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A both a source of political leadership and of energy resources, Saudi Arabia plays a critical role not only in the Middle East, but in the world. And for over half a century, the kingdom has been a very important ally of the United States. So it's a great pleasure this evening to welcome our distinguished guest, the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States, His Royal Highness Prince Turki al-Faisal. The Ambassador has titled his talk Plying the Modern Trade Routes, and he will discuss the kingdom's role in an increasingly global economy. He began his tenure as ambassador to the United States in September of 2005, and like his predecessor, Prince Bandar is very well known to council members. Prince Turki comes to the United States after having served as Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Ireland, and was key leader of the Saudi National Intelligence Agency for 25 years. From 1977 to 2001, Prince Turki served as the director of the general intelligence directorate, and from 1968 to 1977, served as the agency's deputy director. His Royal Highness also served as a trustee of the King Faisal Foundation, and is chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. A former undergraduate at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he now serves as a member of the board of trustees at Georgetown Center for Contemporary Art Studies. The Prince is married to Her Royal Highness; oh I cannot possibly pronounce her name so you're going to have to do that for us. They have six children and one grandchild. Please join me in welcoming Prince Turki. My wife's name is Nouf. Thank you Miss Wales, and the World Affair Council of Northern California for inviting me to speak to you today. I am glad to be here in San Francisco, where in April of 1945, the conference on international organizations met, establishing the United Nations. The late King Faisal attended that meeting as the head of the Saudi delegation, and now here I am 60 years later, proud to be visiting our friends in this great city. The Bay Area is renowned for its education institutions: The University of California at Berkeley and Stanford among them. Incidentally, last night we had dinner at the University of California, Berkeley, and they had a group of young students who sang for us, and they sang a song that did not mention Stanford very well. Next time I visit Stanford I expect to hear the same song about Berkeley. The graduates of those universities have become great ambassadors for your great nation, and for the San Francisco 49ers in the kingdom. I have spent the last couple of months traveling around the United States, meeting Americans and sharing with them what is going on in Saudi Arabia today. I've talked of many things, from the war on terrorism to education. But one of the topics I've not discussed much is economic development in the kingdom. I believe San Francisco is an excellent place for this because of your city's history. After becoming an outpost for missionaries and traders in the late 1700s, San Francisco boomed after the California gold rush in 1848 and the discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859. The original economic development of your city derived from natural resources. What was pulled from the earth launched San Francisco into becoming an economic center and enabling it to become the great city it is today with a thriving technology industry and financial market. As I'm sure you can recognize, in Saudi Arabia, we have a similar sort. Our ancestors actually plied the ancient trading routes of the Arabian Peninsula. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was a trader who worked the caravan route between Damascus and Mecca, and an employee of a business woman, no less. While centuries of trade and religious pilgrimage were significant to Saudi Arabia's development, our nation changed because of our oil reserves. During the past few decades, oil enabled Saudi Arabia to build the infrastructure needed to support a modern society: Schools, roads, hospitals, and even entire cities. Some people have said, "As long as that oil keeps flowing out of the ground, Saudis will be living well." I can assure you, ladies and gentlemen, the oil will be flowing for a long while to come, but Saudi Arabia cannot live on oil alone. AS with the gold in your hills, we recognize that oil is a finite resource. Moreover, it is a commodity dependent on the movements of markets around the world. At times, prices are high, and at times, prices are low. To accommodate this fact, fiscal planning during the past two decades has helped control our government spending, and today King Abdullah is undertaking many initiatives that will secure our future. However, Saudi Arabia is also working to properly anticipate another factor: a burgeoning population. The boom years of the 1970s created wealth, and the wealth was used to develop the nation. Infant mortality rates dropped significantly, and life expectancy increased among Saudis. The government put into place a social welfare system that took care of our citizens from the cradle to the grave. Free education, free health care, interest-free mortgages for first time homebuyers, interest-free loans for small businesses, and subsidies for farmers. As a consequence, many Saudis began large families and had children who are now a part of the generation coming into the work force. We've known our oil alone was not going to create jobs for our youth, so we've had to ask some important questions. Where do we want to be? Where do we as Saudis want to be as a nation this year, next year, and ten and twenty years from now? And where do we want to fit into the global economy? Ladies and gentlemen, I will tell you. Saudi Arabia wants to become a full contributing member of the global economy. We want to see our citizens competing in the world, and we want to see our economic reform be a key driver of positive change in our society. Our citizens need to be educated. They need to be employed, and they need to make concerted contributions to the world community. The partnerships we've formed by working with others will build bridges of understanding between our cultures from generations to come. Our common business will underscore our common interests and common goals, and despite our different traditions, we must not forget that our desire for a better future for our children is an objective we all share. During the last 20 years, we have taken steps to accomplish this. In recent years, King Abdullah has overseen many efforts to diversify our economy and expand opportunities for our citizens so they may reach out to their global neighbors. Many of these steps have come to fruition lately, but we have been working on them for a long time. Allow me to explain to you briefly what we've done, where we are, and where we're going in the terms of development so you can see how we're moving to reach our goal of economic and social progress. During the last 30 years, the Saudi economy has expanded in size to become the largest economy in the Middle East and the world's 24th largest economy. As I have stated, we've made the progress despite a fluctuation oil market, and a population that has doubled between 1980 and today. Please, do not forget that Saudi citizens do not pay any taxes to the government, but still receive all the benefits and subsidies of a modern country. So, to boost our economy over the past ten years, the Saudi government has enacted 42 new laws and created nine new regulatory bodies aimed at streamlining commerce in the kingdom and opening up our system to increase investment. The cumulative outcome of our reforms from overhauling the Saudi patent office, to empowering Sygir, the entity that attracts foreign investment, has been clear. Last year, the World Bank ranked Saudi Arabia as the best place in the region to do business, so this brings us to today. Where is Saudi Arabia now? Currently we're experiencing an economic boom in our stock market, and we're now a member of the World Trade Organization. Some say the economic upturn is as result of oil prices, but I view our current performance as an affirmation of our citizens' confidence in the system. Over time, it will run through its cycles, as we have seen in recent weeks, but we have laid prudent groundwork. We haven't just thrown money to our problems. We didn't just make up a spending list. Ours has been a systematic approach to facilitate considerable investment opportunities for both overseas investors and the Saudi private sector. Many people understand this, and the market reflects it. Also strengthening our economy is Saudi Arabia's recent acceptation to the WTO. The path we've traveled to become a member began almost 13 years ago, and as they would say here in San Francisco, what a long, strange trip it's been. But we will be well served by it. Membership has resulted in a liberalized trade regime and a transparent and predictable environment for trade and foreign investment. This means more Saudi products will have opportunities in the global marketplace, such as petrochemicals and electronics, and it will also encourage more international investments and products to come to the kingdom, including pharmaceuticals and telecom services. This leads us to the Saudi Arabia of tomorrow, because WTO membership affects our future as much as it affects our present, and the kingdom is making substantial investments to take advantage of the opportunities now before us. One of our most significant moves intended to create jobs and increase foreign participation is the creation of the King Abdullah Economic City. This is a planned city on the Red Sea, which will contain all of the most modern facilities to take Saudi Arabia into the next generation of global business and trade. The project broke ground last December and will cost over 26 billion dollars. The city will feature one of the largest deep-water ports in the world for freighters moving between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean. It will also contain a financial island that will be home to the assets and funds of the world's biggest financial institutes, including banks, investment houses, and insurance companies. This will truly demonstrate Saudi Arabia's place as the largest economy in the region. In total, this new city, this mega project, is expected to create half a million jobs in various sectors, including education, health care, and information technology, and ladies and gentlemen, some 20 years ago, we were still building the basic infrastructure to allow Saudi Arabia to operate. Today we're building communications and observation satellites and launching them into space. Six of them will be sent up this year. Our aim is high, and we hope new investment will connect us on entirely new levels to the world around us. Currently, there are investment opportunities worth over 600 billion dollars available in Saudi Arabia in the next 15 years. These are in a number of fields, including expanding natural gas industry, growing IT, developing and mining and tourism sectors, and further privatizing state-owned corporations. Last May, a trade mission toured several cities in the United States to highlight these opportunities. I am pleased to extend an invitation to the Saudi-California alliance to lead a business delegation from California to the Kingdom to develop mutually beneficial and hopefully profitable commercial ties. Such a trip has been made easier by recently enacted initiatives regarding business visa regulation. The new law allows owners, investors, board chairmen, and directors of foreign companies to obtain visas without an invitation. The kingdom is making every effort to foster an environment friendly to business and to foreign participation. I hope none of these initiatives come as a surprise. Saudi Arabia did not spend decades fighting communism alongside the United States only to back away from free-market economy once we have won that fight, and a new light of changes in the world since the end of the Cold War. These economic reforms are more important now than ever. King Abdullah's vision for Saudi Arabia is to create a new world of opportunity founded on our common bonds with our partners around the globe and limited only by the imagination of our citizens. The language of trade and commerce is a powerful one, one that has the ability to connect people in ways no government can. In fact, the regular connection between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. was formed through business. Geologists from the California firm Chevron helped us survey for oil long before official government relations even existed between our two countries, and those ties developed many years ago have grown and prospered. Today, the kingdom is America's largest trading partner in the Middle East, and one of its largest trading partners worldwide. Two-way trade between our nations exceeds 25 billion dollars annually, and we hope to further increase it. Relationships formed on the basis of mutual benefit and personal bonds are the ones that last and allowed us to bring down misunderstanding, ignorance, and confusion. Our nations are stronger, better, and more prosperous because of it. Thank you, and God's Peace be with you. Thank you. Q&A