Jun 19 2012
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Crown Prince Salman: Well prepared to serve the nation
Crown Prince Salman has long worked at the heart of government in a range of important roles. Most significantly, for nearly 50 years he was the Emir of Riyadh region until he relinquished the post last year, in order to succeed Prince Sultan as Defense Minister. During his time in charge of the Kingdom's capital, Riyadh underwent a remarkable expansion to become a pulsating modern city of nearly five million inhabitants.
What was notable about Riyadh's transformation was the care that he lavished on creating a major urban center which still retained a human scale. The danger of urban sprawl, lacking both social and infrastructural cohesion has been seen all too often in other rapidly growing economies. As Emir of Riyadh, Prince Salman's vision and insistence on proper planning largely overcame this risk. Thus, for instance, Riyadh is furnished with five large parks and gardens and surrounded by international award-winning country parks. The capital has a Dry Port which is linked to Damman by rail and within a few years, its modern highway network will be complemented by a high-speed mass transit railway.
With such long and detailed experience in the administration of the complexities of a major city, which sits at the heart of governance in Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Salman brings to his increased responsibilities, a thorough knowledge and understanding of government. This has already been demonstrated by the vigorous way in which he has taken up the demanding portfolio of the defense ministry. From this experience and dedication springs the strength of continuity and stability, which will help to guide the Kingdom in the coming years.
Much has already been said of Crown Prince Salman's personal simplicity and modest tastes. It is very clear that his strong sense of duty has guided his long career at the center of government, and can be expected to continue to inform it.
International media always go to great lengths speculating on the "reformist" or "conservative" credentials of all senior Saudi figures. It is a facile exercise, which entirely overlooks the remarkably consistent transformation that the Kingdom has been undergoing in the last 20 years, a transformation indeed which, under King Abdullah, has been accelerating as we continue to build a viable non-oil economy. New cities and industrial zones are being built in one of the world's largest ever expansions of infrastructure.
Crown Prince Salman, as the man in charge of Riyadh and as a constant and close member of the country's government for many years, has been an enthusiastic supporter of this progressive change. Indeed because of his achievements with the growth of the capital, he is eminently well-qualified to understand the challenges of the ambitious infrastructural program.
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