Saudi Arabia’s newly appointed second deputy Prime Minister Prince Muqrin Bin Abdulaziz told Al Arabiya in a special interview Tuesday that King Abdullah has ordered the government to strengthen and develop various social programs as part its policy of proximity with citizens.
Prince Muqrin said those programs will affect sectors such as healthcare, education, housing, and unemployment. The second deputy prime minister, who is also an advisor to King Abdullah, added that the government seeks to employ more information technologies in developing its programs and advancing communication with the public.
“King Abdullah advised us to look after citizens to the extent that he was sometimes tough on ministers, urging them to supervise citizen’s affairs and resolve all problems,” Prince Muqrin said.
He pointed out that technology has helped make major strides in areas like education and public administration, where the use of telecommunications technologies has reduced red tape and cut the processing time of paperwork.
The kingdom has sought to improve skills and computer literacy and aims to become a regional hub of knowledge-based industries.
In the 2009 budget report, the government signed off a $3.1 billion plan to improve the education system by equipping schools with advanced telecommunication means to compete in scientific and technological activities, according to a report by the Global Information Society Watch.
The kingdom also allocated more than $2 billion to provide teachers with computer training and launched an e-government bilingual (Arabic and English) program.
“When we began the development, the rate of using computers was very low, but now this has expanded a lot,” Prince Muqrin said.
“We are going through a very delicate time in the region. What is happening now is very painful, especially the falling innocent people,” he added.
“What is taking place in the countries around us does not please anyone, and what is happening in Syria is not in the interest of Syria or its people,” the prince said, he also questioned events in Egypt and political parties that benefit from the crisis there.