Riyadh, SPA: Ever since its establishment, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has worked in support of the unity of the Arabs, showing solidarity with them in the face of all dangers, challenges, and changes that the Arab region went through.
In pursuit of this unity, King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud and King Farouk of Egypt held a historic meeting in 1945, reaffirming support for the articles establishing the Arab League.
With King Abdulaziz's approval of the Alexandria Protocol, the Kingdom took its first step towards joining and supporting the Arab League, until, in 1945, it officially became one of the seven founding members of the league.
In one of his messages concerning the Arab League, King Abdulaziz affirmed that Saudi Arabia wants to witness the unity of the Arab countries based on solid foundations that meet the aspirations of the entire Arab nation, without placing one's interests above the common good, and that he believed that all risks that may harm the Arab interest should be avoided.
Following this approach, the Kingdom will host on May 19 the 32nd Arab League Summit, at a time of exceptional circumstances and challenges witnessed by the Arab countries, in particular, and the countries of the world, in general.
Since the first Arab League Summit held in Egypt in 1946 to the recent 31st Summit held in Algeria, the Kingdom has charted a strategic path for the diplomacy of Arab League summits and the historical participations in these events. The Kingdom has been consistently keen on coming up with effective solutions to all Arab issues, including the Palestinian cause.
Saudi diplomacy -- under the umbrella of the Arab League, which brings together Arabs to coordinate their positions on defending the common interests of members at regional and international levels -- has worked to strengthen the league's regional and international presence and to put forward and follow up on policies that strengthen Arab solidarity.
During the history of the Arab summits, the Kingdom hosted two regular and two special summits. At the invitation of the Kingdom, a mini extraordinary Arab Summit bringing together six Arab countries was held from October 16 to 18, 1976, in Riyadh with the aim of stopping the bloodshed in Lebanon, maintaining Lebanon's sovereignty, and rebuilding the country.
On March 28, 2007, the Kingdom hosted the 19th Arab Summit for two days. In the Riyadh Declaration issued at the conclusion of the summit, the Arab leaders stressed the need to act diligently to protect the Arab identity, boost its components and bases, and consolidate it in the hearts and minds of children, adolescents and young men and women.
On April 15, 2018, the Kingdom hosted the 29th Arab Summit in Dhahran. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud named it the "Jerusalem Summit" and stated: "All those far and near should know that Palestine and its people are in the hearts and minds of the Arabs and Muslims." The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also announced that the Kingdom would donate $150 million for the Islamic Endowment Support Programme in Jerusalem, and $50 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
In line with its responsibility for the security and safety of Arab countries, the Kingdom held the 12th extraordinary Arab summit on May 30, 2019, at Al-Safa Palace in Makkah. Chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the summit discussed Iranian interference in the region, following the attack that targeted commercial ships near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates, and the Houthi attack on two key oil installations in Saudi Arabia.
The Arab countries affirmed their solidarity and unity in the face of Iranian interference, as well as adherence to the decisions of the previous summit related to the Palestinian issue. They condemned Iran's interference in Bahrain's affairs, its influence on the unity of Syria, its occupation of UAE islands, and its support for terrorist groups.
Hosting the 32nd Arab League summit is testimony to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's leading role at regional and international levels, and to the keenness of its leadership to strengthen communication with leaders of Arab countries and encourage constant consultations and coordination of stances on issues of mutual interest.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hosted the Jeddah Security and Development Summit in 2022, in which the US also participated, and the Arab-China Summit for Cooperation and Development.
The 32nd Arab Summit will be held under exceptional circumstances in the region and the world. Regional and international crises and conflicts make it incumbent on Arab countries to find mechanisms through which they can face common challenges, promote regional security and stability, and achieve the wellbeing of their peoples. This requires better political coordination mechanisms, under the umbrella of the Arab League, promoting economic cooperation and boosting development in various areas that directly affect Arab citizens.
The summit will be held in light of the developments in the region and the world, and in support of the Kingdom leadership's efforts to achieve peace, security, stability and prosperity in the region, part of which were the agreement signed by the Kingdom with Iran to resume relations, under China's auspices, and initiatives to find a comprehensive political solution to the crises in Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The Kingdom also plays a pivotal role in supporting efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria in a way that preserves the country's unity, security and stability, and supporting its return to the Arab fold. These efforts have resulted in raising awareness about the importance of having a leading Arab role in efforts to end the crisis in Syria. Recently, Arab foreign ministers adopted the decision enabling Syria to resume its membership in the Arab League, after having been suspended for 12 years.
Saudi Arabia has decided to resume the work of its diplomatic mission in the Syrian Arab Republic, based on the Kingdom's belief that a political settlement is the only solution to the Syrian crisis, the ties that unite the peoples of the Kingdom and Syria, its keenness to contribute to promoting joint Arab action and enhancing the regional security and stability, and in response to the resolutions issued by the meeting of Arab foreign ministers on the return of Syria to the Arab League.
The return of Syria to its Arab fold will expedite bringing its crisis to an end, contribute to the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, and strengthen existing efforts to combat terrorism and eliminate terrorist organisations that threaten the security of Syria and other Arab countries. Its return will also stop drug smuggling and trafficking, enable state institutions to maintain sovereignty over Syrian territory, and put an end to foreign interference.
The Kingdom has always played a leadership role, at both Arab and international levels, in dealing with crises in the region, foremost among them the Sudan crisis. It has responded to the requests of brotherly countries to evacuate their nationals from Sudan, and carried out the first sea evacuation operations from Sudan.
As a part of the Kingdom's efforts to enhance Arab and regional security and stability, it hosted talks between the two conflicting parties in Sudan, in joint coordination with the US. The aim was to spare Sudan the consequences of the current conflict, seek to stop the bloodshed, find a mechanism for dialogue between the two sides, cement the ceasefire and facilitate humanitarian actions to build confidence between the two sides.
Realising the seriousness of the situation in Sudan, and wishing for the Kingdom to continue to exert a pivotal role in resolving Arab crises, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince have issued directives to provide assistance, including relief, humanitarian and medical aid at a value of $100 million, to Sudan through King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief). The Saudi leadership also gave directions for a fundraising campaign to be organised through the Sahem platform, with the proceeds going to alleviate the current situation faced by the Sudanese people.
Furthermore, the Kingdom has worked to communicate with all Yemeni parties to urge them to engage in dialogue with the aim of reaching a comprehensive political solution that contributes to achieving stability and development in Yemen. This is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to achieve peace, security and stability in the region, and an extension of the initiative announced by Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah in 2021 seeking to find a solution to the Yemeni crisis.
The convening of the 32nd session of the Arab summit will contribute to underlining the unwavering Arab stance, which denounces the illegitimate Israeli practices that undermine finding a solution to the Palestinian crisis. The Israeli practices undermine the chances of achieving a fair and comprehensive peace on the basis of the two-state solution that will see the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with international legitimacy, resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.
The Kingdom is leading the effort to activate and develop joint Arab work mechanisms and reform the League of Arab States, to ensure that it plays a more effective and vital role. Saudi Arabia also looks forward to enhancing Arab partnership, to achieve economic integration and political coordination on all international issues, and boost the Arab influence and role in international politics, economy, culture, and social and development arenas.
Economic and trade relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Arab states have already started to grow.
According to 2021 statistics, the Kingdom’s oil exports to Egypt, UAE and Bahrain amounted to SAR28.9 billion, SAR18.9 billion and SAR17.9 billion, respectively. Djibouti and Jordan followed with SAR6.12 billion and SAR4.8 billion, respectively.
Saudi Arabia oil exports to Yemen, Morocco and Sudan amounted to SAR2.9 billion, SAR2.5 billion and SAR1.8 billion, respectively. The Kingdom exported SAR0.8 billion worth of oil to Iraq, SAR0.7 billion worth of oil to Kuwait and SAR0.6 billion worth of oil to Oman. Saudi oil exports to Lebanon, Libya and Qatar totalled SAR0.2 billion, SAR0.03 billion and SAR36 million, respectively.
The Kingdom exported SAR4.6 million worth of oil to Somalia, SAR1.9 million worth of oil to the Union of the Comoros, SAR483,329 worth of oil to Mauritania and SAR413,136 worth of oil to Tunisia.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s non-oil exports to UAE, Egypt and Bahrain amounted to SAR37.6 billion, SAR9.8 billion and SAR8.4 billion, respectively, according to 2021 statistics.
Jordan and Kuwait followed next, with SAR6.9 billion and SAR6.7 billion, respectively.
Non-oil exports of Saudi Arabia to Yemen, Oman and Iraq amounted to SAR4.8 billion, SAR3.8 billion and SAR3.05 billion, respectively.
Total non-oil exports of Saudi Arabia to Arab states amounted to SAR93 billion?????.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's imports from Arab countries stood at: SAR40.8 billion from UAE, SAR8.3 billion from Bahrain, SAR7.6 billion from Egypt, SAR6.7 billion from Oman, SAR5.0 billion from Jordan, SAR1.8 billion from Kuwait, SAR1.28 billion from Sudan, SAR0.8 billion from Yemen, SAR0.59 billion from Lebanon, SAR0.38 billion from Qatar, SAR0.17 billion from Somalia, SAR0.13 billion from Algeria, SAR0.07 billion from Iraq, SAR0.5 billion from Morocco, SAR0.3 billion from Tunisia, SAR81 million from Djibouti, SAR0.0007 billion from Mauritania and SAR0.0003 billion from Libya.
Saudi Arabia’s main exports to Arab countries include chemicals and polymers, building materials, petrochemicals, heavy and electronic machinery, vehicles and spare parts, consumer products, precious metals, precious jewelry, and food products. Saudi Arabia's main imports from Arab countries include textiles, minerals, paper, wood, and foodstuff.
According to the latest statistics of the Saudi Aid Platform, various sectors of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia implemented 2,667 projects in Arab countries, at a total cost of $44,630,975,996, distributed as follows: Yemen 1,103 projects at a value of $10,695,112,060, Syria 342 projects at a value of $1,287,738,670, Palestine 271 projects at a value of $5,186,317,716, Sudan 162 projects at a value of $1,648,992,888, Somalia 138 projects at a value of $328,336,406, Lebanon 114 projects at a value of $2,665,449,178, Jordan 77 projects at a value of $1,175,656,895, Mauritania 65 projects at a value of $1264,422,353, Djibouti 63 projects at a value of $357,397,034, Egypt 61 projects at a value of $14,002,887,290, Iraq 60 projects at a value of $585,603,985, Morocco 51 projects at a value of $1,212,992,191, Tunisia 47 projects at a value of $1,688,308,384, Algeria 35 projects at a value of $427,486,817, Comoros 32 projects at a value of $100,464,258, Bahrain 17 projects at a value of $1,923,349,987, Oman 14 projects at a value of $74,860,247, Libya 9 projects at a value of $4,734,571, Qatar 5 projects at a value of $4,734,571, and Kuwait 1 project at a value of $693,333.
Regarding the share of Arab workforce in the Saudi labour market, 2022 statistics of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development showed that 3,491,354 Arab nationals of countries member in the League of Arab States work in the Kingdom. A breakdown by numbers shows that 1,252,047 are from Egypt, 1,151,992 from Yemen, 683,811 from Sudan, 157,579 from Syria, 82,071 from Jordan 44,098 from Morocco, 37,794 from Palestine, 31,416 from Lebanon, 22,924 from Somalia, 15,231 from Tunisia, 6,966 from Mauritania, 2,838 from Algeria, 1,655 from Iraq, 675 from Djibouti, 133 from Comoros, 30 from Libya, 28 from UAE, 26 from Kuwait, 19 from Bahrain, 12 from Oman and 9 from Qatar.
According to statistics of the Ministry of Education, 9,245 Saudi students of both genders study on scholarships in Arab countries, as follows: 3,320 in Egypt, 2,001 in Kuwait, 1,590 in UAE, 1,363 in Jordan, 809 in Bahrain, 35 in Sudan, 30 in Oman, 29 in Morocco, 21 in Algeria, 20 in Lebanon, 16 in Tunisia and 11 in Qatar.
Also according to statistics of the Ministry of Education, for the academic year 2023, 12,500 students of both genders from countries member in the League of Arab States study in Saudi public universities, as follows: 3,842 from Yemen, 1,944 from Syria, 1,262 from Egypt, 1,025 from Palestine, 901 From Sudan, 833 from Jordan, 424 from Somalia, 312 from Iraq, 307 from Kuwait, 286 from Bahrain, 264 from Morocco, 254 from Algeria, 169 from the Comoros, 162 from Libya, 124 from Djibouti, 105 from Mauritania, 92 from Lebanon, 88 from Tunisia, 65 from Oman, 28 from UAE and 13 from Qatar.
In the field of cultural and knowledge exchange, Saudi Arabia and Arab League member states have launched several cultural programmes and initiatives. Among them, is cooperation with the Sultanate of Oman to raise awareness about the importance of the Arabian leopard, natural reserves and biological diversity, through holding conferences and joint training courses; holding cultural activities with the Ministry of Culture and Youth in the UAE, such as the visit of archaeologists and workers to Mleiha archaeological site last October; increasing cooperation in the field of museums with Qatar; participating in workshops on the mechanisms and concepts of the World Heritage Convention, held by the Arab Regional Centre for Heritage in Bahrain in March 2022.
The Kingdom also borrowed artefacts from Al-Sabah archaeological collection in Kuwait, and displayed them at the Islamic Arts Biennale that was held in the Pilgrims Hall in Jeddah from January to May 2023.
In the framework of cultural cooperation, Iraq was chosen as a guest of honour to the Riyadh International Book Fair 2021; several Iraqi publishing houses participated in the fair. The two countries are also working on preparing a draft executive programme concerning heritage, aimed at cooperating to register the Darb Zubaydah (Zubaydah's trail), one of the ancient pilgrimage routes, as a cross-border site in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Moreover, the first field and aerial survey of the Saudi and Iraqi sites was carried out, and the first project management workshop was held for the joint team of the two countries, in addition to holding a forum on the Zubaydah trail in the city of Faid, in the Hail region, with the participation of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), from November 24 to December 3, 2022, which was accompanied by a group of scientific workshops, including a scientific programme on the historical and civilisational role of the Zubaydah trail from the city of Kufa to Makkah.
A memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the cultural field was also signed with Egypt on the sidelines of the Conference of Arab Culture Ministers, held in Riyadh in December 2022, in addition to the existing cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and the Academy of Arts, through the cultural scholarship programme. The Kingdom was also keen to participate in several festivals and events in Egypt during 2022.
The Ministry of Culture organised a Saudi cultural week in Jordan on September 12-15, 2022. The ministry also participated in the ceremony launching a project to develop the lands adjacent to the Baptism site, and the International Centre for the Aqaba Reserve project, which was organised by the Jordanian side, in addition to participating in several Jordanian festivals and exhibitions.
The cultural cooperation between the Kingdom and Djibouti came in the shape of multiple meetings between the Saudi Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Youth and Culture of Djibouti to discuss ways of cooperation between the two sides.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced an initiative to protect the archaeological sites in the Republic of Yemen, as the Old Walled City of Shibam, the Historic Town of Zabid in Hodeidah, and the Old City of Sana'a were three sites listed by UNESCO as being vulnerable to the hazards from war. Other sites were added later.
The Kingdom also assists with several projects that support heritage sites in conflict areas in the Republic of Sudan through its membership in the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH).
The Kingdom hosted the Republic of Tunisia at the Riyadh International Book Fair as a "guest of honour" in 2022. The Kingdom was also hosted as a guest of honour at the Carthage Film Festival in the same year. The Ministry of Culture, represented by Ad-Diriyah Biennale Foundation, and the National Institute of Heritage in the Republic of Tunisia cooperated in the "Islamic Biennale" project.
A memorandum of understanding in the cultural field was signed with the Kingdom of Morocco on the sidelines of the meeting of ministers concerned with cultural affairs in the Arab world, in Riyadh, in December 2022.
In the field of youth and sports, the Kingdom signed cooperation agreements with the Arab Republic of Egypt, the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, the Republic of Tunisia, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Republic of Sudan, the Republic of Iraq, the State of Kuwait, and the Republic of Djibouti. The Kingdom also signed a memorandum of understanding with UAE to enhance cooperation in sports, and a cooperation agreement with UAE Sports for All Federation under the umbrella of the Saudi-UAE Coordinating Council, in October 2022.