Saudi Arabia Political system
According to EQUZHOU.NET, Saudi Arabia is an Islamic absolute monarchy. The king is also the country’s prime minister. The important government offices are held by members of the royal family and provincial governors are appointed by the king. The country’s constitution was established in writing in 1992 and is based on the Koran, Sharia and Sunna. The Council of Ministers, established in 1953, has 150 members and has an advisory role. Half of it is appointed by the king, the other half is elected by the people every four years. See AbbreviationFinder for more information about Saudi Arabia politics, and acronyms as well.
Women in Saudi Arabia do not have the right to vote. The first democratic elections took place in 2005, but only at local level. However, half of the MPs were still appointed by the royal family.
It is noteworthy that around 60% of the workforce in the country comes from other countries and many highly skilled jobs are still beyond Saudis’ hands. Official unemployment is 15%, while non-state observers assume a much higher rate. Crime is also starting to increase, despite draconian penalties.
After the death of Fahd ibn Abd al-Aziz (1921-2005) in 2005, his half-brother Abdullah ibn Abd al-Asis took power in the country; by the way, he paid an official state visit to Germany in November 2007. Within its current borders, the country was created in 1932 by then King Abdulasis al-Saud. In the same year, the country’s national flag was introduced. Abdullah died on January 23, 2014, after which his half-brother Salem took over the office of king of the country.
The official name of the country is:
|Kingdom of Saudi Arabia al-Mamlaka al-carabiyya as-sacudiyya|
“Aash Al Maleek” (Long Live the King) has been the national anthem of Saudi Arabia since 1950. Ibrahim Khafaji wrote the lyrics, the music is by Abdul Rahman Al-Khateeb.
In the English translation it reads:
|Earn glory and domination! Glorifythe Creator of Heavens
And hoist the green, fluttering flag
bearing the emblem of light!
Repeat: God is the greatest!
Oh, my country,
my country, may you live forever,
the glory of all Muslims!
Long live the king,
for the flag and for the country!
The national flag of Saudi Arabia was introduced by then-King Abdulasis al-Saud in 1932 and was officially confirmed in 1973. Because of the special religious meaning of the flag, it is given special respect that goes far beyond the usual respect for national flags. Damaging the flag – including on transport containers or other objects – can therefore be treated as a religious offense.
Based on flag descriptions by Countryaah.com, the characters on the flag mean: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger”.
- Check top-mba-universities for public holidays, sports events, UNESCO world heritage sites and major places to visit in Saudi Arabia.
Politicians and rulers
Muhammed ibn Saud (1726 to 1765),
founder of the 1st Arab Empire.
Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahab (1703 to 1792)
religious reformer. Wahhabism, the state religion of Saudi Arabia and the most conservative branch of Islam, was named after him
Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud (1880 to 1953)
founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “Ibn Saud” was King of Saudi Arabia from 1932 to 1953.
Usama ibn Muhammad ibn Awad ibn Ladin (Osama bin Laden, born 1957).
The religious fundamentalist comes from a rich and extensive Arab family. As a mujahid he fought against the occupation of Afghanistan and did great service there. In 1994, his Saudi citizenship was revoked. Bin Laden’s organization Al-Qaeda, according to its own confession, pursues the following goals: “The expulsion of American troops from the Gulf region, the overthrow of the Saudi royal house, and with it the liberation of the holy places of the Muslims, and the worldwide support of militant Islamist groups”. He is suspected of being the mastermind behind various acts of terrorism, including the September 11, 2001 attacks.
He was tracked down and shot dead on the morning of May 2, 2011 by an American special unit (Navy Seals) in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
His ashes were scattered on board a US aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea that same day.
Raif Badawi (born 1984)
blogger and political prisoner. Raif Muhammad Badawi was born in al-Chubar on January 13, 1984.
Badawi founded the online forum “The Saudi Liberals” in 2008 – which commented on politics and religion in Saudi Arabia. The state authorities initially responded by banning travel and freezing his accounts.
But it didn’t stop there and on June 17, 2012 he was arrested and prosecuted for apostasy. An Islamic legal opinion in March 2013 declared him an “unbeliever”.
The judiciary then accused him of calling Muslims, Christians, Jews and atheists equal. On July 28, 2013, it was announced that he had been sentenced to seven years in prison and four times 150 lashes.
But even that was not enough for the religious fanatics and in May 2014 he was sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes and a fine of a little less than € 195,000 for “insulting Islam”.
The 1,000 lashes – spread over 20 weeks – amounted to a death penalty in installments. On January 9, 2015, he received his first 50 lashes with the stick, injuring him so badly that the continuation was postponed on the advice of the prison doctor.
But even that was not enough for the rulers and therefore his lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair was also charged and subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison and a 15 year travel ban.
Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar now lives in Canada with her three children.
On December 16, 2015 Badawi was awarded the EU Sakharov Prize. His wife – unveiled and without a headscarf – accepted the award for him in Strasbourg.
In support of Saudi Arabia, the SPD economics minister and vice chancellor Gabriel approved numerous arms exports in 2015.
Hadi Al Somayli (born 1976)
athlete. He won Olympic silver in the 400 m hurdles in 2000.
Khaled Al Eid (born 1969)
show jumper. Al Eid won the bronze medal in show jumping in Sydney in 2000.
Theologians and philosophers
Mohammed (c. 571 to 632)
Military leader and founder of Islam.
The founder of religion, regarded by the Muslims as the historically last prophet, was born in Mecca and died in Medina. Since then, both places have been the most important places of pilgrimage in the Islamic world.
The teachings of Muhammad are based on the reformed monotheistic teaching of Abraham. The new religion made possible a (sometimes violent) unification of the Arab tribes in the Umma (Muslim community), whose conquests were waged against infidels with the jihad (religious war). The jihad was initially directed against polytheists, later also against Jews and Christians, whose writings were seen as falsified.
Saudi Arabia: animals
The wild cats and camels are widespread.
The Arabian oryx, the Nubian ibex and gazelles are far less common. Golden jackals, desert foxes, striped hyenas and the 50 cm tall Afghan fox, which can also be found in mountainous regions, roam through deserts and semi-deserts.
Here you can occasionally meet the caracal. It belongs to the cat family and, with its pointed and brushed ears, has a lynx-like appearance, which has earned it the nickname “desert lynx”. The black and white drawing of the face and the black colored back of the ears are characteristic. The coat color varies between ocher yellow and reddish tones. It is not only common in deserts, but also in semi-deserts, steppes and dry forests throughout Africa, Arabia and Western Asia. The nocturnal big cat hunts rabbits, rodents, birds and dwarf antelopes. The longer rear legs make it a powerful jumper, which is not only an enormous advantage when hunting birds.
As in other very warm countries, reptiles are not uncommon in Saudi Arabia.
Geckos are by far the most common, but agamas, monitor lizards and chameleons are also at home here.
A representative of the latter family is the veiled chameleon. The diurnal, 45-60 cm tall animal is one of the more colorful specimens. Contrary to popular belief, chameleons cannot adapt to any surface, but are limited to a certain color spectrum that differs from species to species. The color changes are not necessarily related to the surface, but are a reaction to the state of mind of the chameleon (temperature, fear, illness, etc.) and are primarily used for intra-species communication.
Numerous poisonous species of snakes hide behind crevices and meander through the desert sand. The approximately 70 cm long Persian Trughorn Viper, like the day and nocturnal Arabian sand rattle otter, has a very strong venom.
The horned viper has poison tube teeth, which also contain a very potent venom.
Other poisonous creatures can be found in the water. Stonefish live here, which is very difficult to spot due to their excellent camouflage. They are littered with spines, the back spines contain a neurotoxin, which is very toxic. If you step on the fish, the poison is injected into the body. This leads to nerve paralysis with water formation under the skin, cardiac arrhythmias up to cardiac arrest, peripheral vasodilatation and often to respiratory arrest. There are several cases where encountering a stonefish has resulted in death.
As a first aid measure you should remove the sting, clean the wound and then immerse the injured area in hot water. This method has proven itself as it has a pain-relieving effect and prevents or inhibits the spread of the poison. In any case, however, additional medical help must be sought.
The lionfish, which also belongs to the scorpion fish family, carries its poison in the fin rays, especially in those of the dorsal fin. Contact with these rays can even be fatal for humans.
Individual specimens of the 100-120 cm large red chalk pelican have already been observed in Saudi Arabia. The numerous birds of prey are represented by falcons, eagles-owls, vultures and buzzards.
Ring-necked parakeets are particularly comfortable in settlements, while birds such as the vulnerable Socotra cormorant, flamingos and snapper prefer to stay near the coast.
Flamingos are a family of their own and are in Africa, Western Asia and southern France. The up to 130 cm tall birds are immediately recognizable by their long and thin neck, by their thin legs and by their thick, downwardly curved pink beak with a black tip. This is used as a sieve when searching for food. The menu includes worms, algae and, above all, small crustaceans. They are also responsible for the pink plumage of the flamingos. The red dye absorbed with the crabs is stored in the feathers. After all, the more crabs the birds have eaten, the more pink they are. The famous one-legged standing is used to store heat, as one leg is hidden in the warm plumage and thus less heat loss occurs.
The anopheles mosquito is widespread in the south-west of the country. You should definitely protect yourself from it with appropriate skin creams and/or long clothing, as it is the carrier of the malaria parasites (plasmodia).
The nocturnal camel spider, which belongs to the family of roller spiders, is a common spider that occurs frequently in the desert areas and is fraught with rumors. It has very powerful biting tools (chelicerae) with which it can crack the shell of scorpions. But it also feeds on insects, lizards and rarely even on smaller rodents. With a size of about 6 cm, the legs reach an astonishing length of about 15 cm, which makes the spider appear larger than it actually is. As a cold-blooded animal, it can reach speeds of up to 16 km/h. The camel spider is not poisonous, but its bites can still be quite painful for weeks.
A very rich underwater world is found in coral reefs.
Here the yellow-blade nose doctor, angelfish, moray eels, star snails, masked butterfly fish and anthias will delight the diver’s heart.
The more uncomfortable residents include the poisonous stone fish as well as the dangerous lionfish.
Saudi Arabia: plants
Deserts and desert steppes have a very strong presence in Saudi Arabia, and so plants such as grasses and shrubs dominate the central highlands and coastal areas.
There are very few trees here. The only forests, which largely consist of holm oaks and cedars, grow in the coastal mountains.
Various fruit trees and especially date palms, as well as rice and vegetables are grown in the oases.
One of the most famous medicinal plants, aloe vera, grows in Saudi Arabia. There are around 200 species of aloe in total, but only two have healing properties, including aloe vera. The plant has no trunk, while the approximately 50 cm long, fleshy leaves that are toothed on the edge are arranged in a rosette. The gel-like interior of the leaves is also the main source of the active ingredients in aloe. Taken internally, for example in the form of a juice, the substances have a strengthening effect on the immune system and detoxify. If the gel contained in the leaves is applied externally, it has a skin-caring effect and a soothing effect on mosquito bites, sunburn and burns. It also has a disinfectant and wound and scar healing effect. Aloe also proves these properties in itself, by being able to close wounds on leaves within a few hours. However, the plant only develops the full range of its active ingredients at the age of 3-4 years. All wild growing aloe species are under nature protection!