What Type Of Government Does Saudi Arabia Have?

Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries in the world which has an absolute monarchy system of government. The monarch is the highest executive, legislative, and judicial office and the King is the head of government and the head of state. Saudi Arabia uses the Holy Quran as its constitution.

Basic Law Of Saudi Arabia

The Basic Law is the primary written source of laws in Saudi Arabia which stipulates the instructions on how to run the government as well as outlining the rights and freedoms of citizens. The Basic Law is comprised of 83 articles and nine chapters. However, this document is subordinate to the Shariah laws and Islamic laws. In Article 1, the law states that the Holy Quran and the Sunna (teachings) of Muhammad are Saudi Arabia’s constitution. The Basic Law outlines among other provisions, Arabic being the official language and Riyadh being the kingdom’s capital.

The Monarch Of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a monarchy with the kingdom’s leadership being vested in the House of Saud. The House of Saud has produced all Saudi kings since the establishment of the kingdom by Muhammad bin Saud in 1744. The King of Saudi Arabia is the leader of the House of Saud and wields supreme political authority in the kingdom. The King is also the head of state and head of government and has executive, legislative, and judicial powers. Upon ascension to the throne, the king identifies his heir apparent who then becomes the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince is next-in-line to the crown in the event of the king’s death. As leader of the government, the King chairs the Council of Ministers all of whom are appointed by the King, and most crucial appointments are reserved to members of his immediate family. The Council of Ministers is mandated to conduct and implement government policies such as education, health, defense and foreign policy.

Consultative Assembly Of Saudi Arabia

The Consultative Assembly is the official government advisory body which was established through a decree by King Abdul Aziz in 1926. The Consultative Assembly is mandated to draft and propose laws to the King. Also known as the Majlis al-Shura, The Consultative Assembly is composed of 150 members who are influential and experienced individuals drawn from all over Saudi Arabia and are appointed by the King. The Majlis al-Shura has established 13 committees specializing in specific areas of the economy including judicial affairs, youth affairs, security affairs, and financial affairs among others. The Consultative Council can be viewed as the legislature-equivalent of the kingdom with the council being granted membership in the International Parliamentary Union in 2003.

Judiciary Of Saudi Arabia

The legal system of Saudi Arabia is strictly based on the Islamic Shariah Laws. Shariah Courts spread all across the kingdom dispense justice by the Shariah Law which has severe punishments for crimes including amputations, public stoning, and public beheadings. However, with the rapidly-changing technological landscape, other laws have been formulated through royal decrees and are not encompassed by Shariah law including traffic violations. These laws make up the administrative law. The monarch is the highest judicial office and also has the authority on pardoning of law-offenders.


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