We are in a race against time to achieve the Kingdom's vision 2030, Prince Mohammed bin Salman announces
Saudi Press Agency
Riyadh, Sha'ban 6, 1438, May 2, 2017, SPA -- In a 50-minute interview with Al-Thamnah (the 8th) TV program aired here this evening, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, confirmed that the implementation of the Kingdom's vision 2030 is done through its three-faceted programs, one runs until 2020, another to 2025 and the third to 2030.
He described them as executive programs carrying clear-cut means and goals to achieve the vision.
He said that what has been launched last Sunday is the remaining of the vision's programs extending to 2020 so that in the remaining period of this year 2017 and the whole 2018, 2019 and 2020, we will be devoted to implement the rest of the programs.
The Deputy Crown Prince, who is also Chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), added that, pressured by time constraint, the Kingdom has previously launched two programs: the national transformation program and the financial offset program 2020 "as we don't want to be delayed", he put it.
At the same time, we would like to conduct our job in a professional and world class way, he said, adding that, accordingly, we have issued a decision that any program should be launched once it is ready with the rest of the programs to come.
Clarifying a point raised by the announcer of the TV program Dawood Al-Shiryan, which was aired by the Saudi TV this evening, coinciding with MBC channel, the Deputy Crown Prince said that last Sunday a ten-point 2020 program was announced for the government authorities and concerned bodies to implement through the programs' councils, each headed by a minister who is member of CEDA.
He said preparations for those programs will be underway in the coming months, and are expected to be launched consecutively in the coming six months.
Q: Your Royal Highness, the Vision 2030, as it was launched, last year, has unleashed two programs for the national transformation and fiscal off-set, however, on last Sunday, a package of other 10 related programs have been launched. How come that the beginning has included only two programs, while we see now 10 programs, being set forth, together?
A: Following a period of 10-month of launching the vision, in last Ramadan, I have started the Vision Governance, in which I pointed out that carrying out the vision will be done through the vision's related programs. These programs included three phases: the 1st is up to 2020, the 2nd is up to 2025 and the last 3rd is up to 2030. These are executive programs with clear cut agenda as well as techniques, in order to realize the vision. What has been launched last Sunday, was the remainder of the vision that goes up to 2020, as it will be divided over the remaining of 2017 and the years, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.
However, to secure implementing these programs, we launched the two programs: the National Transformation and the Fiscal Off-set 2020, as we were running against time, fearing that we might be lagged behind, on one hand, and willing to carry out the tasks, in a highly professional way, on the other. Hence a decision was made, at the time, that any completed program, shall be, immediately, launched, and the remainder will follow suit .
What we have seen, in last Sunday, was that we have pinpointed 10 programs related to the phase 2020, in order that government and other pertinent bodies will embark, on these programs, through their respective councils, each chaired by a member of the CEDA, to set for preparation, in the next coming 10-month prior to launching them, in the next following six-month.
In reply to a question regarding the Kingdom Vision 2030's impact on growth, unemployment and non-oil income, the Deputy Crown Prince said that "I think that great achievements have so far been reached. Having a look from 50,000 feet altitude, we will find that the proportion of deficit is less than what has been forecast by all analysts, both at home and abroad, for 2015 and 2016 and also for 2017 budget, we will find non-oil revenues nearly doubled over the past two years from nearly SR 111 billion to about SR 200 billion. We also find that the budget control has become more accurate, comparing a budget with expenditures ranging from 25% to 45% in the last year with this year's budget expenditures of less than 10% percent. If we look at the decline of oil prices in the 1980s and the 1990s as well as in 2009, the main economic indicators were affected, such as the unemployment index which increased due to sharp declines, the inflation index rose in a very dramatic way, and the investment index fell very strongly. Amid this crisis, the oil prices witnessed an unprecedented rapid fall in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's history, reaching a $27 low in a short period and continuing for more than a year trend. With the help of Allah Almighty, upon directives of the Royal leadership, and the dedicated performance of government agencies, officials and employees, we were able to keep many indicators intact. We can cite unemployment, inflation and investment indexes as not strongly affected as was the case in the near history. Not only that, but also the growth index continued, though below global average, but has not sent the Saudi economy into recession. Now, the programs to be launched soon will have their effect by the end of 2017, with greater and stronger impact in 2018 and 2019 on all these major economic indicators.
Asked about the plan to overcome the unemployment phenomenon following the recession in the local market, Deputy Crown Prince said that any reform process and restructuring of the country's economy will have side effects. It is obvious that, in view of oil price falling to a $ 27 low for a long time and ranging to no more than $ 40, many symptoms will affect the state's expenditure. These 10 programs cover various expenditures ranging from investment to private sector, strongly and mainly stimulating job creation in the coming few years. As everybody knows, the goal of vision 2030 is to reach a 7% unemployment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These programs will, no doubt, push us to a better international classification in 2020 than we are today.
In reply to a question on the reason behind imposing and then re-instigating the allowances, the Deputy Crown Prince recalled that the decision to stop the allowances was a temporary one to be reviewed periodically. He went on to say that one factor for taking the new step was the improvement in our oil revenues. He drew the attention to the fact that the doctrine behind tackling the financial off-set program was based on three scenarios pertaining to oil price: a pessimistic scenario of $ 45, an average scenario of $ 50 and an optimistic one of $ 55. Accordingly, we were adjusting our securities to different oil prices. During the first quarter of 2017, we were close to the optimistic scenario, which is $ 55, sometimes over, sometimes a bit less. This is a positive element. The other positive factor is that our non-oil revenues in the first quarter of 2017 achieved more than expected, nullifying the decision to deprive the public from their allowances. The overall issue is considered a great job done by competent authorities in the financial and economic, investment fields who accomplished it in just eight months.
A very great effort was exerted to strike an historic OPEC non-OPEC oil price and production agreement, a measure strengthening our position in terms of government oil revenues in addition to actions carried out in the field of non-oil revenues. Investments and restructuring many sectors that come under the Public Investment Fund contributed to levying such revenues which also strengthened our position and helping taking such a decision.
Q: Was the allowances' sum greatly affecting (the budget) to the degree of stopping them?
A: When we watch oil price slumps to about $27 per barrel and lasts for months-long under $40 barrier, we don't know which scenario will prevail, in the next coming 3 to 4 years and we don't know whether our endeavor to reach an oil (reduction) agreement will succeed or fail and we do not know whether our non-oil revenues' programs will succeed or not and we did not know whether our investments will yield, in a short term, or we will not be able to make profits that would help the public budget, in the short run. Hence, we decided not take a risk that might be at the expense of the national economy. Such an action has been done before. It has been done in the 80s and in 97. But, the difference between the two periods is that we have undergone through few months to return to normalcy, while in the past cases, in our history and other nations' histories, it takes a lot of years to return to normalcy.
Q: I meant was the sum so crucial in supporting the (budget)?
A: No doubt. If you want to cork the bluffs, you must take all necessary measurements, till you apprehend that your house is set in order. Then you begin unleashing, in a proper way.
Q: How would you comment on some Western reports claiming that the decision to revoke, was due to public pressures, calling it a set-back?
A: That's not true. The deficit has decreased, in the 1st quarter to 44%, this is sufficient to prove that we are right. The budget deficit is decreasing than what we envisioned, then why should we keep adopting austere measurements?
Q: What are the main factors that led to bringing down the deficit to only 44%? In your opinion?
1 - Oil revenues, above all, as a result of the accord to reduce oil production.
2 - Non-oil revenues, due to some measures taken, during the last two years.
3 - Returns of the Public Investments' Fund, for the first time state coffers have received tens of billions per annum, in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and in 2017 and in the increase.
These are the main factors that pushed down the deficit to only 44% lesser than the previous estimate.
Q: What if the price of oil falls below $ 30?
A: We expect that the deficit in the second, third, and fourth quarters will not be less than 44%, because we are back and spending again.
Q: What if oil returned and fell below $ 30, would we return to austerity and tighten the belt?
A: There is no doubt that if we go through a critical stage, we will return to the austerity measures. But today we are working on initiatives that will make us stronger in receiving shocks, and if our initiatives succeed, we will need oil prices below $ 50. This will make us receive strong shocks without taking measures including fighting the belt.
Q: After the return of allowances, people began to look at the citizen account that it will not be completed?
A: The unified account of the citizen is to compensate the citizen for any rise in the prices of energy, water or the like so that it does not affect the citizen of the middle income and less and the impact be on the foreign or rich citizen. Today, we want to redirect the support to be materially directed to the citizen. Those with middle income or limited income should decide to spend the same amount of money that he or she had previously spent on (energy, water, gasoline or other goods) or reduce its consumption and spend that amount in another.
Q: Almost 12 million citizens registered their information. Have you started benefiting from it?
A: Now we believe that those who deserve support are less than ten million, or nearly ten million, and the competent authorities are working to determine the final form.
Q: Do the ten million include the poor and the middle?
A: We try to be as generous as possible, and try to include the largest possible categories, even if they are above the middle in a simple way so that it has a strong impact on the Saudi citizen, but so far the details have not ended, and the competent authorities are working on it and it is presumed that they will end them in the coming months.
Q: How will you deal with future unemployment, do you have a number?
A: If you notice, it is required from each program of the ten programs that were launched when announced in the next six months to measure the impact of each program on the main indicators of the economy, including the unemployment index, in the next six months we will see the impact of each program on unemployment and how many jobs to be created by the program and what percentage it will affect unemployment, and we expect that the impact of these programs will be very strong to reduce the unemployment rate, and I can only give you real impact at the time of the announcement of each program.
Q: How much do you expect the expected increase in public debt in 2017/2018?
A: The public debt as announced in the fiscal balance program will not exceed 30%. We target public debt on the GDB 30% and so far we have not reached 30%. There are expectations that even in 2020 we will be less than 30% and the public debt of 30% does not mean a problem. Some countries in the world have GDB up to 50%, some up to 60% and some up to 200%, including G20 countries. If we look at the big countries, the five major economies have a public debt of more than 30%. It is healthy for the Saudi economy to have a percentage of debt, which means that we have opportunities for development programs on which we spend money. We have two options: to spend and continue to develop and create jobs and opportunities and create private sector opportunities, or stop spending. Our debt reduction ratio is very simple, and this gives us a comparative advantage that we can rise to international rates and continue to spend.
Q: How do you see the future of the Public Investment Fund over the next three years? Will its investment be internal or internal and external?
A: The Public Investment Fund is one of the most important pillars of Vision 2030. We have several opportunities to develop the size of the Public Investment Fund:
1- Unutilized assets, and a lot of assets were entered in the Public Investment Fund and some of which have been seen or announced, and these will be reflected in the size of the Fund and the size and value of the Fund and the profits of the Fund.
2. We have heard that some of the reserves that are not needed by the state's finance have been transferred to the public investment fund; perhaps 100 billion riyals several months ago, also there is a restructuring of the public investment fund companies so that their performance and growth and profits are better than the previous, All this will increase the size of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) including the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco.
Q: What about Aramco?
A: Aramco's IPO will provide huge sums to the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF), and this Fund will help to target many sectors inside and outside Saudi Arabia, and one of the most important sectors is the mining sector. According to the 1970s survey, which was re-examined last year, I think there are mining opportunities wealth $ 1.3 trillion, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has minerals resource, as only the gold wealth $ 240 billion, that need huge investment. Foreign and domestic investors are difficult to risk in a new sector such as mining. Investment must be throughout PIF and offering Aramco IPO will offer cash which will support PIF to invest in this new sector, which has only been exploited by less than 3% up to date. We have another very important goal which is the local content; today, the volume of Saudi Arabia purchases from outside of Saudi Arabia on goods or activities, etc., up to $ 230 billion, and the Kingdom's 2030 vision's goal is to be half of this spending inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The most important local contents, which amount $ 230 billion, are the military industry which consume about $ 50 to $ 70 annually. We are the third largest country in the world to spend 99% on military armament from outside of the Kingdom, and this is a huge opportunity to create large industries within the Kingdom, create jobs and create development. The decision is own 100% by government, and today, the government has made a decision requiring that any industry must be linked to the government's local content, which means (I only buy from you as how much you give me for local content).
There are different forms of industries, for example, technology industries are not that high-sensitivity, so the other countries do not have the embarrassment to transfer its know-how to us by, such as light weapons or ammunition or other related as spare parts or structures. There are industries where countries have a certain sensitivity to transfer it inside the Kingdom, so we try to come out with the deal by a certain percentage of local content. Sometimes we manage to reach 70% for local content, and in other time 50% and 20%. There are complex industries that countries refuse to transfer technology to Saudi Arabia, and in this case we require to use the main materials that made in Saudi Arabia, thus we had an indirect impact on our local content within Saudi Arabia. The current requirement of the competent authorities in Saudi Arabia is that no weapon deal without benefit for the local content as the purpose is to transport the weapon industry 100%, and if we do not succeed, we must eventually end in 2030 with 50% of the local content; which means 50% out of $ 70 billion is to spent inside Saudi Arabia in 2030, and gradually rising. The Deputy Crown Prince pointed out that, from today, there are a range of armaments deal will be announced in the coming period, and we will know in each deal how much local content and job vacant it has. The armaments is the largest item in the local content. The second item is the manufacture of the car where almost the Kingdom's annual total cars purchases are up to $ 30 billion, sometimes more than that and sometimes even less. The positive side is that $ 13 billion of these purchases are made by the Saudi government. We can start in the first stage by offering our need through Saudi manufacturing companies that shared by the Saudi government, and this will lead us to 40% 43% in 2030 from the automotive industry.
Q: Will be there a plan to saudize auto industry?
A: We will not try to offer goods to the citizen in the next ten years as cars, it will be very difficult to compete in quality and prices, but we can ensure that to link the deals for the government to creating this industry within Saudi Arabia.
The third most important industry for local content is the entertainment and tourism which estimated $ 22 billion annually spent out of Saudi Arabia on entertainment and tourism. This is the most difficult industry because the Saudi citizen has its total decision. The investment in this industry needs to convince Saudi citizen to spend his entertainment budget in Saudi Arabia instead of outside. Our target is to have 50% of the total entertainment and tourism budget in 2030. Hence, to 2030, we will have challenges and little profitability business, as well as the risk is very high. There isn't anyone will invest in this industry but PIF to succeed this sector and then privatized and sold in the stock market, and put companies in the stock market, and then PIF will start to recoup the funds and enter into other opportunities. The fourth sector targeted by PIF is the logistics sector. We have three very large opportunities in logistics and we work very strongly on them. The most important opportunity is "the Red Sea" which is 13% of the world trade passes through the Red Sea, and Saudi Arabia does not offer anything on this side (Zero services). There are huge opportunities to work along the Red Sea for many of the exports and imports of countries, and we began today to work with many countries in the past, topped by China, and now we work with China on a huge initiative in the city of Jizan industrial, and there are other countries come successively.
Q: Will this include port development?
A: True, development of ports or participation in industrial cities along the Red Sea and opportunity we are working on is the exports of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries to Europe, 40% of exports of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries are to Europe, especially as the Gulf countries are going through the Arabian Gulf to the Straits of Hormuz to the Arab Sea to Bab al-Mandab to the Red Sea to the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea, and this takes time, cost and security risk, while we can provide them with a corridor through Saudi Arabia directly to King Salman Bridge, which was announced last year to North Sinai, reducing time and cost; the security guarantees in it are much higher than the regions they pass through.
Q: Are you proceeding with King Salman Bridge project?
A: Without a doubt, this will create a lot of industries and businesses inside Saudi Arabia from connecting roads, connecting power grids, linking gas and oil pipelines, and connecting railways to North Sinai. The third opportunity we aim at in Logistics is aviation, today our brothers in the UAE and Qatar have done a very good job in air transport in the Middle East, while they do not have a strong domestic market to rely on to take over and control the Middle East markets. Saudi Arabia has the largest domestic market as an airline market. Saudi airlines should have a much larger share in Middle East today, this is also the third aspect we seek.
Q: What are the reasons for the absence of Saudi aviation, is it weak airports?
A: There is no strategy and there is no vision. The orientation was random until we reached the stage we reached today. If we set a goal and set plans to reach this goal, there will be an achievement of 100% or 50% or 30%. The Fund is the main engine for the major sectors within Saudi Arabia. The Fund will have a very large cash flow from Aramco's IPO. At least 50% and up to 70% of this cash will be directed to new sectors within Saudi Arabia (mining, local content, logistics). After we cover opportunities within Saudi Arabia, we will direct the remaining 50% or 30% abroad to the promising sectors in which we will be in the forefront ten years from now. All details will be announced in launching the program of the Public Investment Fund in a precise and detailed manner.
Q: When Alqidiah project was announced, people's reaction was that they wanted housing. What did you think?
A: We have many fronts to work on, and we cannot stop a successful project if another is lagging. This will disrupt the work of the whole government. All projects should work and achieve and those lagging should tackle the reasons for the delay. On the other hand, what is spent by the Public Investment Fund, and not the state, is an asset owned by the fund that was not exploited. In the past, it was giving us 1% profit, at best 2.5%, with bonds and funds outside Saudi Arabia. Today, what we are doing is we are transferring these fund into Saudi Arabia and invest in sectors that give profit better than 2.5 or 1 percent and grow major important sectors we have and contribute to local content in the recreational side. This will ultimately create profits for the Fund, and the Fund will turn them into the state treasury. The state will become stronger, and it will cover more "housing and other expenses" of the expenses needed by the state, in addition to creating jobs that contribute to solving many of the problems of Saudi citizens, but they contribute to the development of the private sector.
Q: Among the programs that were presented last Sunday the housing program and there was a reference to three solutions .. What is your vision through the program to the issue of housing?
A: We are optimistic and expect the situation for us more positive than we thought, there will be hundreds of thousands of free units in the housing program, there will also be more than one million units for Saudi citizens by soft lending, the first free of charge hundreds of thousands and there is no specific number. The final figure will materialize at the time of the launch of the housing program, but there will undoubtedly be more than one million units sold by soft loans or loans from the Real Estate Development Fund, the Real Estate Development Fund will contribute to lending and also the Public Investment Fund will contribute to soft loan sale in the housing sector.
Q: Will the fund return to its previous role of pumping money?
A: The Real Estate Development Fund undoubtedly is a major moving element of housing sector development. We have three types of housing, hundreds of thousands for free. I cannot give you a final number and housing supported by the Real Estate Development Fund, and housing from the main investor, the government, which sells it in an easy way and at a reduced price to the citizen. This is a very long-term loan whose profit to the Fund does not exceed 3%, while the citizen can own the second day and pay for many years without affecting his main income, not to mention the free units as large as possible for citizens who cannot cover the costs of Housing Program.
Q: When will you expect the launch of the project?
A: It is supposed to be in six months,. I don't expect it to be the first program to be launched because it is complex and has very high spending. I expect that it will be launched in the third quarter of 2017.
Q: Prince Mohammed, some economist writers have concern about Aramco as it is property of the Kingdom and should not offer IPO, what is your opinion?
A: I think that this thought tends to socialist thought, which everything must be under property of government, even the bakery. In the main documents in which Aramco was established during the reign of King Abdulaziz was preparing to listed in the market at that time. Today, we have a company with a huge value, and we can keep this company in Saudi Arabia, and keep its influence in Saudi Arabia, and make it grow in Saudi Arabia, while taking its benefits by supporting other sectors that are not in Saudi Arabia. The sums that we will earn from Aramco will help us capture many opportunities as we mentioned in beginning of discussing meeting. If Aramco does not offered IPO, we are going to take 50 years or 40 years to develop the mining sector. we will take 40 years to develop local content. we will take long years to develop logistics services, like we did 40 years ago. When we offer part of Aramco's stock IPO, and have a cash to create new and strong sectors in Saudi Arabia, it will develop the economy, create jobs, improve government and PIF revenue and so on, while at the same time Aramco in Saudi Arabia.
Q : How much percentage for IPO?
A : We have two main factors to determine the percentage of IPO.
Q : What are we going to sell, the service or wells or what?
A : We sell the value of the company, wells are owned by state, only the company has the right to use these wells which is in the past and in present and in the current time and has not changed anything. The size of the quota to be sold is linked to two factors, one is the "demand"; is there demand or not, the second is what we have on pay line as investment inside and outside of Saudi Arabia. The "cash" is what we need, and if we don't have a sector to invests in Saudi Arabia or absorbs this investment so why we sell a stake from Aramco?, but if we have a sector need investment so we sell a stake immediately. These two factors will determine how much we sell from Aramco, and undoubtedly will not be far away from 5% too much.
Q: When offering Aramco IPO project will start?
Q: Do you now work on papers and permits?
Q: If Aramco offered IPO, who will determine Aramco's production ceiling?
A: Saudi government will determine the production's limit. Saudi government is in favor of increasing production at the price that suits the company. A part of The government's revenues is from the oil tax (50%) on the sold or produced oil, as well as the taxes it receives from Aramco. The government's interest is to increase Aramco revenues. So, the government will not take a decision contrary to its interests and the interests of Aramco production rate.
Q: Prince Mohammed, the subject of production and the economic vision and mentality in the market, do they will freed from the political decision?
A: Production rate is not a political decision. Production is an economic decision. It was not a political decision in the past. What is the economic interest in determining the appropriate production rate? This is governed by supply and demand and coordination with the OPEC countries and non OPEC countries to avoid collapse or confusion in oil prices.
Q: What are the programs launched last Sunday, investment program to stimulate 100 companies to be regional or international companies, what are the companies targeted to raise their level?
A: I cannot call companies names now. There are companies are part of the stock market and companies outside the stock market. We acquire more than 100 companies have the opportunity to turn from a local company to a regional leading company, and also acquire companies that have the opportunity to be transferred from local companies to international pioneered companies. We have a group of companies that can achieve this transformation and this is huge impact will be reflected on the Saudi economy. Simple procedures, facilities and agreements with other countries need to facilitate their sales and facilitate their spread.
Q: Will the government negotiate on behalf of companies and take care of their interests?
A: With no doubt. We find all the governments of the world, the last of which was the German Chancellor who visited us with the managers of the most important companies in Germany, and negotiated as if these companies belong to the German government, and she discussed all details for the success of the work of these companies. The Saudi government should play its role for the success of Saudi national companies This will transform 100 Saudi companies from local leading companies to regional and regional leading companies to leading global companies. This will give the experience in how to transform these companies to large companies. After 2020, we will operate programs targeting a wider range of these companies.
Q: Does this mean that the state can lend them?
A: This may be as may be announced in the program.
Q: The private sector now complains about the high operating costs, and believes that this will become harmful in the industry and in trade. What do you think of this as prices rise and the economic situation shrinks?
A: I do not think this is accurate, but the programs that will come out will stimulate the private sector very strongly. Sales to the private sector will increase very strongly. If you spend hundreds of billions in a short period of time, this will undoubtedly have a very positive effect on the private sector, for example, we used to rely only on government capital spending. Today, in the coming years we will have a high government capital expenditure. This is one, two: there will be spending from the reserves mentioned in the financial balance program "200 billion riyals" to develop the private sector. This is spending, not capital spending, which we all are used to. Thirdly, and it is important: the spending of the Public Investment Fund. The Public Investment Fund will spend in Saudi Arabia after Aramco's IPO more than SR500 billion in just three years. You can imagine this spending in the military industry, the automotive industry, the entertainment industry or tourism industry or other industries, which will have an impact on the private sector, and will strongly stimulate their sales in all sectors, whether in retail, transportation or service sector.
Q: Will you impose taxes on corporate income?
A: No, this is not mentioned in the program of financial balance, and we mentioned that there will be no taxes on wealth or any taxes on income.
Q: Companies coming to Saudi Arabia, are there facilities for foreign investments?
A: True, today, the Ministry of Commerce is working on screening the work of the Investment Authority and our work is different. In the past, we waited for requests to come from the companies and today we pick up the companies we want to work in Saudi Arabia. There is a very long list of companies that the Investment Authority must seize every year and introduce them to the Saudi market.
Q: Is there anyone who wants to enter but complains about our procedures?
A: True, all of them are simple procedures and greatly contribute to the work of these companies. For example, in the recent visit by the German chancellor, the German companies had a problem that our license in Saudi Arabia only lasts for one year, while their strategies and investments are based on four years. A change in this aspect was given to them so that the license lasts for five years: simple procedures greatly stimulate the work of foreign companies in Saudi Arabia.
Q: With regard to the privatization of the health sector and other important sectors?
A: Successful countries have private health sectors. The government's role is to guarantee free treatment for Saudi citizens. We provide guarantee an insurance policy for all citizens and he chooses the private hospital he desires. This will provide a better health sector.
Q: When does this wheel start?
A: Very complex project. We expect things to be clearer this year.
Q: What other sectors can be allocated in the near future?
A: The municipal services sector, also the transport sector, mainly airports, aviation and ports, these are the main sectors we are targeting at this stage.
Q: On the subject of the vision, you mentioned that there will be an increase in the number of those wishing to perform Umrah and Hajj through the two Holy Mosques' facilities. However, Muslims in Pakistan, for example, or from other countries or Muslims living here, believe that the fees will have a negative effect. as pilgrims will perform Umrah once instead of four times a year?
A: This is an incorrect propaganda, and we know who is behind it: those who hate Saudi Arabia, and the interests of Saudi Arabia in one way or another, and tries to seize any opportunity to alienate the Muslim peoples from Saudi Arabia. First, before this decision there were fees of 50 riyals for Hajj and Umrah. Even those who come for the first time pay 50 riyals on the visa of Hajj and Umrah. This decision is not aimed at the visa of Hajj and Umrah, but is aimed at all visas of the Saudi government and unifies its price at one price. The Saudi government's services to pilgrims cover the costs of the first Hajj and the first Umrah of any Muslim at the expense of the government, If a Muslim wants to perform the first Hajj, he will not pay the value of the visa and the Saudi government will pay the visa and if a Muslim wants to perform Umrah the first time, the government will pay the value of the visa, but those who come back for the second or third times, first, they drain the Saudi economy and we served them for the first time free of charge; second, they take the place of another Muslim who wants to come for Hajj and Umrah.
Q: A minister was sacked for violations and abuse of authority. Is this decision an activation of the commission against corruption?
A: The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, made changes on the first day of accession to power, sensing the importance of the role of the Anti-Corruption Commission and his dissatisfaction with the role played by the Commission. This means that if you do not give priority to the fight against corruption you will not succeed whatever you do. I assure you that any person involved in a corruption case, whether minister, prince or whatever, will not escape. Any person with sufficient evidence against him will be held accountable.
Q: Will social networking sites contribute to detecting corruption if any.
A: We must not take documents on the issue of corruption from social networking sites because we cannot differentiate between the fake and the real and between those who have a special agenda and those who do not. Any Saudi citizen who has information on corruption should provide it to the competent authorities headed by the Anti-Corruption Authority, and must trust that the competent authorities are doing their job.
Q: The war on the Houthis in Yemen is open. Will it continue?
A: No one wants to continue the war.
Q: What is its future in your opinion?
A: There is no doubt that the when war began, there was no other option for Saudi Arabia. It was something we had to do, or the other scenario would be much worse. First, it is a coup against legitimacy by militias classified as terrorist militias with which we have a negative 2009 experience. Second, the militias posed a danger to the international navigation and against all Yemen's neighboring countries. Third, the terrorist activity on the other side of southern Yemen has been very active in exploiting the work of these militias. If we wait a bit, the danger will become more complicated and the danger will become within the territory of Saudi Arabia and within the territory of the countries of the region and the major international transits. There was no other choice for us. I think that the Saudi armed forces achieved a very big achievement. When the operations started, the legitimacy's control over the Yemeni territory was almost zero%. Today, the legitimacy controls 80 or 85% of the Yemeni territory, while another alliance was founded in northern Saudi Arabia in Iraq and Syria to fight Da'ash, which controls part of Iraq. 60 countries led by the United States of America from 2014, and a year earlier until today they have not done anything. We are 10 countries in the region managed to accomplish an achievement in a shorter time than the time of war of operations of Iraq and Syria. This is an achievement for the forces of Saudi forces, Yemeni forces and all coalition forces.
Q: As long as it controls the Yemeni territory, why the legitimate authority does not move to Yemen?
A: The legitimate authority always moves between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. It has been in Aden for a long time, and they always avoid having the president and vice president both in Yemen to mitigate the danger of the liquidation of Yemeni legitimacy.
Q: There is talk about a disagreement between Saudi Arabia and the UAE about Islah group and their role in the war and the future of Yemen.
A: rumors are too many and sure enemies want to create as much rumors as possible among allies.
Q: Why are the areas under the control of al-Houthi more secure and stable, like Sanaa, than the legitimacy's areas, especially in Taiz and Aden?
A: I want your source of information, and I totally doubt this.
Q: Some reports say that the Coalition's intelligence is ineffective because the Houthi and Saleh still have stocks of weapons?
A: We can uproot the Houthi and Saleh in a few days and we can mobilize the Saudi land forces alone and in a few days, all areas and the remaining 15% under the control of Houthi and Ali Abdullah Saleh can be uprooted by us, but the result will be thousands of casualties in our forces. We will open condolences in every Saudi city. The second result would be very high Yemeni civilian casualties and very large losses, and time and patience are in our side and we have the supply and we have all logistic supplies and our moral is high. The enemy has no supply, no money and no patience, time is in our side and we will take advantage of the time which is in our side. If you do not take advantage of the time that is in our side, we will give service to the enemy.
Q: There are repeated proposals by Ali Saleh, can this be a way to isolate Houthi?
A: Ali Abdullah Saleh has a very big disagreement with Houthi and we know that today he is under the control of Houthi and under the custody of Houthi, if not under the control of Houthi, his position will be completely different from his position today without a doubt, Ali Abdullah Saleh if he left Sana'a to another area his position will be completely different from his position today, today he may be forced on many of the positions he mentioned.
Q: He put forward an initiative when his son came early in the war and you refused?
A: It is true that we were trying to make a political initiative to avoid war and we were opening a discussion line at that time, provided they did not approach Aden, because if they approached Aden, it would be very difficult to discuss a political solution. Houthi is courting in Yemen. Unfortunately, the desired result did not happen and were forced to enter operations.
Q: There are forces that don't support the legitimacy or the coup, why the kingdom does not open line with them?
A: All lines are open, whether forces supporting the legitimacy or forces of Ali Abdullah Saleh, or not supporting both sides and every day more are attracted.
Q: Tribes of northern Yemen, did they hide neutrality? You met the tribes, how did you see them today?
A: There is no doubt that enthusiasm has been very high among them, and they all hate the Houthi group very much and want to get rid of it as soon as possible so that they can devote themselves to Yemen's development programs.
A: I go back to the subject of Egypt. Relations with Egypt were excellent. Then, Egyptian media began to suggests that relations almost broke, what is happening?
Q: You mean the Egyptian Brotherhood media. The media criticizing Saudi Arabia or the Saudi-Egyptian relationship is the same criticizing President Sisi, and the Saudi-Egyptian relationship is a strong and solid relationship in the deepest roots of relations between countries and is not affected in any way. The history of Egypt and Saudi Arabia always stand with each other. All the circumstances and at all times did not change this thing and no negative attitude has been taken by the Egyptian government towards Saudi Arabia, and no single negative attitude has been taken by the Saudi government towards the Egyptian government. The two countries have completely supporting each other at the level of the two governments and peoples. Without a doubt, the enemies of Saudi Arabia and Egypt will try to create rumors in one form or another, whether from Iranian propaganda or Brotherhood propaganda to cause a rift in the Saudi-Egyptian relationship, and the leadership of the two countries does not pay attention to these polemics and trivialities.
Q: You mentioned the subject of King Salman bridge between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Do you bet on it?
A: True, and the bridge after it was approved, the competent teams started working in offices, not in front of the media, and it will be announced at the time of laying the foundation stone with full details, and the time of laying the foundation stone is before 2020 without a doubt.
Q: The islands, have you ended the subject of the islands?
A: Originally, there was no problem with the islands.
Q: We heard the Egyptian media talk about the subject that it is within the courts?
A: What occurred almost a year ago is only a delineation of the maritime boundaries, the islands are registered with Egypt as Saudi islands and are registered in Saudi Arabia as Saudi islands and also registered in the international centers as Saudi islands, it was only demarcation of the maritime borders and Egypt did not give up any inch of its territory and Saudi Arabia did not give up any inch of its territory. The demarcation of the border came for reasons of economic benefits that may be created after the demarcation of these borders, especially King Salman Bridge, oil supplies, gas supplies, power supplies or trains, or roads that will target the port in North Sinai and exports of Gulf States to Europe.
Q: Is it possible to see in the future a direct dialogue with Iran despite what it is doing in the region?
A: How to talk with a person or a regime that has a firm conviction that its system is based on an ideology of extremism enshrined in its Constitution and stipulated in the command of Khomeini that he must control the Muslims of the Islamic world and the dissemination of the Twelve Jaafari doctrine of theirs throughout the Islamic world until the awaited Mahdi appears? This one, how can I convinced him? What are the interests between me and him?! When there is a problem between me and another state, we start to solve it. For example, if there is an economic problem, contacts are made to solve it, or a political problem, for example with Russia, how to understand each other in Syria and Yemen and what your interests and mine are. But, how to talk with one who believes that the Mahdi will come and must prepare the fertile environment for the arrival of the Mahdi. They must control the Muslim world and deprive their people of more than thirty years of development and put it in the stage of hunger and poor infrastructure to achieve this goal. He will not change his mind in a day and night or his religion will end inside Iran. So, what the points of convergence that can be understood with this regime. They are almost nonexistent. The regime was tested at more than one stage in the time of Rafsanjani and turned out to be plays. After the revolution of Khomeini come the expansion strategy to anger the world and then come out the commander of peace which was then Rafsanjani to win the trust of the world including us. After gaining access to another stage and a good environment, an extremist leader is dispatched to continue the process of expansion, such as what we saw with Ahmadinejad in Iraq, Syria and other locations. Then another leader comes to preserve the gains to satisfy the world. And then comes an extremist leader to continue to spread the expansion, this will not happen, this is finished. A believer does not get bitten from the same source twice. We were bitten once. We will not get bitten twice, and we know that we are a main goal for the Iranian regime. Reaching the Qiblah of Muslims is a main goal for the Iranian regime. We will not wait until the battle becomes in Saudi Arabia but we will work to have the battle in Iran rather than in Saudi Arabia.
Q: What do you think of the solution in Syria, how do you see it?
A: Syria is undoubtedly a very complex situation. There is no doubt that former US President Barack Obama missed a lot of important opportunities in which there could have been a very big change in Syria. Today Syria has become an international issue. Russia, a major country, is there. The US is there. All the five major countries are there. Any friction among these countries may cause a crisis that far greater than the Middle East crisis. So, the situation is very complex. Today, we are trying to make the most gains for the interests of Saudi Arabia and the interests of the Syrian people and the countries of the region.
04:06 LOCAL TIME 01:06 GMT
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|