Saudi Arabia Government and Politics

Since Abdulaziz Ibn Saud gathered most of the Arabian Peninsula in 1932, Saudi Arabia has been a monarchy and a unified state monarchy according to The country’s founder got 45 recognized sons, many of whom have characterized the government. Six of these have succeeded him as king and leader: Saud, Faisal, Khalid, Fahd, Abdullah and Salman. The succession is based neither on formal rules nor an established tradition, and the king in effect appoints himself his crown prince and heir, as well as the government. The king also has the title “protector of the two holy cities,” which refers to Islamtwo holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, located in Saudi Arabia. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of SA and its meanings of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia Country Flag

Reference: Saudi Arabia Flag Meaning

Land area 2,149,690 km²
Total population 34.173.498
Residents per km² 15.9
Capital Riad
Official language Arabic
Income per capita $ 54,500
Currency Saudi rial
ISO 3166 code SA
Internet TLD .sa
License plate KSA
Telephone code +966
Time zone UTC +3
Geographic coordinates 25 00 N, 45 00 O

Constitution and the judiciary

Saudi Arabia has no ordinary constitution, but in 1992 was given a set of governing principles which, among other things, establish some of the citizens’ duties and rights, and that the kings of the country should be direct descendants of Ibn Saud. The first article proclaims that the country’s constitution is Islam.

The law is thus essentially not codified, and the country should in principle be governed by Islamic law, Sharia. In most cases, the conservative Islamic Hanbali law school is followed. In addition, the king can issue laws in the form of royal decrees, often dealing with matters not covered by Islamic law, such as traffic offenses.

The judiciary is dominated by the conservative religious establishment. The Supreme Judicial Council comprises 11 members and is the supreme court. It oversees the other courts, makes statements in cases submitted by the Minister of Justice and otherwise makes statements on legal issues. Furthermore, there is a court of cassation, headed by the Supreme Court Justice, a number of general (public) courts and special courts, including business law. Several civil laws have been introduced.

Saudi Arabia practices corporal punishment, including whipping, amputation and execution by decapitation.

Political system

The king holds legislative, executive and judicial powers. In 1993, the country received a national consultative council (Majlis al-shura), which since 2005 has 150 members. The members are appointed by the king and sit for four years. In 2013, female members were first appointed, and around 20 percent of Council members have since been women. The Council can initiate legislation and oversee government policy.

Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 administrative regions, which are again divided into districts. Governors, most often members of the royal family, are appointed from a central position. In 2005, for the first time elections for about half of municipal councils were held. In 2015, women had the right to vote in elections for the first time. Political parties are not allowed and the elected municipal councils have little influence.

Saudi Arabia Head of Government

Institutional organization and internal politics

Saudi Arabia is a strongly authoritarian monarchy based on a strict application of the Koran, on the Basic Law of 1992 and on an interpretation of the traditionalist Islamic religion (Wahhabi of Hanbalite school) transposed into the public life of citizens: conditions that guaranteed the monarchy absolute powers. The country has been ruled since 1932 by the al-Saud family, founding family of the so-called modern Saudi state. Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud is the ruler, who ascended the throne of the country in January 2015 following the death of his brother Abdullah.

In the Saudi political system, the intertwining of politics and religion is inseparable and refers to the dictates of Wahhabism. Although state powers are concentrated in the hands of the royal family, the monarchy would not be able to exercise firm control over the administration without the support of the ulama, the religious elite entrusted with the interpretation of sacred texts and exercising their own influence on many aspects of public life.

The judicial system is entrusted to men of the clergy who have studied Sharia law at one of the country’s royal Islamic universities. In 2007, a reform in the administration of justice was introduced which provides for the establishment of two specialized courts, competent in commercial and labor law, and a Supreme Court of Appeal. In the kingdom, which houses the two sacred cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, the Muslim religion regulates all aspects of public and private life and is officially professed by the entire population. The law, on the other hand, obliges citizens to practice the Muslim religion and denies freedom of worship.

Most Saudis are Sunni, while 10-15% are Shia. The Saudi Shiites reside in the eastern provinces of the kingdom and, strongly described by the central government, they continue to remain on the margins of society, public administration, politics. In addition to the Shiite community, religious freedom is not tolerated against Sufi, Jewish and Christian minorities.

As for political rights, the law prohibits the establishment of parties, as well as any other form of dissent, demonstration, political and trade union associations, but admits the existence of some consultation tools. The Majlis al-Shura, the Advisory Council established in 1993, is made up of 150 members – including businessmen and representatives of the tribes -, assists the king, has very limited powers, and plays a mostly ceremonial role.

In 2006 the late King Abdullah established the Council of Fidelity, composed of the senior princes, with the aim of reducing conflicts within the royal house of al-Saud and establishing clear mechanisms of monarchical succession, in order to avoid possible friction., if not fractures, within the complex Saudi machine of succession to the throne.

You may also like...