Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

The world is full of conflicts and violence and as a consequence, there are more refugees, displaced people, human trafficking and civil causalities.

In contrast, Saudi Arabia is at least one country, which is known for its stability, prosperity and a unique lifestyle based on close relations among its society members and based on family values. It strives to ensure a secure life to its people.

This is one reason that has made the country one of the safest places to live in. These inherent social values and close family relations have become a positive reflection of how to look at others in need especially when they come from outside the Saudi border. One-third of the Saudi population is expatriates living and working in the Kingdom. This is why the Saudi establishment considers the refugee situation in the neighborhood unbearable, the number of which is reaching levels that it is becoming an international dilemma and a cause of internal stability issue for many countries. The refugee issue is one of the main topics of the latest UN summit.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif who is leading the Saudi delegation to the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York spoke at the summit for refugees and migrants. He outlined in his speech the Saudi efforts for the care of refugees.

In his main address at the UN on Wednesday, he said: The Kingdom was “one of the first” countries that suffered from terrorism, way before the deadly Sept. 11 attack in New York in 2001.

“Combating terrorism should be a ‘joint international responsibility’…we call for cooperation as per the international law and principles on which the UN was built, which equates the sovereignty of all nations,” the crown prince said. He also denounced the Israeli aggression on Palestinians and urged a two-state solution with Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine.

The crown prince also called for political solution to Syrian crisis and the implementation of Geneva I accord, which stipulates a transitional government.

On Yemen, he reiterated the Saudi position over UN Resolution 2216 requiring the Iran-backed Houthi militias and their allies to withdraw from areas they occupied in 2014. In addition, the crown prince met many world leaders and highlighted Kingdom’s global role.

Since UN’s establishment, as also other world organizations, Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront in making efforts by means of donations and other contribution for the cause of refugees and those who sought safer and better lives.

In his earlier speech on refugees, the crown prince presented statistics regarding the Kingdom’s role on refugees. Since its establishment in 1932 it has been a safe place for many from around the world.

The country has seen people streaming into the Kingdom following colonization of several Arab countries; it welcomed Palestinian refugees during the 1948 war between the Arabs and Israelis; took care of those fleeing Iraqis during the liberation of Kuwait in 1991; and during the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia again became a center of attraction for many who came for shelter.

But, there is something different in Saudi Arabia in the way we treat refugees or displaced people. We simply don’t call them refugees. We don’t build tent cities for them and make them isolated. They are living among us and with us as guests. Besides, the Kingdom takes all the burdens on itself without any UN or other international organizations’ aid. We pay for all the expenses from the Saudi national budget. Saudi Arabia has received millions of refugees from Syria and Yemen in the past few years. They are enrolled in our schools and being treated in our hospitals. The world still remembers the care we provided to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who were in the Kingdom for many years and later on many of them returned to Iraq and many went to other countries. The crown prince has stressed the point that Saudi Arabia has given more than $139 billion in assistance to others.

The refugee issue will indeed continue as long as there are wars and conflicts, but at least Saudi Arabia always goes the extra mile to lend a helping hand and to make great monetary contributions to various international organizations.

Saudi Arabia spends one of the highest per capita in the world to assist others in need. The UN efforts in this summit is a step in the right direction provided that all countries contribute their fair share and this is what Saudi Arabia had done for a long time.

The crown prince spoke with transparency and had all the facts about the Saudi contributions to make the world a safer place, more stable and more prosperous.

We Saudis hope the world needs similar spirit to implement all the agreements and pacts that the world organizations like the UN have reached to make the world a safer place to live in. They have to look closely for the well-being and care for the refugees.

They have been subject to all kinds of abuse and mistreatment and the summit had outlined all the obstacles and the measures to overcome them, but, only through collective efforts and genuine good intentions to help the refugees will the crisis be resolved.

In Saudi Arabia we don’t call them refugees, we call them guests.

Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Crown Prince Highlights KSA’s Global Role reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.