A seminar was organized at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC yesterday afternoon in collaboration with the Jeddah-based Okaz organization for press and publication, on the occasion of the centennial of the event that led to the founding of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There was a panel of Saudi thinkers and academicians, and the audience included Arab Ambassadors, U.S. officials, intellectuals and pressmen.
Speaking on behalf of Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Ambassador Ahmed Kattan highlighted the significant role being played by the media in projecting this great national event. The seminar was addressed by Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Fayez and Dr. Ahmed Saifaddeen, both members of the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura); Dr. Sdaka Fadil and Dr. Waheed Hashim from King Abdul Aziz University; and Dr. Ahmed Al-Yousef, editor-in-chief of the 'Saudi Gazette', an Okaz English language daily.
[full text of Prince Bandar's address]
Dr Al-Yousef focused on the role being played by the media in projecting facts and correcting wrong concepts. He noted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has ten publishing houses, which produce some 132 publications including periodicals as well as daily and weekly newspapers.
Dr. Al-Fayez underlined the historical importance of the centennial, saying unification of the Kingdom was the first successful Arab unity in modern history. He noted that Saudi relations with other countries are based on the principle of mutual respect, non-interference in the domestic affairs of the others, and settlement of conflicts through peaceful means. He praised the Kingdom's role in the service of Islam and Muslims as well as that of enhancing the pillars of global peace and stability. He remarked that Saudi Arabia has been playing an effective role in regional and international organizations such as the United Nations, the League of Arab States, and the Gulf Cooperation Council. He referred to the Kingdom's crucial support of Muslim causes such as those of Palestine and Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as in liberating Kuwait from the yoke of Iraqi occupation. He pointed out the Kingdom's part in the settlement of the Lebanese problem with the Taif Convention, and how, recently, in collaboration with South Africa, Saudi Arabia made a positive contribution to the settlement of the Lockerbie case. He praised the Kingdom's support to developing countries, which over the period 1973 to 1982 averaged seven percent of its gross national income, with a total to date of U.S. $ 90 billion.
Dr. Saifaddeen discussed the impact of Islam on the resolutions pertaining to development and modernization in the Kingdom, remarking that modernization was not achieved at the expense of Islamic values and that on the contrary, new technologies were used to serve Islamic traditions. He highlighted the great achievements accomplished by King Abdul Aziz and reviewed the internal and external challenges he faced. By unifying the country, King Abdul Aziz established security and stability and paved the way for development and progress. Right from the beginning, the education of the Bedouins as well as urban citizens was one of the most challenging and beneficial aspect of King Abdul Aziz' vision for the future. Dr. Saifaddeen went on discuss how Abdul Aziz' four sons after him followed in his footsteps in balancing modernization and Islamic values, and the crucial role of the development plans adopted since 1970. Reviewing the great advances made by the Kingdom in the area of education, he said there are now more than four million students throughout the country. He also praised the great attention being given by Saudi officials to the Two Holy Mosques and the excellent services being extended to the pilgrims.
Dr. Fadil reviewed how the Kingdom, over the last fifty years, has achieved importance, to become a source of stability in the Middle East. He pointed out that Saudi Arabia is located in one of the most politically unstable regions of the world, yet has maintained stability by asserting the principle of justice and granting rights to all individuals, and by dedicating itself to Islam.
Dr. Hashim discussed the political leadership of King Abdul Aziz, referring to him as a far-sighted leader, and testifying to his success in building up a cohesive political and social order in the state and in establishing a solid foreign policy.