Saudi-Yemeni Coordination Council preparatory committee meets in Riyadh

Head of the Saudi side says Crown Prince Sultan’s directives, follow-up would positively reflect on prospects sought by two countries’ leaderships

Yemeni Premier: Saudi-Yemeni Coordination Council to discuss development projects, march of cooperation

Joint Preparatory Committee of Saudi-Yemeni Coordination Council held a meeting in Riyadh this week.

The Saudi side was led by Mohammad bin Ibrahim Al-Hudaithi, Advisor at the Royal Court and in charge of the Special Committee of the Cabinet. The Yemeni side was led by Deputy Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Eng. Hisham Sharaf Abdullah.

Members of the Yemeni side in the Mutual Preparatory Committee of Saudi-Yemeni Coordination Council, led by Yemeni Minister Abdullah, had arrived earlier.

At King Khalid International Airport, they were received by Advisor at the Royal Court Mohammad bin Ibrahim Al-Hudaithi who is in charge of the Cabinet's Special Committees and Chairman of Saudi side in the Saudi-Yemeni preparatory committee of the Saudi-Yemeni Coordination Council.

The meeting discussed agreements and protocols that would be signed at the end of the 19th meeting for the coordination council including agreements to fund development projects in Yemen.

In the meeting, Sharaf reviewed challenges facing Yemen within local and regional developments which impacted directly and indirectly on efforts of the Yemeni government to achieve development goals.

On the other hand, the deputy minister of planning and international cooperation Abdullah al-Shatar held a meeting with the director of the technical department at the Saudi Fund for Development Hassan al-Atas over agreement of funding projects of Hodeidah Hospital and Geometric Faculty in Taiz University.

The meeting approved the agreement at sum of $25 million. The two sides agreed that the fund would send mission to Yemen to study these projects.

The Preparatory Committee of the Yemeni-Saudi Coordination Council concluded on Thursday its meetings in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The committee, co-chaired by Deputy Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Hisham Sharaf and the Acting Special Committee of the Saudi Cabinet Mohamed al-Hudaithi, has completed a number of agreements and memoranda of cooperation that will be submitted to the Yemeni-Saudi Coordination Council's meeting in next Saturday to be signed in the final forms.

These agreements and memoranda of understanding included a grant of SAR 150 million (1 SAR = $ 0.26) to finance water and sanitation project in the urban cities, and SAR 187.5 million to finance the fifth energy project, as well as a donation of SAR 18 million to fund the project of equipping workshops and laboratories of the faculties of sciences and engineering at Taiz University, in addition to a grant to the project of Hodeidah Central Hospital with SAR 75 million.

It was also agreed on a memorandum of health cooperation between the Ministry of Public Health and Population of Yemen and the Saudi Ministry of Public Health, a schedule for activating the executive program for cooperation in the field of tourism, a memorandum of understanding in the field of social insurance, and the executive programs of the cultural cooperation between King Saud University and Universities of Taiz and Aden.

In its meetings, the committee discussed aspects of additional support could be in the field of vocational training and terms of the future cooperation in the field of electrical link between the two countries, and facilitating the goods streamlining between the two brotherly countries.

The 19th meeting of the Yemeni-Saudi Coordinating Council (YSCC), to be taken place on February 27 in the Saudi capital Riyadh, is expected to promote fruitful cooperation between the two brotherly countries.

The upcoming meeting of the YSCC could be described as the beginning of a new era of the promising partnership between the two Arab countries in light of changes taking place in their intimate relationships, which point to greater coherence and the interdependence of common interest, imposed by regional changes on security and stability in the Arabian Peninsula.

The meeting would be co-chaired by Prime Minister Ali Mujawar and Saudi Crown Prince Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Aviation Sultan bin Abdulaziz.

It is noted that Saudi Arabia is the spearhead of any gulf trend lines showing economical, political and security support and resistance to Yemen. That was clearly demonstrated since Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz said that Yemen is part of the fabric of the gulf, and that "it will join the Gulf Cooperation Council".

Saudi Arabia’s positions in the GCC summits were clear and honorable, including an initiative of the Saudi King on the absorption of Yemeni labor in the GCC markets. The initiative was approved by the consultative meeting of the leaders of the GCC which held in Riyadh last May.

But the most important position of Saudi Arabia towards Yemen was its clear support to Yemen’s unity, security and stability. It has adopted this position in regional, Arab and international meetings and in its meetings with the European Union and the United States.

The upcoming meeting of the YSCC would discuss ways of providing more development aid and political support to Yemen. At the end of the 19th meeting, it is expected the two countries would sign six documents and agreements under a Saudi grant to Yemen.

The agreement includes the sectors of highways, rural roads, electricity, education and vocational training. The meeting would also discuss cooperation in the areas of health, education, electrical link between the two countries, the flow of exports and encouragement of joint investments, especially Saudi capitals in Yemen.

The preparatory committee for the 19th meeting of the YSCC held meetings last June. The committee endorsed the preparation of draft agreements with the allocation of SR 798.5 million from the Saudi $ 1 billion donation to Yemen offered in the 2006 London Conference of Donors, to finance the project of the highway of Amran - Sana'a - Aden, as well as an agreement of a SR 400 million loan to help finance the highway project. In addition, it prepared an agreement of a SR 187 million grant from Saudi Arabia to finance the 5th energy project in Yemen.

The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and the Saudi Fund for Development have signed in Riyadh the minute of the final drafts agreements of $90 million for funding a number of development and service projects in Yemen. They are due to be signed during the final session of the 19th meeting.

Meanwhile, the results of the 18th meeting of the YSCC were represented in the numbers. The council’s 18th meeting was fruitful for the economic development in Yemen.

The outcomes of the meeting in the development field included:

1 - A loan SR 112.5 million agreement for the construction of the Central Hospital of Hodeidah.

2 – A loan SR 45 million agreement for the construction of the Medicine and Health Sciences Faculty at the University of Taiz.

3 - A memo of a grant SR 120 million agreement for the construction of a university hospital and a cancer center at the University of Hadramaut in Mukalla city.

4 - A memo of a grant SR 375 million agreement for the construction of the Mareb gas-operated power plant.

5 – A memo of a grant SR 187.5 million agreement for the project of enquiring technical institutes and vocational centers in Yemen.

6 – A memo of a grant SR 67.5 million agreement for the project of modernization of the General Hospital of Aden and the establishment of a heart center in the hospital.

In the field of education:

1 - Saudi Arabia agreed to finance the project of the restoration and maintenance of some codices of the Yemeni city of Zabid. The project was financed from the Saudi funds deposited in UNESCO at a cost of 159,859 euros.

2 – They agreed to increase the number of scholarships in Saudi universities for Yemeni students to 150 scholarships instead of 100.

3 – They agreed to increase the number of seats in Saudi universities for Yemeni students living in the Kingdom to 50 seats instead of 20.

4 - Yemen expressed thanks for the enrollment of 25 Yemeni students in Saudi technical and vocational training institutes.

5 – They signed a number of executive programs between Yemeni-Saudi universities.

The accelerated accession of Yemen to the GCC is a common goal of Yemen and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. The evolution of the volume of trade exchange between the two countries was one of the most important signs of their continuous cooperation during the past five years. In 2008, the trade exchange reached more than SR 3 billion.

Yemen and Saudi Arabia are currently seeking to develop and increase the volume of the trade exchange through the establishment of joint industrial and trade zones.

At the end of 2008, there were more than 340 joint investment projects set up in Saudi Arabia, including 196 industrial projects. The number of Saudi projects in Yemen was 109 projects.

The Yemeni-Saudi Business Council has recently reviewed the project of the establishment of the economic city of al-Wadiah. The studies of the $ 200 million project are expected to be completed after it received earlier approval of the YSCC. The economic city of al-Wadiah should be a joint economic zone located on both sides of the border.

This zone is one of the requirements to join Yemen to the GCC and represents an essential step to unify and coordinate Yemen’s policies in the framework of the GCC’s policies. The main goal is the integration of Yemen’s economy with the economies of the GCC.

The economic cooperation between Yemen and Saudi Arabia is not very important for Yemen’s stability, but also for stability of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in general.

This joint cooperation serves certainly the two countries and peoples and works to promote security and stability not only in Yemen, but in Saudi Arabia as well.