Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed gives annual royal speech on behalf of King Salman

Prince hails tourism growth and highlight's kingdom's role in pushing for Gaza peace

Saudi Crown Prince delivers his first annual royal speech on behalf of King Salman

Saudi Crown Prince delivers his first annual royal speech on behalf of King Salman
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has delivered the annual royal speech on behalf of King Salman for the first time on Wednesday.

The speech inaugurated the work of the 150-member Shura Council, in its fourth year, and addressed the kingdom's progress as well as the war in Gaza.

It acts as a road map for Saudi Arabia's domestic and international plan, council member Sheikh Abdullah Al Sheikh said.

Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia had pursued a foreign policy based on respect for the sovereignty of all countries, non-interference in their internal affairs and permanent commitment to international legitimacy.

The kingdom hosted a number of major summits that brought together more than 100 countries last year and worked to create an Arab and Islamic movement to stop Israeli aggression against Gaza, he said.

More than 21,100 people have been killed in Gaza since October 7, when Israel launched an air and ground campaign in retaliation for an attack led by Hamas that killed about 1,200 people.

In November, Saudi Arabia hosted an extraordinary joint Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh with the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation and the Arab League.

The summit was held to address “the painful events facing our brothers in Gaza, through which the kingdom worked to create a joint Arab and Islamic movement to put pressure on the international community to take serious and firm stances to stop the Israeli aggression and allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza”, Prince Mohammed said.

The summit adopted a final resolution that said: “We express our joint stance in condemning the brutal Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, including Al Quds Al Sharif.

“We affirm addressing together this aggression and the humanitarian catastrophe that it causes.

"We seek to stop and end all Israeli illegal practices that perpetuate the occupation and deprive the Palestinian people of their rights, especially their right to freedom and to have an independent sovereign State on all their national territory.”

The summit was also Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's first visit since Riyadh and Tehran reached a rapprochement deal in March, ending seven years of severed ties.

Vision 2030 and tourism

Prince Mohammed also hailed Saudi Arabia's economic progress under its Vision 2030 plan.

Riyadh's selection to host Expo 2030 “confirmed global trust in Saudi Arabia as an ideal host for the world's most prominent international forum”, he said.

Saudi Arabia hosted the Future Investment Initiative in October, which brought together 5,000 delegates from 90 countries.

Prince Mohammed also pointed to the kingdom's growing tourism sector.

“Our country achieved historic performance in tourism, during the first quarter of 2023, growing by 64 per cent, and we will continue to work on the process of economic transformation in accordance with the goals of the Vision 2030,” he said.

Visitors from 120 countries attended the World Tourism Day event in Saudi Arabia in September.

He said that the kingdom had advanced in many sectors, “including its progress in more than 50 per cent of the UN sustainable development indicators".

Prince Mohammed also hailed the successful handling of the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages to the Islamic holy cities this year.

The kingdom welcomed more than 1.8 million who performed Hajj and more than 10 million Umrah pilgrims in this year, he said.

“Your country is continuing its development renaissance in accordance with Vision 2030 and its ambitious programmes, which, God willing, will contribute to the kingdom maintaining its advanced position globally, achieving further development and prosperity, and providing a decent life for citizens,” he said.

Last year, King Salman, 87, delivered the annual royal speech. This is the first year that his son has stood in for him.

Prince Mohammed, 38, is seen as representing the new generation of Saudi Arabia.

He became Crown Prince in 2017 and Prime Minister last year.

Updated: December 27, 2023, 7:30 PM