Saudi cabinet under Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques briefed from King Abdullah on latest regional, international developments

Cabinet calls for end to bloodshed in Syria, welcomes establishment of Gulf police agency

King Abdullah, Crown Prince Naif receive SAMA report

Prince Naif to patronize King Khaled Award handing ceremony, receives Iranian intelligence, security minister

Defense Minister Prince Salman discusses Saudi-British relations with ambassador

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud chaired the Cabinet session which was held at Al-Yamamah palace in Riyadh.

At the outset of the session, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques briefed the Cabinet on discussions and consultations that took place last week with a number of State leaders or their envoys on the latest regional and international developments, including the telephone call he received from President Barack Obama of the United States of America.

The Cabinet condemned the acts of aggression carried out by the Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian people, including the recent series of raids carried out by Israeli aircrafts on different areas of the Gaza Strip which led to the death and injury of dozens of Palestinian civilians, including children, women and elders, as well as continuation of Israel's racial policy in the Arab land territories in Palestine, the Syrian Golan and southern Lebanon, particularly in violating the legitimate rights to the use of natural resources including water.

Israel continues to drain water resources of Palestine, making the water situation in Palestine tragic, leading to a lack of resources, and the groundwater being seriously polluted.

The Cabinet welcomed the outcomes of the Afghanistan International conference held in Bonn, stressing the Kingdom's keenness on the unity and stability of Afghanistan, and expressing appreciation of President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan for his noble feelings towards the Kingdom which he expressed in his speech during the conference.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session, Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohieddin Khoja, Minister of Culture and Information, said the Cabinet reviewed the latest developments at the Arab arena, congratulating the brothers in the Republic of Yemen on forming the national reconciliation government in accordance with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative which was signed in Riyadh and its executive mechanisms, asking Allah Almighty to restore the stability and security of Yemen so that it continues its progress and development.

The Cabinet expressed wishes that the meetings of Arab Foreign Ministers and the Ministerial Committee on the Syrian crisis to be held in Cairo next week will reach the results of stemming bloodshed and restoring security and stability in Syria.

Dr. Khoja said that the Cabinet discussed a number of events and activities that took place within the programs of the GCC Member States, including a meeting of the GCC interior ministers and the GCC ministers of municipalities held in Abu Dhabi, and the meeting of speakers of GCC Shura, Representatives, National and Ummah (nation) Councils held in Jeddah.

The cabinet welcomed the approval by the GCC countries of the establishment of a GCC police force and a permanent security committee of the Ministries of Interior of the Member States to be concerned with industrial security and protection of vital installations, stressing in this regard that the GCC countries are a single entity and that any threat to the security of any state is a threat to the security of the GCC countries as a whole.

The Minister of Culture and Information said the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi briefed the cabinet on the results of the Seventeenth Meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Durban, South Africa, where the Kingdom (represented by the National Committee of the Clean Development Mechanism) won the Award of the best authority that presented a program for promoting the culture of the clean development mechanism.

The cabinet stressed the Kingdom's firm position that calls for preserving the interests of the States Parties to the Convention in the framework of justice and balance and in a way that contributes to a global sustainable economic growth. The Cabinet further reminded all of the Kingdom's efforts in encouraging cooperation with the international community to face climate change and adapt to it in accordance with its stated objectives for the protection of environment.

Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohieddin Khoja said the Cabinet then continued discussion of its agenda and issued the following decisions:

The cabinet approved the amendment to paragraph (IV) of the Council of Ministers Resolution No. (1200) dated 9/9/1397 AH relating to the revision of the amount of compensation awarded to officers, non-commissioned officers, and the military students in case of death or disability preventing them from work indefinitely if the death or disability is caused by work.

The Cabinet approved the Regulation on Maritime Areas of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The most prominent features include:

1-The rules and regulations of the Kingdom determine controls ships entry to and leave of its territorial waters.

2- Ships of all countries have the right of innocent passage through the territorial waters of the Kingdom. The passage shall be innocent if it does not harm the Kingdom's peace, system or security.

3- All countries should acknowledge the rights of the Kingdom to its exclusive economic zone and comply with the laws of the Kingdom, the provisions of the convention and any other rules of the international law.

4- Application of the regulation does not prejudice any agreements signed previously between the Kingdom and its neighboring countries as well as those opposite to it regarding maritime borders or exploitation of natural resources in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Arabian Gulf.

The Cabinet authorized the Minister of Justice - or his deputy - to discuss with the GCC Ministers of Justice the addition of the text of the proposed amendments attached to the decision to the unified draft law for the family courts of the GCC Member States.

The Cabinet approved the implementation of the decision of the GCC financial and economic committee which was held in Abu Dhabi 21-22/10/2011 regarding the extension of the amended regulations to exempt national industry inputs from customs taxes (duties) of the GCC Member States currently in force for a period of three years beginning 1/1/2011, and will be evaluated during the coming period whenever the need arises.

The cabinet approved amendments of a number of provisions relevant to the rules of supplies policy according to cabinet decision No. (855) dated 26/5/1396 AH.

The cabinet approved the organization of the Saudi Center for the Efficiency of Energy according to the text attached to the decision.

The Cabinet approved the unified system to extend insurance protection to the military men of the GCC citizens working outside their countries in any GCC Member States which is adopted by the decision of the GCC Supreme Council in its 31st session held in the United Arab Emirates during the period from 30/12/1431 to 01/01/1432 AH.

The Cabinet approved that, for Saudi pensioners covered by the military retirement system, the implementation of the provisions (of the unified system to extend insurance protection to the military men of the GCC citizens working outside their countries in any GCC Member States) be optional.

The Cabinet approved that, within the Kingdom, the implementation of the provisions of the unified system to extend insurance protection to the military men of the GCC citizens working outside their countries in any GCC Member take effect as of 7/6/2011.

The Cabinet approved a number of appointments as follows:

1- Abdulqadir bin Abdullah bin Salem Basfar appointed to the post of branch Director General of the General Auditing Bureau in Makkah region (rank 15) at the General Auditing Bureau.

2- Ahmed bin Saleh bin Abdulrahman Al-Saadi appointed to the post of branch Director General of the General Auditing Bureau in the Eastern region (rank 15) at the General Auditing Bureau.

3- Mohammed bin Saud bin Ali Al-Ghaithi appointed to the post of branch Director General of the Civil Status (rank 14) at the Ministry of Interior.

4- Eng. Ibrahim bin Sulaiman bin Ibrahim Al-Najashi appointed to the post of Consulting Civil Engineer (rank 14) at the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs.

King Abdullah announced a Cabinet's mini reshuffle and appointed a number of senior officials in new posts.

In Royal Orders issued by the Royal Court and read on the Saudi Television tonight, the monarch relieved Dr. Fu'ad bin Abdulsalam Farsi of his post as Minister of Hajj, replacing him by Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed bin Hamza Asaad Hajjar who quit his job as Deputy Speaker of the Shoura Council while the post went to Dr. Mohammed bin Ameen bin Ahmed Al-Jeffery in the rank of Minister.

Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Qusaibi was relieved of his post as Minister of Economy and Planning, replaced by Dr. Mohammed bin Sulaiman bin Mohammed Al-Jasser who was relieved of his post as Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) who left the post for Dr. Fahd bin Abdullah bin Abdullatif Al-Mubarak in the rank of Minister.

Mohammed bin Ali Al-Fayez was relieved of his post as Minister of Civil Service, replaced by Dr. Abdulrahman bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Albarak who quit his current post as Assistant Speaker of the Shoura Council which was filled by Dr. Fihad bin Mu'tad bin Shafaq Al-Hamad in the excellent rank.

Abdullah bin Ahmed Zenel Ali Redha left the Ministry of Commerce and Industry with the portfolio taken by Dr. Tawfeeq bin Faozan bin Mohammed Al-Rabee'a.

On the other hand, the monarch also relieved Faisal bin Abdulrahman Al-Muammar of his post as Deputy Minister of Education which went to Dr. Khalid bin Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Sabti in the rank of Minister.

Bin Muammar was transferred to the post of Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Secretary General of King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue in the rank of Minister.

The monarch also appointed Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed bin Hamad Al Al-Sheikh as Deputy Minister of Education for Boys Affairs in the excellent rank, and Dr. Abdulrahman bin Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Ibrahim as Governor of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation in the excellent rank.

All the above changes and appointments will go into force with immediate effect, according to the statement.

The king received the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA)'s 47th annual report which reviews the major and most recent economic developments in the Kingdom for the fiscal year 1431 /1432 H. (2010) as well as the first quarter of this year.

Governor of SAMA Dr. Mohammed bin Sulaiman Al-Jasser handed over the report to the monarch during an audience at Al-Yamamah palace in the presence of the Minister of Finance Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, SAMA Deputy Governor Dr. Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al-Homaidi and senior SAMA officials.

Dr. Al-Jasser then delivered a speech to highlight the report.

Al-Jasser expressed happiness that the Kingdom, under the prudent leadership of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is proceeding with its march for more progress and prosperity in an unprecedented cohesion between the leadership and citizens.

Internationally, the world economy is still waning from the negative impacts of the international financial crisis that strongly hit a number of leading economies.

However, domestically, our economy has evaded being dragged by the public and private indebtedness which devastated many economies of the industrialized countries, proceeding its growth for the 11th consecutive year at 4.1 percent, he stated.

He added that the non-oil economy has grown by 4.9 percent with the Kingdom scoring a budget surplus at a rate of 5.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and a balance of payments surplus of SR250.3 billion for the 12th year in a row.

He said the inflation rate increased slightly from 5.1 percent in 2009 to 5.3 percent in 2010 and reached 5.2 percent in October 2011, bearing in mind that its survival in the previous years was mainly attributed to the soaring of food and rent prices. It is expected that the rhythm of growth of the national economy will accelerate in the current year, he said.

The Governor of SAMA cited a number of factors contributing to the growth of GDP, including the augmentation to unprecedented levels of governmental spending, vastly appropriated for different developmental projects.

He also gave an account of a number of Royal Orders that would contribute to the improvement of cost of living, citing the establishment of the Ministry of Housing, the building of 500,000 residential units worth SR250 billion for the needy in all parts of the Kingdom in five years, the increase of housing loans from SR300,000 to SR500,000, fixing the basic salaries for citizens at SR3000 per month, appropriation of SR2000 monthly for each job-seeker, raising the capital of the Saudi Credit and Savings Bank by SR30 billion, the increase of the ceiling of the number of social insurance beneficiaries in each family from 8 to 15 members, the allocation of SR1 billion for this purpose, the increase of the government bursary to charities by 50% bringing it to SR450 million, and granting soft vacancies in universities for students descending from poor families.

He reported that, in the health field, as much as SR16 billion were appropriated for the Ministry of Health to implement the expansion of a number of hospitals and health dispensaries.

The program of financing private hospitals was increased from SR50 million to SR200 million.

In terms of restructuring and re-organizing the economy, including the renovation of regulations and legislations, the Kingdom ranked 12th among 183 countries of the world, according to the Business Performance Report issued by the World Bank for the year 2012, Al-Jasser said.

He added that the Kingdom's prudent oil policy has managed to provide the necessary financial force to confront the international financial crisis and reduce the public debt from 104 percent of the GDP in 1999 to about only 7 percent in 2011.

Despite the above-mentioned achievements, including the steadfast of the banking system in the Kingdom in the face of regional and international shocks, we can state some challenges that, surely, You would spare no effort to find out remedies for them, the Governor of SAMA addressed the monarch.

He cited creation of jobs, diversifying the sources of income and reducing dependence on oil and reducing the soaring domestic consumption of oil and gas.

For his part, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques thanked Al-Jasser for the report which he described as a giant step forward. The King attributed these successes to adhering to Islamic creed and noble morals.

The audience was attended by Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Defense, and Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Minister of State, Member of the Cabinet and Commander of the National Guard.

Meanwhile, Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, received SAMA's 47th annual report which reviews the major and most recent economic developments in the Kingdom for the fiscal year 1431 /1432 H. (2010) as well as the first quarter of this year.

Governor of SAMA Dr. Mohammed bin Sulaiman Al-Jasser handed over the report to the Crown Prince during an audience at Al-Yamamah palace also held for the Minister of Finance Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, SAMA Deputy Governor Dr. Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al-Homaidi and senior SAMA officials.

The audience was attended by Prince Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Chief of the Crown Prince Court and the Special Advisor to the Crown Prince and Abdulrahman Al-Rubaia'an, Special Secretary to the Crown Prince.

The crown prince will patronize on December 18 an honoring ceremony for winners of 2nd King Khaled Award. In a press statement, Prince Faisal bin Khaled bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Asir region and President of the Award Commission has expressed his thanks to and appreciation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Crown Prince for their continuing national efforts in the development of the society, expressing his pleasure over the Crown Prince's patronage of the ceremony for handing over the Award to the winners.

He also expressed his pride in awarding King Khaled Award for National Accomplishments for this year to the late Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz.

Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, received Minister of Intelligence and Security of Iran Heidar Moslehi and the accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, they reviewed a number of issues of common concern.

The meeting was attended by Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, Chief of General Intelligence, Prince Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Chief of the Court of the Crown Prince and Special Adviser to him, and Abdulrahman Bin Ali Rubaiaan, Special Secretary to the Crown Prince.

The meeting was also attended by the Iranian Ambassador to the Kingdom Sayed Mohammad Jawad Rasouli.

Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Defense, received British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond and the accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, they reviewed cooperation between the two friendly countries, ways of its enhancement, and the current situations at regional and international arenas.

The meeting was attended by Chief of General Staff, General Hussein bin Abdullah Al-Qabil, the Director General of the Office of the Minister of Defense Lieutenant General Abdulrahman bin Saleh Al-Bunyan, Saudi Military Attaché to Britain Air Commander Dawood Al-Salim, and British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Tom Phillips.