Saudi Arabia follows a monarchy system of government. The power of ruling is hereditary within the Al Saud family in accordance with the holy Qur'an and the prophet's Sunnah. Political parties are banned in the country.
The Shura council consists of 150 members and a speaker chosen by the King from amongst scholars, and individuals with knowledge and expertise. The members are chosen for a four year term.
Council of Ministers
The King is the head of the government and commander in chief of the military. A crown prince, appointed by the King, assists the King with his duties. The prince is also the successor to the throne. The council of ministers or the cabinet supports the King in matters related to governance. The cabinet consists of 22 government ministries that specialise in different activities such as foreign affairs, education and finance.
The legislative body called the Consultative Council or Majlis Al-Shura advises the King on matters regarding new legislation and amending existing laws.
(Source: saudi.gov, ITUC)
The economic freedom in Saudi Arabia is constrained by inadequate levels of monetary freedom, investment freedom, and property rights. The legal system is under the political influence. The country scores 66.2 on the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom, making it the 54th freest economy in 2011.
New Zealand ranks at 50th position on the World’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI). CPI measures the perceived level of public-sector corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world.
Freedom of information
The media operates under the control of the government. Media is not allowed to criticise the government and the Royal family. Internet sites on political, social or religious issues are also blocked in the country.
World Press Freedom Index 2010 ranks Saudi Arabia at the 157th position with a score of 61.5. The country’s ranking improved from 2009, when it was ranked 163rd out of 175 countries. The country’s ranking indicates that media in the country is under the influence of the government.
Al-Watan, Al-Riyadh, Okaz, Al-Jazirah, Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Arab News, Saudi Gazette are few of the major newspapers in the country.
(Source: rsf.org, BBC)
The judicial system in Saudi Arabia is based on Sharia or Islamic Law. The Sharia courts look after the jurisdiction over general and residual cases. There are four levels of Sharia courts:
· Criminal courts
· General courts
· Court of Cassation
· Supreme Judicial Council
The Supreme Judicial Council is an eleven member council and supervises the lower courts. The Council provides legal opinions, advises the King and reviews sentences involving death, amputation, or stoning.
(Source: Ministry of Justice)