March 10, 2015 / 5:20 PM / 3 years ago

King Salman pledges to maintain stability, create jobs

Saudi Arabia's King Salman is seen during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Erga Palace in Riyadh January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said he would fight corruption, diversify the economy and confront anybody who challenged the stability of the world’s top oil exporter in his first big speech since taking power on Jan. 23.

His speech, carried on state television, 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.

Addressing 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 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.

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

Salman also reassured 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.

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

King 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.

Reporting by Ali Abdelaty in cairo and Sami Aboudi ini Dubai; Writing by Angus McDowall

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