Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques receives SAMA report, receives British defense secretary

4th batch of Crown Prince Sultan’s gift to flood-disadvantaged people in Pakistan arrives

Second Deputy Premier Prince Naif asserts Saudi Arabia’s readiness to fully cooperate with Iraq

Iraqi officials: Our borders with Saudi Arabia safe

Donors warn of risks posed to global security of Yemen collapses

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud received the 46th annual report of Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), which reviewed the recent economic developments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the fiscal year 1430 /1431H., (2009 AD) and the first quarter of the current year.

The King received the report during an audience at his palace in Jeddah with the Minister of Finance Dr. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, SAMA Governor Dr. Mohammed bin Suleiman Al-Jasser and a number of SAMA officials.

Addressing the audience, the King said,' Brothers, we expect the good from you. God willing, the coming days will be the days of blessings and prosperity for your homeland and people.

Praise be to Allah Almighty for stability, calmness and tranquility. In spite of this, we are not satisfied with all what we have done until now. God willing, the forthcoming days bode well.

I thank you and the Minister of Finance, and I wish you all success for the service of the religion and homeland.'

In his speech, Dr. Al-Jasser expressed his pleasure to present the report which coincides with the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

He said that the world-wide impact of the global financial crisis in 2009 continued and global production and services shrank by 0.6 percent, adding that despite that, economic changes during the past months of the current year show positive rates of growth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Al-Jasser noted that the Kingdom's gross national product at a fixed exchange rate fell by 0.6 percent in 2009, compared to 4.2-percent growth in 2008 year, indicating that the non-oil sector grew by 3.8 percent in 2009, compared to 4.3 percent in 2008.

He pointed out that several factors helped reduce the impact of the global crisis on the Kingdom's economy, foremost of which is the strength of domestic financial sector and the increase in the government spending, despite a fall in crude oil prices.

SAMA Governor said the government spending reached a record of SR596.4 billion in 2009, and for the 11th consecutive year, the balance of payments registered a surplus amounted to SR85.4 billion.

The monetary and banking sector also played an effective role in strengthening the results by securing adequate liquidity for financing economic activities, he noted and added that the cash flow, which increased by 10.7 percent in 2009, was associated with an expansion in services provided by local commercial banks.

He said that one significant development is a drop in domestic inflation, measured by the general costs of living index, which reached 5.1 percent in 2009, compared to 9.9 percent in 2008., indicating that most currently available economic statements anticipate a notable improvement in the performance of the domestic economy, despite the return of inflationary pressure, which reached 6.1 percent in August of this year.

Dr. Al-Jasser noted that it is important to refer to some significant international reports, including the Executive Council of the World Bank's evaluation of economic developments in the Kingdom, which said the Saudi economy was prepared to deal with the global financial crisis because of its past accomplishments of establishing sound control, organizational measures, judicious financial policies, strong measures taken, notably the increase in spending and the wise administration of monetary policies.

SAMA Governor said the State had been keen on avoiding the consequences of the global financial crisis, and the King chaired a meeting of Supreme Economic Council on October 16, 2008 to discuss the global financial crisis and mitigate its potential impact on the national economy, noting that the Council issued its directives for carrying out a number of measures to face up the crisis in various fields including monetary and banking policy.

As for fiscal policy, the State has continued to expand in public expenditures and increase lending by specialized institutions by an amount of about SR 40 billion in 2009.

Dr. Al-Jasser said that the Supreme Economic Council, continued under the King's follow-up and attention the completion of several developmental steps aimed at restructuring the economy and modernizing regulations and legislations to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of the economy.

Dr Al-Jasser noted that the Cabinet approved on August 9, 2010, the Ninth Development Plan of the Kingdom, which covers the period from 1431/1432H, allocating for it an amount of SR 1,444 billion , showing an increase of 67 percent compared to the allocations of the Eighth Development Plan.

The audience was attended by Prince Muqrin Ibn Abdulaziz, President of General Intelligence Presidency, Prince Mohammed Ibn Nawaf Ibn Abdulaziz, Saudi Ambassador to Britain, and Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz, Advisor to the King.

King Abdullah also received British Defense Minister Dr. Liam Fox and his accompanying delegation.

The Minister conveyed to the King the greetings of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom; Heir Apparent Prince Charles; and Prime Minister of Britain David Cameron. In turn, the King sent his greetings to the British leadership. During the meeting, they reviewed a number of topics of concern to the two friendly countries.

The audience was attended by Prince Muqrin Ibn Abdulaziz, President of General Intelligence Presidency; Prince Mohammed Ibn Nawaf Ibn Abdulaziz, Saudi Ambassador to Britain; Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz, Advisor to the King; Chief of General Staff General Saleh Bin Ali Al-Mohayya; Commander of Royal Saudi Air Forces Air Marshal Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Ayesh; Saudi Assistant Military Attaché to Britain Brigadier Ali Al-Qazlan; and British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Tom Phillips.

Meanwhile, a cargo airplane of the Saudi Arabian Airlines arrived at Karachi International Airport carrying on board the fourth batch of the gift of the Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General to the Pakistani people affected by floods.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Saudi ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Abdulaziz bin Ibrahim Al-Ghadeer said that the plane carrying 85 tons including 55 tons of luxury dates, and 30 tons of flour representing the fourth batch of the gift presented by the Crown Prince to the Pakistani people affected by floods.

In the Bahraini capital Manama, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud delivered a speech at the meeting of interior ministers of Iraq's neighboring countries.

In the speech Prince Naif said that the repeated meetings of the interior ministers of Iraq's neighboring countries stress the extent of the close link between security and stability of Iraq and the security and stability of its neighbors, pointing out that overlooking or overriding this historical truth means - unfortunately - putting the security of all countries without exception at risk.

At the same time, while we stand by Iraqi people with all its sects at the same distance, we are always reminding them that the interest of Iraq is in the hands of the Iraqis themselves, he explained.

Prince Naif added that when the Iraq's neighboring countries stand by the Iraqi people in their problem and help them to recover and regain stability, this means that they are doing their religious, moral and legal duty, pointing to the sacred right of the neighborhood in Islam and the International Legitimacy’s binding for not interfering in other countries' affairs at any circumstances.

He reiterated that 'all Iraq's neighboring countries have to work hard to bear their religious, moral and legal responsibilities towards the Iraqi people since they realize that the continuation of the painful situations of the Iraqi people might lead to risks which may not be confined to Iraq alone, but could cover the entire region and the international peace and security by virtue of the importance and sensitivity of this region of the world'.

Turning to another point in his speech, Prince Naif expressed strong condemnation of the bombing attack targeting the security in Iran, resulting in a number of victims, confirming that these terrorist acts are unacceptable.

'We stand by the sister Iran with all our security capabilities to help to arrest the culprits and we hope that the Iranian security authorities can identify, arrest and subject them to justice to be punished sooner', the Second Deputy Premier and Minister of the Interior added.

Prince Naif also expressed strong condemnation of all attempts to breach of the security in the Kingdom of Bahrain and to create chaos there, praising the ability and efficiency of the Bahraini security services which were able to thwart this obnoxious trend and arrest those who were behind it.

'We are fully ready to cooperate with the fraternal Bahrain with all our potentials', he stressed.

Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud concluded his speech wishing that an international cooperation might be realized to access to the sources of these terrorists and terminate them fully in order to stop such terrorism, expressing sorrow that some of the culprits are Arab and Muslims who either misled or misleading.

Meanwhile, analysts, on the eve of a donors conference to assess “progress” in Yemen, said that Al-Qaeda is on the rise in the impoverished country, security is worsening and economic woes are dire.

The "Friends of Yemen" group, which aims to fight extremism and raise funds to tackle poverty in the Arabian Peninsula country, met in New York, an official statement said.

"The meeting will review progress since the high-level meeting in London in January (and) give strong direction to future work of the Friends of Yemen," said the statement from co-chairs Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Britain.

The ministerial-level meeting will bring together donor states, other "Friends of Yemen" and Yemeni government representatives, at a time when the situation in Yemen has worsened, analysts said.

"General developments since the Friends of Yemen meeting in London in January have clearly taken a negative trend," said Nicole Starke, a security analyst with the Gulf Research Centre in Dubai.

"Developments indicate a deterioration in the security situation, in particular in the south," Starke said.

"Al-Qaeda has become stronger since the beginning of this year," she said, adding that "it appears that the initiative is in the hands of the terrorists, at least in the southern provinces of the country."

Yemeni forces have since the weekend been locked in a standoff with up to 100 alleged Al-Qaeda militants who officials say are holed up in the Shabwa province town of Huta.

In late August, government forces and alleged Al-Qaeda militants fought a pitched battle in the town of Loder in the southern province of Abyan. At least 33 people were killed, including 19 militants, according to an AFP tally based on official and medical sources.

Protests and intermittent unrest have also rocked the south of Yemen, where there is a growing secessionist movement and many residents complain of discrimination by the Sana’a government.

Thousands of supporters of Yemen's Southern Movement, whose members want either increased autonomy or independence for the region, demonstrated in south Yemen, local officials and witnesses said.

Yemeni authorities also face a sporadic Zaidi Shiite rebellion in the north.

Mohammed al-Zahiri, a professor of political science at Sana’a University, also pointed to Al-Qaeda as a rising problem in Yemen.

"Al-Qaeda is present in Yemen and its role is increasing, this is true," Zahiri said, adding however that the government was "exaggerating" the threat of Al-Qaeda.

"The government is... creating scarecrows in order to get foreign aid and bolster its position," he said.

"The real problem in Yemen is not Al-Qaeda but corruption," Zahiri said.

"To Western states, I say: if you want to help, pressure the Yemeni government to fight corruption and achieve a state of law," Zahiri said, stressing that corruption and poverty contributed to Al-Qaeda's rise.

In addition to security problems, Starke warned of brewing economic trouble.

"There is evidence of a deepening of the economic crisis, with the Yemeni currency depreciating over the past months," she said.

Analysts, and officials, also noted that the disbursal of aid to Yemen over the years has been problematic.

Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Kurbi said earlier this month that 15 percent only of about 5.7 billion dollars of aid pledged at a conference in London in 2006 has been disbursed.

"The overall security situation makes it difficult for donors to implement projects on the ground," Starke said.

Neil Patrick, a Gulf analyst and visiting politics and international relations lecturer at London's University of Westminster, said strict guidelines from Gulf states on how the aid should be spent was contributing to the slow disbursal of funds.

Gulf states "do not want to give general budget support to the Yemeni government for fear of the money being diverted into unwanted areas, so they set quite strict criteria, which requires Yemeni planning capacity on identifiable projects that Sana’a" often does not posses, Patrick said.

Starke said the meeting in New York "will be crucial in determining the progress in the delivery of the promised financial support to Yemen."

"Working groups will present their assessment during the meeting, and based on the government's performance, there will be a decision on when and how much money can be delivered," she said.

Britain had called the January meeting after a foiled Christmas Day attack on a US airliner by a Nigerian man thought to have been trained in Yemen. Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen claimed the botched attack.