In a wide-ranging interview published today in the Kuwaiti-based Al-Seyassah newspaper, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz spoke about the state of the Arab world, the global financial crisis, U.S. policy in the Middle East, and a number of other issues.
Al-Seyassah editor-in-chief Dr. Ahmed Al-Jarallah asked King Abdullah about his recent speech at the Kuwait Economic and Social Summit, during which the Saudi monarch criticized Arab leaders – himself included. The King noted that his speech was well-received by the other leaders at the summit. “Our Arab world has abundant resources and means of political power,” he said. “What seems lacking are the solidarity of its leaders, the binding together of the interests of its people, and the creation of collective cooperation.”
Turning to the world financial crisis, King Abdullah observed that the world’s major economies seem to be recovering. As for the Saudi economy, the King commented, “Like many countries, we were affected by a slight panic which has, I think, disappeared when our people realized that our economy is well and capable of overcoming the effects of any unexpected world financial crisis.”
“I want to stress an important point,” King Abdullah added, “The funds and assets of the Kingdom have not been affected by the world economic crisis, which is now gradually easing.” He insisted that all major infrastructure projects are going ahead as planned. “We are continuing the implementation of what we promised,” he said. “The volume of spending will not decrease. We need no local or foreign loans.”
Asked about instability in the oil market, King Abdullah remarked, “We still think that the fair price is $75, maybe $80 per barrel.” He predicted that the volatility “should eventually settle at a high oil price . . . as we now witness a swift recovery of the world economy and we see signals of demand increase . . . Oil will remain an important energy source for many years to come, perhaps more years than those since its discovery.”
At the onset of the global financial crisis, King Abdullah revealed, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states moved to strengthen their economic ties. “We decided to underscore the importance of economic inter-relatedness and interest-based ties among our countries in a fast and better way,” he said. The ultimate goal is “moving internationally as one unit in our contribution to solutions, and promoting increased economic openness among our countries, including agreement on the monetary union.”
Asked about the United Arab Emirate’s decision to withdraw from the Gulf Monetary Union, the King stated, “We are confident that the United Arab Emirate will not hesitate to consolidate the bonds of interdependence and enhance the desired strength of our countries . . . The Kingdom and the United Arab Emirate will remain brothers, and any difference of opinion . . . will soon disappear.”
Asked what he expects from U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming address in Cairo, which will be directed at the Arab world. “Let us wait for what the U.S. president will say,” said King Abdullah. “The United States is a great and important country, not only to our Arab zone, but also to the world at large . . . We ask nothing from it other than fairness and justice to the causes of Arabs and the Islamic religion, which advocates tolerance and compassion as well as noble deeds. Our religion is a religion of justice and moderation, a religion of tolerance, love and brotherhood.”