2006 News Story

Cabinet: Asian visit, Hajj, domestic issues

With Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on a four-nation official visit to Asia, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz chaired this week’s Cabinet meeting at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.

Crown Prince Sultan opened the meeting by stating that King Abdullah’s official visits to China, India, Malaysia and Pakistan, which began in Beijing Sunday, would enhance bilateral relations and cooperation with those nations.

In a statement following the meeting, Minister of Social Affairs Abdulmohsen Al-Akkas said that Crown Prince Sultan praised the various government agencies and other organizations that enabled the Hajj pilgrims to perform their rituals easily and comfortably. The Crown Prince also offered condolences to the families of the victims of both tragedies that occurred during this year’s Hajj – the collapse of the Loulouat Al-Kheir hotel in Makkah and the stampede at Jamarat.

On international issues, the Cabinet denounced publications offensive to Islam that appeared in some European media outlets. The Cabinet also expressed condolences to Kuwait upon the death of its emir, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah.

Then Crown Prince Sultan briefed the Cabinet on the talks King Abdullah held with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Syrian President Bashar Assad, and US Vice President Dick Cheney. He also briefed the Cabinet on additional contacts with numerous friendly countries on regional and international issues.

Turning to items on its agenda, the Cabinet issued the following decisions. The Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General or his deputy were authorized to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on military cooperation with Turkey. The Cabinet also banned non-Saudis from running housing affairs for pilgrims, those performing the Umrah or other visitors, and established fines for those who violate this regulation.

The Cabinet also handed over the transportation for female students between home and school to the private sector, provided that each student’s annual fee would not exceed SR 1700 [$453]. In addition, drivers of the girls’ buses should be Saudi nationals.

The Cabinet also approved several regulations to improve and regulate the performance of joint committees between Saudi Arabia and a number of countries in the world; a national strategy for the Kingdom’s forests; and a new social insurance rating for families.

Appointments and promotions included the appointment of Dr. Ibrahim bin Mohammed Al-Bathi as Undersecretary for Construction and Projects at the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs; Prince Salman bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz as Minister Plenipotentiary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Mohammed bin Salih Al-Garnas as Director General of the Riyadh-based Youth Welfare office for Riyadh Region.