Saudi Cabinet stresses decisive measures to stop Syria slaughter

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques approves decision by Higher Education Council

Crown Prince Naif receives UN award for Saudi Arabia’s contribution to build homes for Palestinians

Aramco ready to pump 10 million bpd

Saudi Arabia ranks fourth globally in sovereign wealth funds, 17th in protection of investors

The 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 the messages, discussions and consultations he made over the last few days with a number of State leaders and State envoys on bilateral relations and latest regional and international developments, including the meeting he held with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain and the discussions he held with President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also briefed the Cabinet on the audiences he held for the Guests of Al-Janadriyah and General James N. Mattis, Commander of U.S. Central Command.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session, Dr. Youssef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, Minister of Social Affairs and Acting Minister of Culture and Information, said the Cabinet expressed appreciation and thanks to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for his generous care and concern for supporting the cultural activities and cultural march in the Kingdom and the Arab world as well as promoting the inventors and talented in the scientific fields.

In this regard, the Cabinet noted the King's patronage of the 27th National Festival for Heritage and Culture in Al-Janadriyah, stressing the important contents of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' speech during the audience he held for the guests of Al-Janadriyah in which he gracefully voiced the Kingdom's welcome for every human being who cherishes his faith, homeland and Arab and Muslim nations.

The monarch pointed out that the world’s trust in the United Nations has, no doubt, shaken due to its failure in dealing with the Syrian crisis.

In his speech, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stressed that States, be what they may, could never rule the world which should otherwise be ruled by reason, justice and moral principles.

The Cabinet lauded the announcement of winners of the fifth version of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques International Prize for Translation and the King's decision to raise the value allotted for translation entities from SR500,000 to SR750,000 and that appropriated for individuals from SR250,000 to SR500,000 for more encouragement for translation works.

The Minister said the Cabinet then reviewed a number of reports on the latest developments at the Arab arena, lauding the Arab Foreign Ministers Council's statement this week voicing new measures and arrangements to solve the Syrian crisis.

In this regard, the Cabinet stressed that further firm measures should be taken following the failure of half solutions to stop the massacre in Syria which has been escalating beyond any glimmer of hope that might alleviate the sufferings of the brotherly people of Syria and stem the bloodshed.

The Cabinet welcomed Tunisia's bid to host a conference for Syria's Friends scheduled for Tunis on the 24th of February 2012.

The Cabinet also welcomed Doha Declaration signed between President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine and Khalid Mishaal, Chairman of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) regarding the Palestinian national reconciliation, hoping that this positive step will contribute to implementing what has been agreed upon in a way that consolidates Palestinian national unity and speaks to the aspirations of the brotherly Palestinian people.

Dr. Youssef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen said the Cabinet then continued the discussions of its agenda and issued the following decisions:

The Cabinet approved a proposal to expand the duties of the Standing Committee for Implementation of mutual legal assistance applications to include the applications coming from foreign countries or those issued by the Kingdom to those countries covering all kinds of crimes.

The Cabinet added the Minister of Culture and Information and a representative of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) as members of the board of directors of King Abdulaziz Foundation.

The Cabinet also raised the number of members of the board of directors of King Abdulaziz Foundation from five to ten.

The Cabinet appointed Dr. Abdullah bin Hussain Al-Qadhi, Eng. Amer bin Abdulhameed Al-Dlijan, and Dr. Faisal bin Mohammed Ameen Al-Tamimi in addition to members from public and private sectors to the membership of the National Committee for Geographic Information Systems for three years, effective the date of enforcing this decision.

The Cabinet authorized the President General of Youth Welfare, or his deputy, to discuss and sign with the Albanian side a draft cooperation agreement in the field of youth and sports between the General Presidency of Youth Welfare of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports of the Republic of Albaniaa.

The Cabinet authorized the Governor of General Investment Authority, or his deputy, to discuss and sign with the Vietnamese side a draft agreement between the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the government of the Republic of Vietnam on encouragement and reciprocal protection of investments.

The Cabinet approved a number of appointments of high-ranking government officials and transference of one official as follows:

1- Jamal bin Ibrahim Nasif is appointed to the post of 'Minister Plenipotentiary' at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

2- Fahd bin Ahmad Al-Mansoori is appointed to the post of 'Minister Plenipotentiary' at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

3- Majed bin Abdullah Al-Majed is transferred from the post of Deputy Director General of Water in Riyadh Region for Finance and Administration Affairs (rank 14) to the post of Director General of Finance and Administration Affairs (rank 14) at the Ministry of Water and Electricity;

4- Omran bin Ali Al-Omran is appointed to the post of Deputy Director General of Water in Riyadh Region for Finance and Administration Affairs (rank 14) at the General Directorate of Water in Riyadh Region;

5- Abdullah bin Ali Al-Aqeel is appointed to the post of Director General of Companies (rank 14) at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

King Abdullah, the Premier and President of Higher Education Council, has approved a number of decisions adopted by the Council in its 68th session.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Anqari has pointed out that the decisions covered the establishment of colleges, institutes and centers in some universities; draft Memorandums of Understanding between Saudi and foreign universities; assignment of vice rectors and renewal for acting vice rectors and members of teaching staff; and annual financial reports of some universities.

On this occasion, the Minister of Higher Education has expressed his thanks to and appreciation of the King and the Crown Prince for their unlimited support for higher education institutions.

Meanwhile, UN-Habitat has named Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, as the winner of its newly instituted Outstanding Donor Award for his crucial support to the Special Human Settlements Program for the Palestinian People.

Since 2003, the Saudi committee has been the most important donor for various Palestinian projects.

The announcement was made by UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos at the meeting of the first Advisory Board of the Special Human Settlements Program for the Palestinian People with representatives from more than 20 countries at the UN headquarters in New York.

The meeting also reviewed present and future UN-Habitat activities in support of the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian communities through the contributions to the Special Human Settlements Program for the Palestinian People and the Technical Cooperation Trust Fund.

A special Saudi committee headed by the prince has been the most important donor for various Palestinian projects. The Kingdom’s Permanent Representative at the UN Ambassador Abdullah Al-Muallami thanked the Habitat Program for awarding the prize to the prince, which he rightly deserved, the Saudi Press Agency said.

“Saudi Arabia will spare no effort in offering every kind of assistance to the Palestinian people in a bilateral manner or through UN funds and programs or regional or international establishments,” he said in his statement.

Clos will visit the Occupied Territories at the end of March and attend the first Palestinian Urban Forum, which will focus on the sustainable urbanization challenges.

The President of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Ahmed Muhammad Ali announced last week the IDB’s interest in supporting UN-Habitat's Palestinian programs such as the Participatory Slum Upgrading Program and the Palestine Housing Program.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabian Oil Co. plans to re- open the Gulf kingdom’s oldest oil field and produce there for the first time in 30 years as the company boosts output of heavy crude, the Economist Intelligence Unit said.

The state-owned producer, known as Saudi Aramco, may revive a plan from 2008 to restore production at the mothballed Dammam field, the EIU said in a report.

Dammam contains some 500 million barrels of oil and may yield as much as 100,000 barrels a day of Arabian Heavy crude, according to the report.

“Dammam field including Dammam Well 7 can operate easily with current technology and Saudi Aramco conducted a 3-D seismic survey over the entire area almost 10 years ago,” Sadad al-Husseini said by e-mail. Al-Husseini was executive vice president for exploration and development at Saudi Aramco.

Dammam field today is surrounded by metropolitan areas and Husseini said if the field is re-activated, he’s sure Saudi Aramco will do it “in the most modern, environmentally sensitive and professional manner that least affects the adjacent community.”

Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, is considering redeveloping the onshore field in response to “tight market conditions,” the London-based researcher said in a report. It shut Dammam, and several small fields, in the early 1980s due to low demand.

Saudi Aramco shut in the entire Dammam field, including Dammam Well 7, in the early 1980s because oil demand dropped in the first two years following the Iranian Revolution in 1979 from 10 million barrels a day to as low as 3 million barrels a day, Husseini said.

“We simply didn’t need small fields like Dammam, and in fact shut in fully or partially many other fields including Khurais, Khursaniya, Qatif, Abu Hadriya, Harmaliyah and several others,” said Husseini who founded and runs Husseini Energy, an independent energy consultant in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, which holds the world’s largest proven oil reserves, pumped 9.65 million barrels a day in January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The country discovered its first commercial quantities of oil at Dammam Well 7, known as the “Prosperity Well,” in 1938. Dammam 7 produced about 32 million barrels of oil before it closed, Aramco Chief Executive Officer Khalid Al-Falih said May 19 in Washington, D.C.

Aramco is also speeding up a project to increase capacity for heavy crude at the Manifa field in the Persian Gulf. Additional production from Manifa, the world’s fifth-largest oil field, will help maintain Aramco’s maximum sustainable oil production capacity at 12 million barrels a day, Aramco said in June in its 2010 annual review.