This year’s anniversary of the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia comes at a time when the comprehensive development renaissance, based on the foundation laid by the Founder His Majesty King Abdulaziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, continues apace. Building on the intellectual, institutional, and management foundations established by the Founder King, and guided by his ideas and practices in development planning and economic management, the sons and successors of the Founding King have continued the efforts that led to the remarkable achievements and successes in all fields, which has been reflected in the continued rise of living standards, improvements in quality of life, comprehensive construction and industrial renaissance, as well as the advanced economic and social services throughout the country. These achievements are the clear testimony on the effectiveness of the developmental approach that has been adopted by the Kingdom; an approach that combines scientific planning, targeted rationalization, and continued support for private sector within the framework of economic freedom and individual initiative.
Over more than three decades, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has achieved remarkable advances in its structural and socioeconomic fields, both at the macro and micro levels. The Saudi Arabian economy has now gained enormous strength and has increased its ability to well adapt to the changes and embrace developments, capable of withstanding global economic fluctuations.
Thanks to the modernization of institution and administration as well as the development and facilitation of regulations and procedures, the Kingdom has witnessed a significant improvement in its business environment and, thereby, enhanced its attractiveness to foreign investors. The volume of the foreign direct investment in Saudi Arabia has increased markedly, placing the country at the forefront of the most attractive investment destination in the Middle East.
Focusing first on the people of Saudi Arabia as the ultimate goal of the country’s development, the human resources policy has gained great importance and has been in accord with the Kingdom’s renaissance in its comprehensive development. As a result, education and training have grown to the unprecedented level, owing to the keenness of the Government to provide all the requirements needed for human resource development. Special attention and extensive interests on the health of citizens have been coincided with the attention to education and training.
Remarkably, when the development process of the Kingdom is examined, there, indeed, are clear similarities in some important aspects between the early days of Saudi Arabia-in the reign of the Founder King-and the current period. The Founder King adopted modern methods for developing agriculture and water resources, management of oil exploration, building transportation and communication networks, provision of educational services and healthcare, and building the institutions of the country with national and foreign expertise while dispatching Saudis abroad to be specialized in various fields. Following the footsteps of the Founder King, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been, and is, eager to expand the use of science and technology in all productive and service fields, and to transfer knowledge and advanced technology, through trade and foreign direct investment, as well as experts and specialists from advanced countries. There are an increasing number of Saudis sent overseas on scholarships to acquire modern knowledge and expertise. In furtherance of this trend, the Kingdom has made great strides and has begun to move towards carrying out mega-projects, in its quest to lay the foundations of a knowledge economy and an information society.
More than fifty years have passed since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea in 1962. Since then, the relations between the two countries are witnessing a qualitative leap and amazing developments that have extended to all fields; political, economic, culturral, educational, military, health and others. Such developments are responsive to the policies and principles stipulated in mutual agreements, talks, and mutual visits by officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea. Such efforts made the two countries’ relations one of the most important international relations within half a century. The mutual relations have been characterized by sincerity, honesty and commitment to all that have been agreed upon, without seeing problems or misunderstanding when carrying out these promises and agreements.
With the establishment of the Saudi-Korea diplomatic ties in 1962, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia opened in Seoul in 1974 as the first Arab Embassy in Korea. The Saudi-Korea bilateral relaions in the early stages had witnessed a number of achievements, with the participation of Korean experts and manpower in the Kingdom to modernize its infrastructure, mainly with implementation of various projects for roads, public buildings, water desalination, power generation, information technology and many others. This was, indeed, quite enough to make Korea more qualified − thanks to its companies, experts, and well trained manpower − and thereby to win a significant share of large-scale projects carried out in the Kingdom. It also paved the way to conclude more deals between the two countries to carry out such projects, based on the needs of the Kingdom and the requirements of its development. In other words, the Saudi-Korean relations have been “full of singularity,” as described by His Excellency Former President Lee Myungbak during a meeting with Saudi businessmen last year in Riyadh.
Recent economic and trade data well confirm that the size of trade between the Kingdom and Korea has reached fifty billion dollars for the year 2012. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest trading partner to the Republic of Korea, while Korea is Saudi’s fifth largest one. There are more than 129 joint projects, where the Kingdom has recorded the highest rate for contracts for construction projects with the value of US$119 billion till May 2013.
Those who review the economies as well as the potentials and the global economic status of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea will not be surprised at the solid Saudi-Korean partnership of over a half a century, and their capability to create a productive environment as witnessed by mutual cooperation between the two countries, and how they became the members of G20, the group of the richest economies in the world. The friendship between the two countries, the similarities in policies and chances of the two countries’ available integration enabled both governments to draw a road map of their bilatreal relations with specifications appropriate for both sides, and help in making a larer stage of distinguished partnership by enhancing the yearly value added of such relationship.
A number of agreements and committees − mainly, the Saudi-Korea Joint Committee − that connect both countries assure the two countries to build a geunie partenership that does not exclude any activities, which leads the bilateral cooperation that is comprehenssive and responssive to the interest of the peoples of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea.
The bilatreal relations in the political domain have also witnessed similaraties in views regarding their positions towards the global issues and developments over the last 50 years.
Such achievements shows the assurance and the willingness of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea to sustain and support such relationship with the desire of sides to develop mutual relations in line with the principle of mutual benefits, interests, and common policies that combine both countries.