Saudi Arabia Political System
Short for SA by Abbreviationfinder, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy and an Islamic state. The Qur’an forms the basis for both political administration and justice. Power is gathered with the numerous and extremely wealthy royal family of Al Saud. Political activities are prohibited.
Saudi Arabia lacks a regular constitution and elected legislative assembly. The Qur’an fulfills the constitution’s function as Islam’s sacred writings are considered to specify both civil rights and the forms of state administration. Since 1992, however, there are written rules for the country’s state of affairs. They are based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law, Sharia, and contain certain individual rights. The political rights that exist are very limited.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Saudi Arabia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The regulations also state that Saudi Arabia is a monarchy where the king is entitled “The Guardians of the Two Sacred Places” which refers to the cities of Mecca and Medina. The throne was owned by descendants of straight descendants to state founder Abd al-Aziz (or Abdulaziz) Al Saud (see Modern History). He died in 1953; King Salman who took office in 2015 is the sixth of his sons on the throne. Salman, like the representative Abdullah (King 2005–2015), was in his 80s when he took office. At the next change of throne, the next generation is expected to take over and thus a rejuvenation occurs. King Salman’s son Mohammed bin Salman was 31 when he became crown prince in June 2017. The
King is the head of state, head of government, supreme interpreter of the law and chief religious leader. He rules according to sharia, which cannot be changed. However, the king can issue rules on issues not covered by Sharia and interpret vague regulations. The king’s power is limited by the requirement for a consensus between society’s foremost groups, an endeavor in line with Islam and also with the principles of Bedouin society.
There is a ministerial council (government) consisting of over 20 ministers and advisers. Council members are appointed by the King, who is also the head of government. The Crown Prince is also on the council.
Since 1993, there has also been an advisory congregation, majlis al-shura, to represent various social groups and provide the governing councils. The 150 members are now appointed by the King for four years at a time. The congregation has gradually become more active and has since 2003 been entitled to propose new laws. Since 2013, there are also female members of the council, and in a decree, the then King Abdullah ruled that 30 seats – one fifth – would be women’s weight for all time.
In 2005, another cautious step was taken in a democratic direction, with half of the seats in the country’s municipal councils being elected. However, the right to vote was restricted to male citizens. But in accordance with a royal decree, women got to both vote and stand when a third round of municipal elections were held in 2015. Now two-thirds of the seats were eligible. The Council assemblies, which were previously unable to make decisions but merely submit proposals for higher places to consider, have also been granted certain financial and administrative powers.
Saudi Arabia lacks domestic politics in the Western sense. Political parties are prohibited and it is forbidden to publicly criticize the state. In practice, all regime criticism is criminal. The country can almost be characterized as an expanded clan society, ruled by the royal family, which has become exemplarily rich through the oil. The state is basically run as a family business. This system bases its legitimacy on an 18th-century alliance between political and religious power (see Modern History).
The royal family’s decision is rooted in the religious scholars, ulama, who, through statements called fatwor, determine what is right and wrong. A fatwa is built on religious law. This system has created conflicts, for example when King Faisal (1964-1975) wanted to introduce girls’ schools and introduce television broadcasts, something unfortunate was against. It was all solved by giving Islam a great deal of space in both new orders.
The regime has been forced into a balance between Islam’s values and demands for modernization. Conservative religious forces believe that the royal house is too western-influenced and wavering in its way of life. Among them are groups that have taken up arms. The power of Ulamah is great, as they control everything that concerns religion and courts. The demands for adaptation to Islam were sharpened after the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. At that time, ulama was given a morality policy, al-mutawwi’a (“The Commission for the Promotion and Prevention of Sin”). Despite its strong control apparatus, the regime has faced growing criticism from an Islamist opposition.
Domestic political contradictions also occur as disputes within the royal family. There are at least 5,000 people with prin titles and internal rivalry is widespread. From time to time power struggles can be discerned between phalanges within the royal family. King Salman belongs to the Sudayri brothers clan.
Administratively, Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 provinces governed by members of the royal family and in turn divided into governments.
Even more Islamists arrested
Authorities report that 149 suspected terrorists have been arrested in eight months. The majority are suspected to be members of al-Qaeda.
Big arms deal ready
US confirms plans to sell $ 60 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia – the US’s largest single arms deal to date.
The right to issue fatwor is limited
The king decides that only Islamic scholars whom he himself designates may issue religious injunctions, fatwor.
Suspected Islamists arrested
The 133 people arrested have been accused of conspiring with Aqap (see January 2009).