Greg Sheriden's Jan. 10 editorial-page commentary "The Year of Living Diplomatically" performs a disservice to Arab Muslims world-wide. Through cash donations and relief supplies, Saudi Arabia's aid to the Indian Ocean region is now in excess of $200 million -- much more than the $30 million that Mr. Sheridan sneers at. And second, Saudi Arabia has always been generous to those in need. Charity is part of our faith and our culture. Through a telethon, Saudi citizens alone have raised in excess of $80 million. When considering the country's GDP, this is equivalent to a U.S. cash contribution of more than $5 billion. In addition, the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank is pledging $510 million in loans and trade financing to help nations affected by this catastrophe.
To call the Saudis or Arab Muslims anything but charitable and compassionate is to reject the facts and malign the kindness of millions of people. Since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia has contributed approximately 4% of its annual GDP to foreign assistance, making it one of the largest donors world-wide. The Saudi government continues to work with U.N. agencies to determine how best to proceed with additional relief assistance to help the survivors of this grave human tragedy rebuild their lives over the long-term.