King’s Speech Kindles Hope

The Royal Address yesterday, at the opening of the 1st session of the 4th legislative term of the National Assembly, touched upon various aspects which, I feel, have immediate relevance.

From national security to global terrorism, from youth empowerment to foreign investment, and from Bahrain’s growing economy to GCC-wide defence strategy, the law-makers were not only encouraged to look at the larger picture, but also to keep their main focus on collective growth; a growth that benefits the nation, the region and the world.

After the November 22 elections, as the Members of the Parliament sat together at the convening of the first session of the new four-year term, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa exhorted them to take the trust of the citizens very seriously.

Stressing the approval of the historical document National Action Charter by the citizens, of having paved the way for new robust laws, and for viable national reforms, he encouraged the newly elected body to strive to keep up Bahrain’s high global reputation.

His Majesty expressed a renewed hope in Bahrain’s strong future as he said youth would be encouraged to participate in the nation’s many decision-making processes.

Not only did he talk about qualitative development in education and health sectors, but also on the completion of 40,000 housing units which would soon benefit the needy.

The King’s speech is coming to us soon after the recently concluded Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit held at Doha, and just two days before we would celebrate this country’s National Day.

Of particular significance, therefore, I think is his reference to two important announcements from the GCC meet.

Firstly, the approvals of Bahrain as the headquarters of the Unified Naval Operations Centre, and secondly, the establishment at Abu Dhabi of the headquarters of the Gulf Police body.

This news brings to the light the special joint security work that the GCC states are embarking upon, by reinforcing the capabilities of police agencies of member states.

His Majesty also expressed his faith in the recent Riyadh agreement between the Gulf States saying, in effect, that all these will lead to stronger economic integration, and greater security unification.

On foreign policy, he highlighted Bahrain’s firm stand on the cause of the Palestinians – of a just, lasting, comprehensive solution to ensure the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, and for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Al Quds as its capital.

Strategic economic relations with friendly countries, he stressed, will go on undeterred, with mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s’ domestic affairs.

Though the project has been announced, it was for the first time that we heard His Majesty making direct reference to King Hamad Causeway, the second bridge that will soon link Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

He said that a railway connection will also be a part of the new causeway that is likely to strengthen economic integration and achieve social unity, by encouraging investment and increasing trade.

On various fronts, therefore, we can see that the country is on the move, and this speech of the king spurs us to work together with renewed vigour.

It kindles in us, a warm glow to keep aspiring, and to keep rising.