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King Salman Pledges to Battle Corruption, Create Jobs

  • Reuters

In this photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi King Salman delivers his first major policy speech since assuming the throne in the al-Yamama palace, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 10, 2015.

In this photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi King Salman delivers his first major policy speech since assuming the throne in the al-Yamama palace, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 10, 2015.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman said Tuesday that he would fight corruption, diversify the economy and confront anybody who challenged the stability of the world's top oil exporter.

In a televised address, his first major speech since taking power Jan. 23, Salman focused on the need to create private-sector jobs for young Saudis, a main policy goal for many years as Riyadh strives to meet a looming demographic challenge while controlling public spending.

Referring to the chaos threatening the kingdom from around the region, he said no one would be allowed to tamper with Saudi Arabia's security or stability.

He said Saudi foreign policy would be committed to the teachings of Islam, and he spoke of a move toward greater Arab and Islamic unity to face shared threats, as well as a continued focus on working with other countries against terrorism.

Salman also pledged to maintain Sharia, emphasizing the central place of Islamic law in the kingdom, in a nod to the powerful clerical establishment that confers religious legitimacy on the unelected ruling dynasty.

The king sought to reassure Saudis about lower oil prices, noting the historically high revenues of recent years and saying the government would reduce the impact on development projects and continue to explore for oil and gas reserves.

Speaking to young Saudis of both sexes, he said the state would do all it could to help develop their education at prestigious universities to help them get jobs in either the public or private sector.

Salman added that he had directed the government to review its processes to help eradicate corruption, a source of dissatisfaction among many Saudis, alongside concerns about expensive housing and joblessness.

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