In a key address, King Fahd recalled that the first five-year session was a continuation to the shura approach applied by all three reigns of the 250-year old Saudi state including the current more-than-70-year old state since its unification by the late King Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud. Since that time, the Saudi state has been based on the principles of consultation whose shura councils were based for their part on adherence to Islamic instructions, commitment to the sources of Islamic legislation and observance of national interests of the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The King added that this “link was enhanced by the policy of the open door, application of justice for all and providing equal chances for everybody.”
King Fahd recalled that the first shura council in the current Saudi state was established by the late King Abdul Aziz 72 years ago. But “due to positive developments witnessed by the country over the past several years in all fields, we had to issue a new act for the shura council” to assure that it could fulfill its national duties as required, he said, adding that the measures included the expansion of the size of the council. “The requirements of wide-scale development process necessitated the amendment of article 3 of the shura council act to increase the number of its members to 90” he told the congress.
The King praised the accomplishments of the shura council during the just-concluded year, saying that “its deliberations and decisions have enabled the government to take several decisions for the benefit of the people and the nation.” The King said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, thanks to Almighty Allah, enjoys security and economic and social prosperity. “Based on this approach, the government has issued the Basic Rule Act, Council of Ministers Act, Shura Council Act and Regions Act,” he said.
The King said that “this annual meeting, basically designed to review the general domestic and foreign policy and cast light on major developments affecting our march, would also provide an opportunity to re-read the lesson of shura prescribed by Islam.”
Emanating from its keenness to proceed with sustained development and thanks to its balanced policy, the government was able to avoid economic and social collapse similar to what happened in some countries, the king said. Despite slowness that affected the economy due to some regional and international circumstances and fluctuation of oil prices, the wheel of development never ceased turning, the King said, adding that the government was continuing its giant economic and social projects covering all fields.
In the field of security, the government has provided security to citizens, foreign residents, visitors and religious worshippers. To secure and preserve this achievement, the government has strenuously developed the country's national armed forces to defend the land, achievements and people.
In the field of food security, the government has provided generous subsidies to peasants. The production of the strategic commodity of wheat increased to more than 4 million tons in 1991 from 26,000 tons in 1969 to satisfy the country's needs. Saudi Arabia's production of other agricultural crops including vegetables, fruits, meat and poultry has also witnessed considerable increase.
In the field of water desalination, a key strategic goal, the government expanded the capacity of water desalination stations from 4.6 million gallons per day in 1969, when the first five-year economic plan was commenced, to 520 million gallons per day last year.
In the field of industry, the invested capital in conversional industry increased in both the public and private sectors from 2.7 billion Saudi riyals in 1969 to 164.675 billion Saudi riyals while the number of factories increased from 199 to more than 2,538 during the same period. The production of chemical fertilizers increased in the same period from 24.4 thousands tons in 1969 to more than 4.2 million tons last year. Cement production increased at an annual average growth of 3.15 percent from 667 thousands tons to 15.5 million tons during the above-mentioned period. The total number of loans granted to finance industrial projects increased from SR 35 million in 1969 to SR 20 billion last year.
Proven oil reserves increased from 170 billion barrels in 1987 to 261 billion barrels in 1991, nearly double what was discovered 20 years ago. Production from natural gas accompanying the production of petroleum increased from 6.20 billion cu. m. in 1969 to 50.6 billion cu. m. in 1978 to drop to 3.37 billion cu. m. in 1989 due to a decrease in the production of oil. Only 11 percent of natural gas was effectively used in 1969 to increase to 94 percent in 1981 after it has been burnt or re-injected in the bottom of the ground in the past.
In addition to oil and natural gas, the Kingdom possesses big quantities of several minerals including gold, silver, copper zinc, lead, ore, boxite, raw aluminum, uranium, phosphates, coal and magnesium as well as primary materials for the building industry.
The output capacity of electric power increased from 418 megawatts in 1969 to 23,204 megawatts last year, increasing at an annual average rate of 16.5 percent. Meanwhile the number of operating telephones increased from 29,400 in 1969 to 1.9 million.
The length of paved roads increased from about 8000 kilometers in 1969 to more than 44,100 kilometers last year, linking the country’s cities and towns and most of its villages.
More than 800,000 residential units were established with the assistance of governmental or semi governmental funds over the past two decades, providing modern comfortable home for citizens.
Saudi donor organizations have provided a total of more than SR 273 billion to individual and corporate bodies beneficiaries by the end of the last fiscal year. Meanwhile, the government's direct or indirect subsidies to individuals and organizations to finance agricultural or industrial projects amounted to more than SR 12 in 1984. The social insurance subsidies have also witnessed considerable increase over the past years.
The number of schools and colleges for boys and girls increased nearly seven fold, from 3,283 in 1969 to 22,301 last year. The rate of increase of girls schools was 12.4 percent against 5.3 percent for boys, while the number of students of both sexes increased from 547,000 in 1969 to more than 4.5 million last year. In addition, the number of students at vocational education institutes increased from 840 in 1969 to 28,420 last year.
The youth welfare has provided subsidies worth SR 360 million to support youth and cultural clubs activities over the last two decades.
The number of governmental and private hospitals increased from 74 in 1969 to 285 last year while the number of dispensaries increased from 591 to 3300 in the same period. Meanwhile, the number of doctors in the Kingdom increased from 1,172 to 30,306, an average annual increase of 14.6 percent.
The King said that “this moment cannot provide room to mention even a few of the achievements of several other governmental bodies like the National Guard, Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, the Municipality Authority, Ministry of Defense and Aviation, Youth Welfare, Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Propagation and Guidance, Ministries of Planning, Finance and National Economy, Information, Commerce and other departments.
King Fahd praised the performance of the regions’ councils which he said were designed to serve as additional channels of contact, participation and transfer of opinion, remarks and proposals for further benefit of citizens and nation. In this connection, he also commended the “gradual and quiet” integration in the fields of security and economy among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states in addition to coordination in political, cultural and social matters. He affirmed that the GCC has been taking the right direction since its inception.
Turning to foreign policy, King Fahd said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, since the days of its founder the late King Abdul Aziz, was a peace loving and secure country. The Kingdom was and will continue to be an advocate of Arab and Islamic issues and supporter of stability and security in the region and the world. He said “our policy was based on solidarity with sister countries and cooperation with friends in a way that secures mutual benefit.”
In regard to the Palestinian issue, King Fahd said that the Kingdom was supporting the search for peace in general and supports the establishment of a national Palestinian rule, liberation of Jerusalem (al-Quds). “We accept what the Palestinians accept and reject what they don't accept,” he stated. King Fahd said that Saudi Arabia regrets the suspension of peace endeavors in the Middle East, particularly to restore the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including Jerusalem and the resolution of the Palestinian problem, the liberation of the Golan Heights and south Lebanon and Palestinian territories. He urged the international community to exert more effort to support the peace loving Arab and Palestinian peoples to restore their rights from the aggressor.
King Fahd also expressed deep regret for continuing internal conflict in Afghanistan and Somalia. He urged the parties concerned to spare blood, stop fighting and resolve their disputes peacefully. He recalled that the Kingdom has provided what it could to support the Muslim people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Kingdom supports the good efforts being exerted by the GCC, Arab League, Organization of Islamic Conference and United Nations to secure the implementation of world community resolutions, rejection of terrorism and what could serve international justice, peace and realize security, prosperity and stability for the entire world, he concluded.
For his part, regarding the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura), Sheikh Mohammed Ibrahim bin Jubeir praised the increase of the number of Shura Council to 90 and described the measure as positive. Reviewing the accomplishments of the Shura Council which concluded five years of its recent life, Sheikh bin Jubeir said that the Council was able to expand the area of its interest due to its increasing size. Sundays and Mondays of every week were allotted for the Council's sessions, while the specialized committees convene on Saturdays, leaving Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the meetings of the Council's full membership and specialized committees, he said.
Referring to exchange of visits between the Shura Council chairman and members and counterparts in foreign councils, he said the foreign world was demonstrating increasing interest in this God-instructed system of consultation. He said the Saudi Shura Council has never postponed any meeting due to lack of a quorum. Sheikh Bin Jubeir gave a report on the number of meetings conducted and reports prepared by the Council over the short period of its inception for the current second year of the second session.