Defense Minister Prince Salman receives South Korea’s deputy minister of defense

King Faisal International Prize names winners

Infrastructure & environment forum activities start

11 million visited Saudi Arabia with total spending of more than SR25 billion

$13.3 billion to be pumped into Saudi stock market from abroad

Prince Khalid Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Makkah Region and Director General of King Faisal Foundation and Chairman of King Faisal International Prize's Commission, said that the Prize is a step taken by King Faisal Foundation to honor and support intellectuals and scientists.

This came in a speech delivered by Prince Khalid during the King Faisal International Prize 2012 award ceremony held this week in Riyadh.

The Prize's Secretary General Dr. Abdullah bin Saleh Al-Othaimeen announced the winners as follows: Suleiman bin Abdulaziz Al-Rajhi, for Service of Islam; Prof. Adnan bin Mohammed Al-Wazzan, for Islamic Studies; Egyptian Dr. Ali Helmi Ahmed Moussa and Egyptian Dr. Nabil Ali Mohammed, for Arabic Language and Literature; US Prof. Richard Berquits and US Prof. James Bruce, for Medicine; and U.S. Prof. Alexander Farzewski, for Science.

Prince Khalid pointed out that the Prize is not given according to any specific policy; but for efforts being made in the service of Islam, whether these efforts are made by politicians, businessmen, scientists or doctors.

In a press conference held in Riyadh this week after the announcement of the winners of the prize, he said in response to a question about women's participation in King Faisal International Prize, 'Women have won the prize and they have participated in and contributed to it.'

It is noteworthy that the Prize is awarded in five areas including the service of Islam, Islamic studies, Arabic language and literature, medicine, and science.

Since its inception in 1399AH corresponding to 1979, the Prize has been awarded to 216 winners from 40 countries.

Suleiman bin Abdulaziz Al-Rajhi of Saudi Arabia was declared the winner of the King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) in the services to Islam category.

The prize in Islamic Studies went to Adnan bin Mohammad Al-Wazin of Saudi Arabia.

In the area of Arabic language and literature, Egyptians Ali Hilmi Ahmad Moussa and Nabil Ali Mohammad shared the prize.

Dr. Richard Berkowitz and Dr. James Bruce Basil, both Americans, shared the prize for medicine and another American, Dr. Alexander Farzewski, won the science prize.

Meanwhile, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Defense received South Korean Deputy Minister of National Defense for Political Affairs Lim Kwan Bin and his accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, they reviewed the prospects of cooperation between the two friendly countries and ways of their enhancement.

The meeting was attended by Prince Bandar bin Salman bin Abdulaziz; Chief of General Staff General Hussein bin Abdullah Al-Qabil; and Director General of the Office of Minister of Defense Lieutenant General Abdulrahman bin Saleh Al-Bunyan.

The Minister of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance, and President of Supreme Council of Charitable Societies for the Holy Quran Memorization, Sheikh Saleh bin Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh, will deliver on Sunday checks of SR200 million to the Presidents of the Societies ordered by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Allah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for supporting the societies supervised by the Ministry.

On their part, the Presidents of the societies have expressed their thanks to and appreciation of the King for the financial support for the Charitable Societies for the Holy Quran Memorization.

A number of chairmen of charitable societies for the memorization of the Holy Quran have extended thanks and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for ordering to provide them with a financial assistance worth of SR200 million.

In statements on the sidelines of a ceremony organized by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call, Endowment and Guidance last Sunday to hand over the checks, the Chairmen of Charitable Societies stressed that the Royal order underscores the keenness of the leadership on disseminate and educate Allah's book, the Quran.

Meanwhile, under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Prince Turki bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz, General President of Meteorology and Environment Protection, inaugurated this week the activities of the International Forum of Infrastructure and Its Impact on Environment.

The three-day forum is being organized by the Saudi Environment Society under the supervision of the General Presidency of Meteorology and Environment Protection with the participation of 1,000 experts and researchers from the Kingdom, GCC states, and environmental organizations around the world.

Prince Nawaf bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz, Saudi Environment Society's Executive Director is also participating in this event.

Prince Turki bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz delivered a speech at the opening session of the forum in which he expressed his thanks to and appreciation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for his approval to hold this forum, noting that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is today one among countries friendly to environment through its programs and strategies in preserving environment and infrastructure projects.

During the forum, 13 agreements with mayors of Saudi cities will be signed to implement one of the most important national programs entitled National Program of Environment and Sustainable Development.

Meanwhile, a recently released report by World Tourism Organization (WTO) on inbound tourism in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has found that, in 2010, the country was visited by 10.9 million visitors.

During their stays, these visitors spent US$6.8 billion, compared with 10.9 million visitors who spent US$7.8 billion in 2009.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - according to WTO’s report which is titled: Measurement of international tourism - has acquired significant percentage that reached 17.8 per cent of the total of inbound tourism in the Middle East.

According to the report, Kingdom comes 2nd among the Arab countries and 22nd internationally among the countries that record high rates of visitors compared with 20th place it had reached in 2009.

The report also stated that, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranked fifth in the Arab World and ranked thirty-seventh internationally in the same year regarding tourism revenues compared with its thirty-first place during 2009.

On major indications of the international tourism movement during the first eight months of 2011, the report stated that, the number of tourists during the period, from January to August, 2011, have reached 671 million all over the world, reporting a growth of 4.5 per cent compared with the same period in 2010 as well as a growth of 11.3 per cent compared with the same period in 2009.

The number of international tourists during the same period has reported 69% of the total number predicted to the end of the current year.

On tourism movement in the Middle East, from January to August, 2011, the region has reported decline of 9.1 per cent, vis-à-vis period last year.

Among countries, Syria was the lowest reported country with -37.6 per cent followed by Egypt with -34.7 per cent, then Lebanon with -24.7 per cent, Jordan with -14.1 per cent, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has reported a significant increase of 88.3 per cent, followed with the United Arab Emirates of 7.9 per cent while Amman reported 12.4 per cent increase.

As for air flights, and according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the report has unveiled an increase of 6.3 per cent in air passenger movement on scheduled international airlines during the period from January to September, 2011, compared with the same period in 2010.

According to measurement of Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPK), the report predicted an increase in domestic air transport with 4.4 per cent, and an increase in international air transportation with 7.5 per cent compared with 2010.

The report also expected the rate of international tourists to increase to around four to 4.5 per cent by the end of 2011 with a significant growth in tourism movement in 2012 between three and four per cent slightly lower than it was in 2011.

Strong oil prices allied with an increase in crude production to boost Saudi Arabia’s foreign assets by nearly SR50 billion ($13.3 billion) in May and push them to their highest ever level, official data showed on Thursday.

Analysts said the increase in May and in previous months during 2011 indicates the world’s dominant oil power is earning more than spending and this means a budgeted fiscal deficit could turn into a surplus if crude prices remain high.

From SR1,806.7 billion ($482 billion) at the end of April, total foreign assets controlled by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), the Gulf Kingdom’s central bank, soared to a record high of SR1,856.2 billion ($495 billion) at the end of May, SAMA said in its monthly bulletin for May.

The increase meant that Saudi Arabia’s foreign assets swelled by a whopping SR140 billion in the first five months of 2011, the biggest increase in such a period of time, according to financial analysts in the country.

The surge was a result of a sharp rise in oil prices, which averaged nearly $109 in May, nearly $50 above Saudi Arabia’s budget forecasts. The country’s oil production has also risen to close to nine million bpd from around 8.3 million bpd through 2010 as the Kingdom sought to offset disruption of supply from Libya.

A breakdown showed SAMA’s deposits with banks abroad grew from around SR344.5 billion at the end of April to SR360.1 billion at the end of May. Investment in foreign securities swelled from SR1,267 billion to SR1,293.8 billion.

Foreign currencies and gold gained around SR3 billion to reach SR154.3 billion at the end of May compared with SR151.8 billion at the end of April. Other miscellaneous assets grew to SR24 billion from SR21.2 billion.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign assets have steadily grown in most of the past few years as a result of higher oil prices, gaining nearly SR135 billion through 2010.

They recorded one of their largest increases of nearly SR513 billion during 2008, when oil prices climbed to their highest annual average of nearly $95 a barrel. But a sharp fall in crude prices depressed them by SR139 billion in 2009 to widen the actual budget shortfall to nearly SR87 billion following a record high surplus of nearly SR580 billion in the previous year.

In 2010, the budget reverted into a surplus of SR109 billion after oil prices increased by at least $15 a barrel. For 2011, Saudi Arabia announced another record high budget of SR580 billion for 2011, with a deficit of SR40 billion.