We extend great encouragement to growth, and everyone works hard and reaps the fruits of his work. The goal is one which is to revive Saudi Arabia in all fields. And the most important thing of all is to work. Opportunities become a mirage if not responded with action to exploit them.

I would like to ensure that the problem of increase in prices of some food materials which is faced by the entire world has its impact on the Kingdom. There are suitable solutions provided by the officials of the country through the country's money, notably for the basic food materials. Moreover, there are plans for controlling inflation which some people speak about it through exploiting the finance availability being enjoyed by the Kingdom in its proper place and which is earlier determined, taking into account the welfare of the Saudi citizens and preservation of their savings.

QUESTION: In the light of the finance availability in the GCC states, do you feel comfortable about the existing economic cooperation among the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)?

THE CUSTODIAN OF THE TWO HOLY MOSQUES:  Our brothers in the GCC states describe us the grand sister, and this will make us in the Kingdom keen on shouldering our role as regards further cementing cooperation among our states. Economic cooperation exists among the six member states, but we always work to accelerate and improve this cooperation, and we are looking forward to the day in which the dream of our nations in economic ties will be realized and yield fruitful results.

The entire region enjoys finance availability, and some are dealing with that with a good economic trend that serves the future of the new generations. And we, in the Kingdom, as I said, growth here goes ahead quickly in terms of its performance, and we like that so as to enable our nation enjoy progress and prosperity in various domains, and spare for the new generation what it has planted.

Thanks to Allah Almighty, the Kingdom is not in need of any money from the surplus in the Gulf States. On the contrary, Saudi Arabia elevates and not erodes the prosperity of its brothers. What we, in reality, desire is that all of us become aware of any danger that circulates around us.

Some speak about the march of the political work, and I think if justice prevails, then the rule will be proper and comfortable for the people, notably you are in front of peculiarity of your nation which should be taken into account. The power does not mean you terrify people, but it really means justice and fairness, and we pray to Allah Almighty to enable us to manage the affairs of our country in line with this. The people as I said have shown cohesion with their leadership as they sense the prevalence of security and justice, and absurdity will disappear because it does not benefit people.

QUESTION: What are future political visions for the nations of this region in the light of the availability of finance they are enjoying now?

THE CUSTODIAN OF THE TWO HOLY MOSQUES: The Gulf nations and the Kingdom in particular do not like the recurrence of the disaster earlier faced by Kuwait, and we will never allow the owners of the sectarian visions to propagate their evil designs among the nations of the region which dislike such detestable view and realize its danger.

With the grace of Allah Almighty these nations will stand against those who don't like good for the region and its nations through instigating sectarian feelings or raising other similar matters which are strange to our societies. I think we are on our way of defeating such views and visions which are not straight.

The availability of finance bestowed on us by Allah Almighty can be exploited for confronting any difficulties, calls or ideologies which are not straight. As I said justice among the people is the march we proceed ahead on it and adhere to it, and that will enables us to abort any futile ideologies from its very start. Nonsensical and meaningless discussions will disappear and will never stay on the earth.

We were so much hurt when the State of Kuwait was invaded in 1990. We didn’t rest until Kuwait was returned to its rightful people and recovered their land. We do not want any country in the GCC to be exposed to such a disaster. It was the course we had chosen to walk over since the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Thus, we want to keep our brothers in the GCC away from such disasters that had befallen on Kuwait, which at that time came from Iraq. We do not want it to come from any other country in the present time.

Whatever, we are facing now, need us to fortify necessarily ourselves namely from those who do not want any good for this region. We should fully be aware of these risks before they occur.

As you know, our relations with the GCC countries without exception is at its best. We feel happy when we reject any differences or difference of opinion between one country and another. We feel more comfortable when some differences or disagreement in views between us and a member of GCC are over and are replaced with good relationship. We consider any issue as under discussion with our brothers and treat it as merely a difference in viewpoints not as disagreement that leads to rift.

On many of the occasions, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had been flexible in dealing with any emerging differences for which we do not even resent. Instead, we accept such a matter as long as the language of advice is prevalent among our nations and this kind of language remains the dominant, accepted and understood language among us to stave off any evil or danger we might face, especially given the fact that the people of the Region have common social status which will make it necessary for us as Big sister (Saudi Arabia) to take in our shoulder to enhance synergy with each other, whether economically, socially or culturally.

QUESTION: The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, I hear as a frequent visitor to Saudi Arabia, the talk of your people is about your future vision which aims at social reforms in harmony with modern standards.

THE CUSTODIAN OF THE TWO HOLY MOSQUES:  Social progress which does not emerge from peculiarities of nations, it is worthless. Therefore, we are involved in this progress, but in consistence with traditions, customs and the inherited values of the Saudi citizens and the first and the foremost; our Islamic faith which we follow is the one which guide us. The Islamic faith is for the welfare of our lives and for our belief. Let us promote it in the finest manner and apply it with modesty that Allah has ordained us to do in the Holy Quran.

QUESTION: What do you, the ruler of the grand sister, expect from the nations and states of the region and from your good nation?

THE CUSTODIAN OF THE TWO HOLY MOSQUES:  The Kingdom, with the grace of Allah Almighty, will remain the grand sister of the GCC member states, and it will continue to work to further enhance the relations of the nations of the region for their constant progress and prosperity, and it will tirelessly work to fortify its nations and brothers from any interventions or political propaganda which is far away from their peculiarities and vision that focus on their security and stability.

I do feel happy for the heartfelt feelings voiced by our loyal people on all occasions. This cohesion between the ruler and the people in the Kingdom is not a new matter, it was ever since the birth of the Saudi state, and I pray to Almighty Allah to enable me to shoulder my mission as regards the service of the land of message and its loyal people which I pledged when I ascended to the throne and in all my addresses to work for their happiness, welfare, security and safety.

The Kingdom, thanks to Allah Almighty, enjoys stability due to the existing cooperation between the sons of our nation and the security organs.

This cooperation was effective in pursuing the deviated groups and foiling their terror plots. The last operation which was aborted by the security men provides a clear evidence that our country is fortified. This development came after about three years of the terror acts earlier witnessed by the Kingdom. This long period between each operation and the other emphasizes that the deviant groups are shrinking after being confronted by all Saudi people with cooperation with the security men.

I would like to certify, Brother Ahmad that the region with the grace of Allah Almighty rejects the 'takfiri' (ruling with infidelity) ideologies or any endeavor to create sectarian sedition which will soon disappear, and Almighty Allah will protect his message.

QUESTION: The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the people of Lebanon consider you as a rescuer from what they have suffered from. Shall we reassure the Lebanese people that they are safe in their homeland?

THE CUSTODIAN OF THE TWO HOLY MOSQUES:  Surely, a good act and ideology will prevail when those who desire evil for Lebanon and the region leave (the country). The time of their departure is about to come. I swear to Allah Almighty that the good act cannot face defeat against an evil act, even if the aspects of this evil had become clear for some time. Lebanon is on its way to enjoy what good people wished for it. Whoever wanted evil for Lebanon will be defeated. We do not want anything for Lebanon and its people except a harmonious life in independence and in stability. We do not want Lebanon to be an arena for conflict for the elderly nor an outlet for the frivolity of those who do not want this region to enjoy peace and security nor desire their march ahead with its economic growth and its political movements in this region, which is known as a region of peace and a place of messages.

QUESTION: The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, What are your visions for the upcoming days?

THE CUSTODIAN OF THE TWO HOLY MOSQUES:  We are trying to shorten time. Time does not have mercy. We want our acts to precede our pens. We will be the happiest people when we see what we have promised is accomplished. Allah Almighty knows how happy I was when I opened those mega projects in the eastern region. They are productive projects, including chemical plants and vast industries. These projects will join the current projects to become complementary and bring about high profit returns for the state and the Saudi citizen.

Last year witnessed the achievement of one of our dreams in the Kingdom which was the opening of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology from which scientists will graduate in different technical, medical and humanitarian fields.

Finally, I would like to reassure everyone that our visions for the future is surrounded by an advanced thought that aims at taking advantage of cash surpluses and utilizing them in a proper way that ensures happiness to our people and prosperity as well as stability of our country which was blessed by Allah Almighty to take care of the Two Holy Mosques. The Holy Mosque is protected by Allah Almighty.