Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz opened yesterday the third international conference on desertification organized by King Saud University in Riyadh. The aim of the conference, attended by scientists and researchers from Arab and international organizations as well as government departments in the Kingdom, is to specify a strategy for combating desertification in the new century. About 90 percent of the land in the Arab World lies in arid or semi-arid regions, and the problem of desertification is closely linked to scarcity of water, pastoral policies, and urban expansion.
In his address, Prince Sultan urged the authorities concerned to exert intensive efforts for the solution of the problems of both environmental pollution and soil erosion from desertification. He referred to Article (32) of the Saudi Basic System of Government, which stipulates the state's commitment to preservation of the environment, and urged Saudi universities and research centers to cooperate in this with both government and non-government bodies.
Prince Sultan then held an open dialogue with the participants. In answer to questions, he expressed pride in the accomplishments of King Saud University and the King Khaled University Hospital; declared that Saudi women are highly respected, granted full rights in accordance with Islamic Shariah, and encouraged to enter the fields of science and technology; and reaffirmed that the Manpower Council and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs are actively promoting Saudization in the private sector.