Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz chaired the weekly Cabinet meeting at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah yesterday.
The King opened the meeting by congratulating the people of Saudi Arabia as well as all Arab and Muslim nations on the holy month of Ramadan. He called on Arabs and Muslims to seek unity and cohesion because it is in their own interest in both religious and global issues.
King Abdullah said that Islam is a religion of love and moderation whose values reject extremism and introversion. It is a religion that calls for mutual respect, understanding and equality to build tolerance, cooperation, peace and trust among nations. The King referred to the ten-point action plan endorsed by Muslim leaders at the extraordinary OIC summit in Makkah in December 2005. All should shoulder the responsibility of promoting dialogue, including dialogue among religions, in order to demonstrate the true values of Islam, he said.
In a statement following the session, Acting Minister of Culture and Information Saud Al-Muthami said that the King briefed the Cabinet on his recent meetings and consultations concerning regional issues.
The Cabinet reviewed the crises in the Middle East, particularly Palestine, Iraq and the aftermath of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, and called for comprehensive and just solutions based on the principles of international law and international legitimacy. It called for the peace process to be revived in order to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which negatively affects the chances for reaching peaceful solutions to the other crises.
The Cabinet called on the UN General Assembly to assume its responsibility of coordinating efforts to confront global challenges through international cooperation, including the crises in the Middle East.
The Cabinet issued a number of decisions. It approved measures to facilitate recruitment of foreign laborers for the contracting sector. It also formed a Ministry of Finance committee to speed up the implementation of government projects.
In addition, a new article was added to the existing residence permit system (iqama) permitting judges to allow the penalties against foreign violators of the iqama system to be published in local newspapers at their own expense. The same regulation also applies to those who violate the hajj or umrah visas.
The Cabinet also approved a system for government tenders and purchases. According to the new system, all individuals, establishments and companies that wish to deal with the government in foreign investment will receive equal consideration. Priority will be given to those dealing in local industries and products. All government bids will be public, except those exempted from the system. The new system will take effect within 120 days.
The Cabinet approved several appointments, including Saud Bin Salih Alhamad Alsalih and Dr. Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Alghunaim as representatives of the private sector on the board of directors of the water desalination corporation for three-year terms; Jarallah Bin Suleiman Bin Jarallah Alkhateeb as legal consultant at the Ministry of Defense and Aviation; and Dr. Abdulrahman Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Almakhdoob as Director General for Rights at the Ministry of Interior.