Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Dr. Muhammad Al-Jarallah addressed in New York yesterday an extraordinary session of the United Nations General Assembly on human settlements, and pointed out that the Kingdom has prepared urban strategies to ensure proper development in its cities, and integration between the rural and urban areas. These strategies, he said, take into account the preservation of the environment. He went on to say that the Kingdom is concerned with enabling the private sector to play a positive role as regards urban development, adding that over the past five years Saudi Arabia has established a number of commissions and organizations including the Higher Economic Council (HEC), the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), and the Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT). Dr. Al-Jarallah reiterated the Kingdom's adherence to the UN's conventions and agreements, adding that in accordance with the Istanbul conference, his ministry had established a national observatory for urban indicators. Saudi Arabia, he said, is concerned with providing all categories of society with the social services they require, and in particular, gives utmost attention to the rights of the child. He referred to the work of certain government authorities, notably the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Information, the General Presidency for Youth Welfare, and the General Organization for Social Insurance. He also referred to the attention given to women's rights, in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
Dr. Al-Jarallah went on to point out the role Saudi Arabia has been playing in assisting developing countries and victims of natural disasters either directly or through international and regional organizations, providing about five percent of its gross national product as foreign aid. As for the suffering in the Middle East, he said the Israeli occupying forces have been taking repressive measures against the Palestinians in violation of the UN's convention and principles, and urged all countries of the world to shoulder their responsibility towards ending Israel's aggression, stressing the importance of enabling the Palestinians to regain their legitimate rights including that to establish their independent state with Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as its capital.