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06-03-2010, 06:06 AM
Saudi Arabia: Shoura Council strongly condemns Israeli attack


By Md Rasooldeen
RIYADH, (Arab News): The Shoura Council has strongly condemned the brutal Israeli attack on a humanitarian flotilla that led to the deaths of at least 10 people on Monday.

At a meeting chaired by the council’s Vice President Bandar bin Mohammed Hajjar on Tuesday, members attacked the actions of Israel’s troops after they boarded the Freedom Flotilla, which was transporting aid to Gaza.

The flotilla was attacked in international waters, 65 km off the Gaza coast. Hundreds of activists were transported to Israeli detention centers and hospitals.

Denouncing the attack, Shoura members described the violence as a flagrant violation of international norms and warned that it would worsen the conflict in the region.

The house also called on the global community to protect the people of Palestine from similar acts and put pressure on Israel to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip.

The members also conveyed their condolences to the bereaved families and wished those who were injured a speedy recovery.

Meanwhile, the council’s Secretary-General Mohammed Al-Ghamdi said the house has started reviewing a plan to improve domestic tourism, presented by the council's committee on economic affairs and energy. The proposed plan aims to provide necessary tourist facilities in the Kingdom, said Al-Ghamdi.

Al-Ghamdi said discussions focused on a draft constitution for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), which has already been submitted to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.

Members said that there should be proper coordination between the government and nongovernmental organizations that offer tourist related activities and services.

They include travel agents, accommodation providers, transport agents, tour guides and airlines.

Members said the SCTA should enforce strict control over violations of regulations in the sector.

They also pointed out that the main purpose of promoting tourism is so the sector could be developed into a lucrative source of income for the national economy.

In March, Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman said the Saudi government was committed to developing the tourism sector, which would contribute to the growth of the economy and create more jobs.

The SCTA is implementing an ambitious plan with a target to increase the contribution of the tourism sector to Saudi Arabia’s nonoil GDP from 6.5 percent to 11 percent annually.