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MAYÊ 2011Ê ISSUEÊ 47Ê VOLÊ 6Ê Ê

MayÊ 2011Ê IssueÊ 47Ê VolÊ 6Ê

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ISSUEÊ 47Ê MAYÊ 2011

PAGEÊ 2Ê SAUDIÊ AUSTRALIAÊ BULLETINÊ

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The King Abdullah traveled the world, including a historic visit to the Vatican, to preach a message of dialogue among cultures and religions; and Saudi Arabia is among the major donors to most organizations under the UN, the OIC, the Arab League, the GCC and bilaterally. It was among the biggest donors to Haiti. It spends one of the highest percentages of GNP toward unconditional aids to other countries. Saudi oil policy is based on constructive moderation and cooperation, where the most important fundamentals are availability and reliability, particularly when global demand calls for increasing production. The country’s role as a moderating force in its region, and the world at large is not limited to oil. Invariably, Saudi Arabia’s foreign policies have taken the middle road, the common ground and an inherent worry of dogmatic ideology. In the fifties and sixties of the last century, it was Saudi Arabia that carried the burden of facing up to communism and extreme nationalism in the region. It was Saudi Arabia that was singled out, over and over, as a friend of the United States of America when such a label carried a heavy political price. In the core question of Palestine, Saudi Arabia has advocated a peaceful settlement to the conflict, a peace between equals. This was advocated in the Fahd Plan that was forwarded by Saudi Arabia in 1981; and again when King Abdullah presented to the Arab Summit in Beirut in 2001 a peace plan that was adopted by the summit and remains the most solid and far reaching peace stand on the table now. At present Saudi Arabia is part of a new and rapidly changing world landscape. The whole world is at a crossroad. There is a global economy propelled by an accelerating revolution in information technology that is transforming societies and cultures and undermining many of the landmarks of national societies. There is a continuing sense of an ecological crisis, compounded by the fear of new epidemics. There has been the collapse communism on a world scale, sparking announcements that the world had now entered a new era of history.

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The flux is nowhere more complex than in the so called developing world, where the challenges of poverty, debts, drugs, corruption, political and social despair make it even more imperative that the forces of the new world be clearly understood. In the midst of their efforts to cope, understand and find their own answers to the questions of our age, Saudi Arabia and countries like it, are exposed to a relentless and aggressive view that advocates that these developments do not represent just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human society. Saudi Arabia is a country faced with many challenges and has to confront its own problems. The accomplishments and failures of Saudi Arabia, the world it shares with others, the social and intellectual depth of its Muslim identity and ideals, form the ingredients of the road map of Saudis’ search for answers. Saudi Arabia takes issue with the notion that liberal democracy is the ideology of modernity par excellence. That it is much more important to see how to institutionalize the values of equality, fairness, equal opportunities and justice drawing from its Islamic heritage rather than copy paste systems that rest on the assumptions of secularism and rationalism.

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SAUDIÊ AUSTRALIAÊ BULLETINÊ PAGEÊ 3Ê

KingÊ AbdullahÊ withÊ SecretaryÊ GeneralÊ ofÊ theÊ UNÊ BanÊ KiÊ Moon

Saudi Arabia has called for accelerated negotiations to achieve the goal of much-needed reforms of UN institutions, especially the UN Security Council, citing significant changes in the world over the last 60 years. “There must be real reforms of the UN Security Council, not mere cosmetic changes here and there,” said head of the Media Section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Osama Nugali. Nugali was speaking prior to a major ministerial meeting of UN member states to be opened in Rome. He said the Kingdom’s delegation at the UN conference would be led by Nizar Obaid Madani, minister of state for foreign affairs. The Rome meeting has the mandate to discuss expansion of the Security Council, with emphasis on the need for consensus in deciding reforms of this apex 15-member UN body. Asked about the Saudi position on UN reforms, Nugali said Riyadh supports the call for reforms to secure broader membership of the Security Council to improve geographical representation, promote transparency, avoid application

of double standard and ensure the adoption of measures to enhance the credibility of its work. “We want real reforms of the UN institutions including the Security Council … we don’t want any mechanical reforms,” he added. “We are happy to share our views and interact with countries as well as global institutions in this regard.” He said there should be reforms with an aim to make the Security Council more representative and more transparent as the council is the only body that can demand and enforce action on the global level. Saudi Arabia has been of the view that tremendous global changes and the magnitude of challenges facing the international community today make imperative a reevaluation of the structure and mechanisms of the UN, with the aim of enhancing its capabilities for conflict resolution and prevention in order to preserve world peace and security. The Kingdom has been one of the largest contributors to different UN agencies through the years. Not only this, Saudi Arabia made an unprecedented contribution of $500 million to the UN World Food Program to respond to rising food and fuel prices a couple of years back. Also, Riyadh has been consistently supporting the campaign for real reforms of the UN institutions including the UN Security Council. In fact, “The Security Council reform is the most fundamental and difficult of all UN reform issues,” said a European diplomat, adding that real negotiations to reform the UN Security Council may begin this year.

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ISSUEÊ 47Ê MAYÊ 2011

PAGEÊ 4Ê SAUDIÊ AUSTRALIAÊ BULLETINÊ

Saudi Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand Mr Hassan Talat Nazer hailed the outcome of the four-day visit of New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which ended today and stressed that this visit bolstered the bilateral strategic relations between the two countries. In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Ambassador Nazer said the meetings and talks held by the Foreign Minister of New Zealand and the members of his accompanying delegation with Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Abdul Latif Al-Zayani and other officials.had dealt with a range of topics and issues in spheres of economy, trade, education and agriculture. He added that the friendship between the two countries is demonstrated by the 7,000 Saudis studying in New Zealand, including over 4,500 students on the King Abdullah Scholarship Program. “Education is emerging as a cornerstone of the bilateral relationship, and New Zealand and Saudi Arabia are now actively exploring joint research and science opportunities,” The GCC is already New Zealand’s sixthlargest trading partner and exports to the region grew by 122 per cent between 2000 and 2009, with the UAE established as New Zealand’s second-largest market among the Gulf nations. “Services exports, while harder to quantify,

Gov.Ê PrinceÊ Salman,Ê AmbassadorÊ NazerÊ ,Ê MinisterÊ MurrayÊ McCullyÊ

ForeignÊ MinisterÊ PrinceÊ SaudÊ Al-Faisal,Ê MinisterÊ MurrayÊ Ê McCully have also grown substantially, particularly in the education and professional services fields, and over 7000 students from the Gulf are now studying in New Zealand,”

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SAUDIÊ AUSTRALIAÊ BULLETINÊ PAGEÊ 5Ê

Australia is gradually becoming one of the most popular overseas destinations for Saudi students. Australia and Saudi Arabia enjoy friendly and cooperative relationship, which has traditionally been based on extensive trade relations as well as people-to-people contact. They also share a strong common interest in ensuring the security and development of the Gulf region. A large number of Saudi students are choosing to study in Australia, mostly under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program. In 2009 they AmbassadorÊ HassanÊ NazerÊ withÊ SaudiÊ StudentsÊ inÊ Australia numbered 12,500 in Australian educational 170 nationalities has enriched Australia and its culture, and institutions in a wide range of fields including health, information technology, business and ac- that can work to the advantage of Saudi and other students. counting.Australia, which is committed to expanding its Saudi students have since been choosing to study in Ausstrong and growing trade and investment relationship tralia. There are over 3,000 Australian expatriates employed with Saudi Arabia and other countries of the GCC, has in Saudi Arabia, mainly in health, education and other spebeen calling for more Saudi students to head for that cialist areas, and their positive interaction with Saudis is also contributing to more Saudi students preferring to study in country for both English learning and other subjects. There is a scope for Australia to develop the bilateral Australia, especially in the state of Victoria. relationship with this key Gulf state, an official at the Victoria is a major international education destination ofAustralian Embassy says. Australians enjoy a good repu- fering qualifications recognized around the world. The edutation in the Kingdom for competence and tolerance, cation system in Victoria attracts students from Saudi Arawhich is acting as a catalyst for attracting Saudi students bia and other parts of the globe. Victoria offers government and private schools, ranging from boarding schools and day to their country. During the visit of an Australian trade delegation to schools to religious schools, girls schools, and boys schools. Riyadh in December 2010, former Australian Prime There are seven independent Islamic schools in Victoria, all Minister Bob Hawke who headed the mission urged the of them offering prep, primary and secondary level educaSaudi government to send more Saudi students to Aus- tion. Nine universities, eight of them public, and a number tralia for higher studies, as it has the “most conducive of government accredited private higher education providers deliver higher education in Victoria. environment” for receiving proper education. “Australia is a highly competitive country economically Around 45 percent of Saudi students in Victoria pursue adwith a quality education system, which means that Sau- vanced studies in world-ranked universities in and around dis wishing to study in Australia can depend on a safe Melbourne, while a further 39 percent are enrolled in inand secure society, quality education of world standards tensive English language courses, many in preparation for and friendly people,” said Hawke. The blending of about prestigious university courses.

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ISSUEÊ 47Ê MAYÊ 2011

PAGEÊ 6Ê SAUDIÊ AUSTRALIAÊ BULLETINÊ

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The Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (AACCI) inaugural Australia Arab Business Forum & Expo held in Melbourne on May 5 & 6 was an outstanding success that exceeded the expectations of all participants and supporters. Over 300 VIP guests, overseas trade missions, delegates, sponsors, supporters and exhibitors attended the event and all praised the Forum & Expo’s organizers led by Conference Convenor and AACCI Director Peter Deacon for the program content, quality of presentations, exhibition and social networking functions. “The event was the most ambitious project ever undertaken in the history of AACCI and by every measure, it achieved ± and exceeded ± all our expectations and strategic / business objectives,” said AACCI National Chairman Mr. Ray Najar. “In fact the response was so overwhelming and immediate that the AACCI Board agreed and announced it would make the Australia Arab & Business Forum & Expo an annual event and Sydney will be the host for 2012.” The Forum & Expo got underway the evening of Wednesday the 4th with a special networking function hosted by The Hon Richard Dalla-Riva MLC, Minister for Manufacturing, Exports and Trade. In welcoming the Forum & Expo to Victoria, Richard Dalla-Riva said it was most appropriate for the State to host the event as its pro business, innovation focus and multicultural population reflected the aspirations and values of AACCI. The mission of the Forum & Expo was the promotion of trade and investment opportunities and for the next two days, participants gathered to hear and learn from overseas and State / Federal Members of Parliament; business experts and professionals; attend and participate in workshops; talk to theexhibitors; network and

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exchange experiences knowledge and insights. To open the Forum & Expo and commence the formal proceedings, Mr. Najar was joined by The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, Councillor Robert Doyle, City of Melbourne, The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs via video message, The Hon Martin Ferguson AM, Minister for Resources & Energy, Minister forTourism, HE Reem Ibrahim Al Hashimi, Minister of State, United Arab Emirates, Mr. Peter Anderson, Chief Executive, Australian Chamber of Commerce &

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SAUDIÊ AUSTRALIAÊ BULLETINÊ PAGEÊ 7Ê

Ind, Mr. Kym Hewett, Consul General & Senior Trade Commissioner, Australian Consulate General, Dubai, The Deputy Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Australia Mr Reda Alnuzha, Mr. Usamah M Al-Kurdi, Member of Economic and Energy Affairs Committee, Saudi Arabian Majlis Ash Shura (Parliament),Senator The Hon Nick Sherry, Federal Minister for Small Business chaired the Banking and Investment session, the first of the day’s main platform presentation program. Mr. Najar continued, “The entire speaker, workshop and exhibition program was carefully crafted to provide attendees with an insight into a broad spectrum of business and investment opportunities in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).” “An array of Australian and international main platform speakers outlined their views and analysis on growth industries and for building future business prospects and bilateral trade opportunities with the countries of MENA.” The Conference Dinner was another highlight and the attendees appreciated the speakers ± Mr. Ahmed Fahour, Chair, Council for Australia-Arab Relations and CEO, Australia Post; The Hon David Davis Victorian Minister for Health & Minister for Ageing, Mr. Andrew Parker, Senior Vice President, Emirates and Senator The Hon Nick Sherry ± and enjoyed the virtuoso performance and

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entertainment of the Three Waiters. The Hon Dr. Craig Emerson MP, Federal Minister for Trade provided the opening address for Day 2. Mr. Najar formally concluded the landmark Australia Business Forum & Expo ended with a Forum Review session that included HE Doug Trappett, Australian Ambassador to UAE and Qatar and AACCI CEO Ms Cynthia Dearin. Ms. Dearin closed the Forum & Expo by outlining three key messages for delegates to consider ± Change Challenge and Opportunity. “Australia and the countries of MENA are all undergoing rapid profound change and this is being reflected in social, cultural, political, demographic, legal / regulatory and trade transformation. Today, the emerging markets and the countries of the Arab world are contributing more to global GDP than ever before.” “Change invariably brings challenge with more fluid markets, shifts in trade patterns, relationships and the need to more closely understand and appreciate the cultural and social differences of our respective markets.” “But in this environment of change and challenge ± opportunities abound both for the economies of MENA and Australia. Australia has an abundance of expertise in education, manufacturing, engineering, construction, technology & science and financial services. All of which are in high demand by the countries of the Arab world.” “The economies of the Arab world are a source of sovereign wealth that Australia can access to fund its infrastructure and energy needs, now and for the future.” “The foundation required to convert the challenges to opportunities is dialogue and better understanding of each other that will bring the different cultures together to generate long term mutually beneficial solutions and outcomes.” “This is a long term process and we at AACCI are proud to have played a significant part in bringing this about through the inaugural Australia Arab Business Forum & Expo,” concluded Ms. Dearin.

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ISSUEÊ 47Ê MAYÊ 2011

PAGEÊ 8Ê SAUDIÊ AUSTRALIAÊ BULLETINÊ

Arab Gulf investors own exclusive addresses and real estate in New York and London; the same can’t be said of Sydney, Melbourne, or Perth. But there are signs this trend could be about to change. Officials from the Arabian Gulf including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, home to the region’s largest sovereign-wealth fund, visited Australia last month as part of a trade delegation and were upbeat about prospects for investment. “It’s a really undeveloped relationship,” said Michael Yabsley, chief executive of the Australian Gulf Council, which promotes trade, investment and cultural interests between Australia and Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab EmiratesÐt he six states that comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council. “By comparison with the relationships with China, the U.S. and the U.K., ours with the Arab Gulf states is at a very early stage.” Certainly, Australia’s government in Canberra has placed building stronger trade and investment links with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf as a key priority. Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has become a frequent visitor to the region, which accounts for about four billion Australian dollars (US$4.2 billion) of two-way trade, and has opened talks with Abu Dhabi over the sale of uranium to fuel its landmark nuclear-power program. Arab brands such as Emirates Airline have also become more familiar to Australian consumers thanks to sponsorship of major sports including cricket and the Australian-rulesfootball team Collingwood and a growing number of scheduled flights here. Dubai’s ruling Maktoum family has a long history of investing in Australia’s finest horse-racing bloodstock. According to Mr. Yabsley, agricultural land is among

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the top asset classes in Australia being considered by Gulf investors who have placed food security at the top of their priorities. This trend has already started with Qatar recently acquiring a tract of agricultural land and food-processing facilities in New South Wales, but given the vast areas of farmland available in Australia these investments remain relatively small. To be sure, barriers to more investment from the Gulf remain. The sale by debt-laden Dubai’s DP World of its remaining stake in container-services firm P&O Trans Australia along with the disposal of its other Australian operations to Citi Infrastructure Investors for US$1.5 billion sent the wrong signal about sentiment moving forward. Of course, not all investors are welcome in the context of the political upheaval under way across the region. Sons of Libyan leader Col. Moammer Gadhafi were frequent visitors, but Australia’s government has so far uncovered no assets. The mood of the Foreign Investment Review Board, which vets significant overseas acquisitions, will be a point of anxiety for Gulf investors. The board’s rejection of the Singaporean bid to take over Sydney-based stock-market operator ASX Ltd. on grounds of national interest highlights the risk of how such deals can quickly become politicized.

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47 May 2011  

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