Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stresses need to answer queries by the anti-corruption commission

Defense Minister Prince Salman briefed on social insurances projects

Governor of Makkah reviews projects in holy city

Saudi-Indian talks to push forward bilateral economic cooperation

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has expressed his thanks to Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Chairman of Board of Directors of Disabled Children's Association and its employees for the special versions prepared by the Association on charitable works and support provided to the Association by late Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (May Allah bless his soul).

In a reply cable addressed to Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the King said, 'I have received your letter attached by a copy of edition 63 of Al-Khutwah (Step) Magazine issued by the Association and a copy of the documentary film on charitable works and support provided to the Association by late Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz . I thank you for this, praying to Allah Almighty to greatly reward the late Prince for his charitable works.'

Meanwhile, Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior has expressed his thanks to Minister of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance and General Supervisor of Holy Quran Competitions, Sheikh Saleh bin Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh after reviewing his cable on the occasion of the conclusion of 33rd session of King Abdulaziz International Competition for the Holy Quran Memorization, Intonation and Interpretation organized by the Ministry at the Holy Mosque of Makkah last month.

In a reply cable, the Crown Prince said,' I thank you for your noble feelings and appreciate your distinguished efforts exerted in this great competition, wishing you all success.'

Prince Naif also received at his office in the Royal Court Dr. Muflih bin Rabiean Qahtani, Chairman of National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) and its members.

During the audience, the Crown Prince stressed that the human rights in the Kingdom are protected and preserved by applying the provisions of Sharia (Islamic law) in addition to relevant laws and regulations.

Crown Prince Naif was also briefed on NSHR role to disseminate and promote the culture of human rights.

The audience was attended by a number of princes and officials.

Meanwhile, among the raft of royal decrees issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz was the establishment of a national commission to combat corruption. This new government department's will monitor and oversee all other governmental departments, with its sole mission being to locate and confront administrative and financial corruption in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In his fist statements to the press, the newly appointed head of the Saudi Arabian anti-corruption commission, Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al-Shareef, told Asharq Al-Awsat that "I am honored by this appointment" and stressed that he was honored by the trust being placed in him by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz. He added "I will do my best to achieve the objectives that this commission has been established to fulfill."

The royal decree establishing the "National Anti-Corruption Commission" also ensured that this governmental body reports solely and directly to King Abdullah, which reflects the Saudi monarchs concern with combating corruption and putting an end to this phenomenon. The royal decree called for the establishment of this commission within 3 months.

The royal decree also made it plain that the National Anti-Corruption Commission will oversee all government sectors, and that no government sector or department will be excluded from this. The royal decree gives the anti-corruption commission the mission of monitoring the execution of orders and special instructions with regards to public affairs, as well as monitoring and confronting administrative and financial corruption.

The royal decree provided the head of the Council of Ministers, and the head of the Royal Court, with all the relevant orders required for the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Commission. The decree also called on all government departments, ministries, and bodies, to submit to the authority of the commission and provide it with whatever it requires.

On the other hand, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Defense received the Governor of General Organization for Social Insurance Suleiman bin Saad Al-Hamid, and a number of senior officials of the Organization, who came to greet and congratulate him on the royal trust in his appointment as Minister of Defense.

During the meeting, the Governor briefed the Prince on the Organization's national roles, noting that the number of subscribers in the Organization totals five million, including more than one million people working in the private sector and some workers in the public sector.

The Governor also disclosed that the Organization's expenditures for its beneficiaries in the domain of salaries and their families amount to SR 15 billion annually and that the monthly average of pensions exceeds SR 800 million.

Prince Salman expressed his appreciation of the Organization's activities in the field of social insurance, investment projects, and creating job opportunities for citizens.

The meeting was attended by Director General of the Office of Minister of Defense, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman bin Saleh Al-Bunyan.

Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Governor of Makkah region, Saturday reviewed the latest developments in the region's ten-year plan. The Makkah regional plan is part of the comprehensive national plan and outlines all the projects required by the region until 1450H (2028G).

Prince Khaled Al-Faisal highlighted the importance of city as the strategic starting point for the region.

He was speaking during a meeting with the Under secretariat of the Emirate for Development Affairs in Makkah. It was attended by Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Al-Khudhair, Under Secretary of Makkah region's governorate.

In a related development, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal was also briefed by Darwesh Al-Ghamdi, Director General of Planning and Coordination, according to a report published by the Jeddah-based Saudi Gazette.

Al-Ghamdi revealed that a total of 2,096 projects will be carried out in the plan's first stage in many different sectors.

The plan, he said, aims for better socio-economic integration in the region, the establishment of new development centers and diversification of the economic base.

The development centers will raise the living standards of the citizens, he added.

"The efforts are guided by the relative advantage for the sites of activities and aim to benefit from available resources, improve the urban environment and upgrade infrastructure and public utilities," he said.

Meanwhile, the Governorate of Tabuk Region has been implementing municipal projects amounting to SR 1,099 million including new projects in Tabuk City, covering a period of the last year and the current fiscal year.

The Mayor of Tabuk Region Eng. Mohammed bin Abdul-Hadi Al-Omari said that the projects included roads asphalting, lighting, and sidewalks; development of streets and parks; and drainage of floods and rain-waters.

The Saudi-Indian Joint Committee held a meeting co-chaired by Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Tawfiq bin Fozan Al-Rabiah and Indian Minister of Finance Pranab Mukherjee.

The two-day meeting discussed means of enhancing cooperation between the two countries in various fields. The meeting was attended by Saudi Ambassador to India Dr. Saud bin Mohammed Al-Sati and a number of officials.

In 2010, the volume of trade exchange between the two countries reached SR 87 billion.

The Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah opened the works of Saudi-Indian Joint Business Council at the headquarters of Confederation of Industry.

In his opening speech, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah expressed his pleasure over the rapid development of economic and trade relations, noting that the volume of trade exchanges between the two countries exceeded SR 87 billion in the year 2010, an increase of 5 times compared to the year 2000, indicating that India ranks the 7th on the list of the largest trading partners of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

He welcomed investments from Indian business sector in projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or in partnership with Saudi businessmen in various fields.

The opening ceremony was attended by the delegation accompanying the Minister, Saudi Ambassador to India Dr. Saud bin Mohammed Al-Sati and Indian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Hamid Ali Rao.

Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah met with members of the Board of Directors of the Confederation of Indian industry and businessmen participating in the meetings of Saudi-Indian Business Council.

Addressing the meeting, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah stressed the strength of Saudi-Indian joint relations, which have been greatly supported by the leaderships of the two countries.

He noted that the volume of trade exchanges between the two countries exceeded SR 87 billion in the year 2010, and increased 5 times compared to the year 2000, indicating that there are nearly 231 Indian companies working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a capital of about one billion U.S. dollars.

The Minister of Commerce and Industry said that in view of the super-sizes of the economies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and India, there are great potentials for the cooperation of businessmen in both countries to further increase these projects and enter into new partnerships that contribute to strengthening relations between the two sides in the coming period.

He pointed out that the Saudi economy has become one among the largest Arab economies and the economies of Middle East countries; and it has attracted about $ 38.2 billion of direct investments, which represents about 39% of foreign investments in Arab countries.

For his part, the President of the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Eng. Abdullah bin Saeed Al-Mubti expressed in his speech the hope for increasing economic and trade cooperation between the two countries as the economies of the two friendly countries possess real potentials that contribute to increasing the volume of cooperation and to enter into partnerships useful for the business sectors in both countries and contribute to the establishment of joint ventures in new areas needed by the markets the two countries.

In an address on the occasion, the President of the Confederation of Indian Industry K.K. Kutty pointed out that the presence of a large delegation of Saudi businessmen emphasizes the importance of joint works for the development of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

He reviewed the major industrial areas to which the Indian side can contribute and the two sides can cooperate in the coming period, including car and advanced engineering industries.

The meeting was attended by Saudi Ambassador to India Dr. Saud bin Mohammed Al-Sati, Undersecretary of Ministry of Commerce and Industry for Foreign Trade Abdullah Al-Hamoudi; President of the Saudi side at Joint Business Council Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Rabiah; and a number of businessmen in the two countries.

Al-Rabiah had arrived in New Delhi this week on a two-day official visit to India at the head of Saudi Arabia's delegation to attend the 9th session of Saudi-Indian Joint Committee that started its deliberations in New Delhi this week.

Upon arrival, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah was received by Saudi Ambassador to India, Dr. Saud bin Mohammed Al-Sati and a representative of the Indian Ministry of Trade.

The Committee will discuss aspects of cooperation between the two friendly countries and ways for their enhancement in various trade sectors.

In 2010, the volume of Saudi-Indian trade exchanges accounted for SR 87 billion inclusive of SR 72 billion Saudi exports to New Delhi and SR 15 billion Indian imports to Riyadh.

By the end of 2011, the number of Saudi-Indian joint projects in the Kingdom totaled 231 projects comprising 77 industrial and 154 services projects.