Celebrating the 84th National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, H.E. Ahmad Y. Al Barrak Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent a Congratulatory Message to BusinessKorea, which we have reprinted below.
The national day anniversary of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia comes at a time when the comprehensive development renaissance, the foundation of which were laid by the Kingdom’s Founder King Abdulaziz Al Saud, is continuing apace. Building on the intellectual, institutional, and management foundations laid by the Founder King, and guided by his ideas and practices in development planning and economic management, his sons and successors have continued the efforts that have resulted in remarkable achievements and successes, reflected in the continued rise of living standards, improvement in the quality of life, comprehensive construction and industrial renaissance, and advanced economic and social services throughout the country.
These achievements are eloquent testimony to 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, structural, socioeconomic advances have been achieved at both the macro and sectoral levels. The Saudi economy has gained enormous strength, increasing its ability to adapt to changes and developments and withstand global economic fluctuations.
At the macroeconomic level, the value of the GDP has greatly increased at constant prices. The steady growth has been accompanied by expanded use of advanced production technologies in many of the activities of the national economy, as well as by diversification of the economic structure and maximization of the role of the private sector. Successive development plans have created a climate that is conducive to the Saudi private sector, contributing increasingly to production, investment, export, and provision of employment opportunities for citizens.
Over the past years, the Kingdom has taken several important institutional and administrative development measures. These have included creating new economic entities and restructuring others, accelerating the pace of privatization, and adopting several sets of regulations aimed at controlling various aspects of economic activities, improving their efficiency, providing more incentives and guarantees to foreign investors, and simplifying and speeding up the administrative procedures relating to their activities.
Institutional and administrative modernization, development of regulations, and facilitation of procedures have led to a significant improvement in the business environment and to the attractiveness of the Kingdom for foreign direct investments. The volume of foreign direct investment increased markedly, so much so that the Kingdom has come to be at the forefront in the Middle East in this regard.
Considering the Saudi citizen to be the focus and the ultimate goal of development, the Government of Saudi Arabia has accorded special importance to human resource development. As a result, the education has grown remarkably to an unprecedented level.
Interests in the field of health care have also been keen. Hospitals, primary health care centers and supportive health care services expanded significantly, resulting in the availability of preventive and curative health services throughout the country.
Remarkably, when the development process of the Kingdom is examined, similarities in some important aspects between its beginnings, in the reign of the Founder King, and the realities of the moment become evident. The Founder King adopted modern methods for developing agriculture and water resources, as well as for the management of oil exploration, building transportation and communication networks, provision of educational services and health care, and building the institutions of the State utilizing the expertise at home and abroad. Following in the footsteps of the Founder King, the Kingdom seeks to expand the use of science and technology in all productive and service fields.
The Kingdom is also keen on transfer of knowledge and advanced technology through foreign trade and foreign direct investment as well as on seeking the help of experts and specialists from various advanced countries, and on increasing the numbers of people sent on scholarships abroad 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-based society. Thus, following a tradition of looking to the future set by the Founder King, his worthy sons are using development planning as an effective means for building the socioeconomic future of the Kingdom on sound, scientific bases.
I would also like to acknowledge the important diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea. These relations have been built from the start based on mutual respect and the understanding of common strategic interests. The seeds of cooperation were planted more than fifty years ago in 1962, when the two countries established diplomatic relations. Since that year, the two countries have worked closely together to expand relations through a variety of political, cultural, and economic channels as well as cooperation and coordination in various areas and at all levels.
Saudi-Korea bilateral relaions in the early stages witnessed a number of achievements with the participation of Korean experts and manpower in the Kingdom to modernize its infrastructure, mainly with the implementation of projects of roads, public buildings, water desalination, power generation, information technology, and many other industrial projects. 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. Those who review the economies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea, each country’s potential, as well as their status in the global economic system will not find themselves surprised at the solid Saudi-Korea partnership over the last 50 years, their capabilities to create a productive environment, and how they became members of the G20, the group of the economically richest countries in the world. The friendship between the two countries, similarities of policies and opportunities of available integration between the two countries enabled both governments to draw a roadmap of their bilatreal relations with specifications appropriate for both sides, and would help in making a later stage of the distinguished partnership by enhancing the yearly added value of such a relationship.
A number of agreements and committees that connect both countries, mainly the Saudi-Korea Joint Committee, assure the two countries continue to build a geunie partenership that does not exclude any activity, so that the bilateral cooperation would be comperhenssive and responssive to the interests of the peoples of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea.
In the field of trade, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the major trading partners with the Republic of Korea, where the Kingdom is the fourth largest trading partner to the Republic of Korea, while Korea is the Saudi’s fifth largest. There are many joint projects between the two countries and the size of the bilateral trade volume has increased over the last four years to reach US$47 billion in 2013 and US$23 billion in the first six months of 2014. Such extensive growth in trade relations has been attributed to complementary elements between the two countries.
Notably, both countries this year have made significant strides in the field of pharmaceuticals by signing memoranda of understanding for cooperation with the establishment of a Saudi-Korea Pharmaceutical Complex in Saudi Arabia. I believe that such MOUs between the two friendly countries will open the door of opportunity for both countries to further cooperate in the pharmaceutical field and introduce Korea’s superiority in this field in the Middle East region.
Furthermore, relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea have followed an important trend, thanks to the advantages of the Korean experiences in the field of education. A number of Saudi students have been enrolled in prestigious Korean universities, and the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission in Seoul has been opened, as the first Arab, Islamic cultural office accredited to the Republic of Korea, to guide and follow up the Saudi students’ education procedures. The number of Saudi students in Korea studying various majors has now reached over 300. Bilateral cooperation in the education field has been extended to interchange and cooperation among the universities of both countries.
Finally, we ask God Almighty to bless the efforts of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and his Crown Prince to raise the status of the Kingdom and ensure the happiness of its people.