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SAUDI ARABIA - INTRODUCTION 
Leadership in a new business era
LIKELY TO REMAIN AS THE BIGGEST NET OIL EXPORTER FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE, SAUDI ARABIA IS MAKING CLEAR THAT IT IS DETERMINED TO KEEP UP WITH GLOBALIZATION. A YOUNG, MODERN NATION OF LEADERS, IT IS INCREASINGLY ACTIVE ON THE WORLD STAGE.


President George W. Bush meets recently crowned Abdallah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, formerly First Deputy Prime Minister, in Crawford, Texas, in 2002.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia occupies 80% of the Arabian Peninsula, and is ranked the fourteenth-largest country in the world. It has the largest reserves of petroleum on the planet, and is likely to remain the world’s biggest net oil exporter for the foreseeable future. Discovered in 1938, with the help of U.S. research, this oil wealth has helped to transform the kingdom into a powerful and dynamic economy.

Saudi Arabia’s history reveals a model of strong leadership: its founder, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, took control of the capital city Riyadh in 1902 and proceeded to unite the various tribes of the region into an internationally-recognized nation state over the following 30 years. Known as Ibn Saud, the nation’s first king has been referred to as ‘the outstanding Arab ruler of his time’. His foundations for the country were based on a strong commitment to the Islamic faith and respect for traditional culture and history, combined with the will and energy to adapt to the technological developments of the modern world.

His successor, the recently deceased King and Prime Minister Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, also prioritized modernization, making clear that Saudi Arabia was not going to lag behind in the inexorable move towards globalization. An influential figure on the world stage, King Fahd pursued peace through diplomacy, helping to achieve reconciliation among Arab nations and seeking peaceful resolutions for crises in Islamic and non-Islamic countries alike.

The current King, former King Fahd’s half brother, Abdallah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud became Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister in 1982, and has supported privatization as a strategic choice for the continued development of the kingdom. As a result of this, the Supreme Economic Council was created in August 1999 to boost investment, combat unemployment and promote privatization, and in January 2004, the Saudi cabinet approved a reduction in taxes on foreign direct investment (FDI).

Other notable figures in the Saudi political and business arena include Crown Prince Sultan Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Second Deputy Prime Minister since 1982 and Minister of Defense and Aviation since 1962, whose work has helped make Saudi Arabian Airlines into a world-class carrier, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the kingdom’s former Ambassador to the U.S. and a powerful instigator of U.S.-Saudi trade and commerce.

This lineup of accomplished leaders are contributing to showcase Saudi Arabia as a modern nation in the international community; a nation that aims to improve life for its citizens while taking a prominent, active role in world affairs.