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Saudi Arabia Table of Contents

Saudi Arabia


Government: Absolute monarchy that based legitimacy on fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law. King head of state and head of government; no written constitution or elected legislature. Crown prince deputy prime minister; other royal family members headed important ministries and agencies. Political system highly centralized; judiciary and local officials appointed by king through Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Interior.

Politics: Political parties, labor unions, and professional associations banned. Informal political activity centered around estimated 4,000 princes of Al Faisal branch of Al Saud ruling family. On important policy matters, king sought consensus among senior princes of major Al Saud clans. King also consulted senior ulama (religious scholars) of Al ash Shaykh family and leaders of main tribal families. Western-educated professional and technocratic elite had restricted influence through alliances with various Saudi princes.

Foreign Relations: Founding member of United Nations (UN), League of Arab States, Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Participated in UN specialized agencies, World Bank, Nonaligned Movement, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries. Security, Arab nationalism, and Islam main foreign policy concerns. Objective to prevent radical Arab nationalist or radical Islamic movements from threatening stability of Arabian Peninsula. Most active Arab participant in war against Iraq, 1991. Historically had close ties with United States, despite differences over Israel. Closest regional allies fellow members of GCC and Egypt.

Data as of December 1992