Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz…a march of giving

Prince Sultan’s charity activities went beyond Saudi Arabia’s borders

Prince Sultan: Everything I own except my own house is the property of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Charity Foundation

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HRH Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz was designated Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and appointed Deputy Prime Minister, by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on August 1, 2005, upon the death of King Fahd.

Crown Prince Sultan is also Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Prince Sultan was born in Riyadh on 30 December 1930 (10 Sha'ban 1439H), and received his early education in religion, modern culture and diplomacy along with his brothers at the royal court. He was appointed Governor of Riyadh in 1947.

Much of his time, however, was taken up in assisting his father in the setting up of a national administrative system based on justice and the implementation of Sharia [Islamic Law].

When the Council of Ministers was formed in 1953, Prince Sultan became the Kingdom's first Minister of Agriculture. In that capacity he helped set up a project for resettling nomadic tribes.

Two years later, Prince Sultan became Minister of Transportation, and contributed greatly to the development of the Kingdom's roads and telecommunications network.

Prince Sultan supervised the construction of the only railway system on the Arabian Peninsula, connecting Dammam with Riyadh; he is currently Chairman of the Saudi Arabian Railways Organization.

Prince Sultan was appointed Minister of Defense and Aviation in 1963. Since that time he has helped establish the modern Saudi Arabian armed forces, including land, air, naval and air defense forces.

He has presided over the construction of military cities throughout the Kingdom. In addition, Prince Sultan is Chairman of the Board of the Kingdom's national airline, renamed 'Saudi Arabian Airlines' in 1996.

On the succession of King Fahd in 1982, Prince Sultan was named Second Deputy Prime Minister.

Prince Sultan has also served as Chairman of the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development (NCWCD), an organization which he founded in 1986 to promote the protection of the nation's indigenous wildlife.

Another recent organization is the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Charity Foundation , which was established in 1995 to provide social services and health care for the elderly and comprehensive rehabilitation programs for the disabled.

Prince Sultan has chaired, or currently chairs, various committees, including the Supreme Committee for Education Policy, the Manpower Council, the Ministerial Committee on Environment, the Board of the General Enterprise of Military Industries, and the Higher Committee of the Offset Program.

Prince Sultan has conducted official visits to Arab and Muslim countries, and to nations around the world, meeting with heads-of-state and officials. He led the Saudi delegation to the 40th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1985 and also to the 50th anniversary of the organization in 1995.

During official visits to the United States in October 1995, February 1997, and November 1999, Prince Sultan met with President Bill Clinton and a number of U.S. officials.

The following transcript of an interview with Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz was posted on Asharq Al-Awsat’s website June 8, 2008.

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT: Lebanon passed through difficult and serious circumstances. Are you happy with the way things are currently progressing, especially after the election of President Suleiman?

CROWN PRINCE SULTAN: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was eager to invite all Lebanese parties to resolve their disagreements through dialogue, give preference to national interest, and reach a solution to their problems without tension.

Also, the Kingdom has always asserted the importance of reviving Lebanese institutions and achieving stability and prosperity in Lebanon. On that basis, we are extremely satisfied because these goals have been achieved.

We hope that the Doha agreement and election of President Michel Suleiman will mark the beginning of efforts to ensure a stable and prosperous future for fraternal Lebanon. We hope that the Lebanese people, including all their sects and political groups, will work together to serve their country through their constitutional institutions and to achieve accord among themselves in a state that will bring all parties together and impose its sovereignty on everyone.

What prompts satisfaction is the fact that the Lebanese crisis was resolved in the framework of the Arab home. Previously, the Arabs worked to reach the Al-Taif accord to establish the constitutional structure of Lebanon and its institutions.

Similarly, the Arabs worked to reach the Doha agreement to pursue that policy and achieve accord through dialogue while rejecting conflict and confrontation.

This fact indicates that the Arab nation is most concerned for the interest of its states and people, away from foreign whims and designs. Also, the Doha agreement shows that the Arabs can resolve Arab crises if they are sincere and serious and enjoy credibility.

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT: In your Highness's opinion, what is the missing link today between the Arabs and Iraq?

CROWN PRINCE SULTAN: Iraq is an inseparable part of the Arab nation and a state with ancient history and civilization. We regard Iraq and its people with great love and appreciation.

We share both their pain and hopes and look forward to a secure, prosperous, and stable Iraq with all sections of its people enjoying peaceful coexistence and accord, a country that enjoys independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. The Kingdom stood by Iraq since the first day of the crisis.

Saudi Arabia not only supported regional and international efforts to restore stability to Iraq, but also hosted in the vicinity of the Makkah Mosque the scholars of Iraq and Muslims from all their religious faiths to perpetuate the principle of dialogue among them and ward off sedition.

On the other hand, the Arab League deserves a credit for its initiative to organize the first conference to achieve national accord among all political, ethnic, and religious groups of the Iraqi people. God willing, the kingdom will continue its efforts at the Arab, regional, and world levels until fraternal Iraq enjoys security, stability, and the prosperity that it deserves.

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT: Large Saudi military maneuvers were recently conducted. Were these maneuvers part of routine procedures or did they have something to do with the tense climate in the region?

CROWN PRINCE SULTAN: I would like to assert to you that the recent exercise, which the Saudi forces carried out in the northwestern part of the kingdom, known as the Saif al-Islam exercise, was part of the Defense and Aviation Ministry's usual timetable.

The exercise was planned several months ago and a date to begin it was set in advance. The Saif al-Islam-6 exercise was conducted in the southern region. God willing, the next exercise will be carried out in another region next year because the armed forces have to be ready all the time.

The leadership in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is interested in making the armed forces ready and achieving coordination between all branches of the armed forces in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Proceeding from this fact, forces from the National Guard and Border Guard joined the air, land, navy, and air defense forces in the Saif al-Islam-7 exercise.

Therefore, I repeat that the Saif al-Islam-7exercise was part of regular training exercises that the Saudi armed forces conduct from time to time.

Following is an interview granted by Crown Prince Sultan on September 17, 2005 to the Associated Press (AP):

Crown Prince Sultan said Israel should withdraw from more occupied Arab lands after Gaza, indicating there can be no change in the collective Arab stand on Israel unless the occupation ends.

In an interview with the Associated Press, he said Arabs have reiterated their commitment to a just and lasting peace through the Arab peace plan, which Saudi Arabia initiated and Arab leaders adopted in 2002.

"We have followed the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza very closely," he said. "This withdrawal should be followed by further withdrawals from the Palestinian and Arab occupied territories since 1967, and lead to the realization of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital."

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who was Saudi Arabia's crown prince then, proposed a peace plan that was adopted by an Arab summit in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2002.

The plan calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the West Bank and traditionally Arab east Jerusalem, which would all be part of an independent Palestinian state. The Arabs also demand Israel give up the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria.

In return for Israel surrendering the territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war, Arab states have said they will offer the Jewish state normal relations and peace.

On the issue of UN reform, the Crown Prince expressed support for reforming the Security Council, expanding its membership and improving its effectiveness to be able to preserve international peace and security.

On Iraq, he expressed hope that the country will be able to overcome its differences. He stressed Iraq's links to the Arab world.

"The most important thing is Iraq's unity and Arab identity, as well as the reservation of its sovereignty, stability and territorial integrity and guaranteed rights for all Iraqis, regardless of sect or political affiliation," he said.

On the issue of fighting terrorism, the Crown Prince stressed that failure to reach an internationally agreed definition of terrorism should not prevent unity by the international community to fight terrorism.

On dealing with the phenomenon of extremism, he said dealing with it should not be confined to the mere security aspect of it, but should also include an intellectual approach.