Saudi Arabia silently disapproves of the imminent hangings of the leadership of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the religious party that serves as a standard-bearer for its strand of Islam in Bangladesh.
Saudi is one of ten countries where homosexuality is punishable by death the punishment of stoning to death may be applied to married men who've engaged in homosexual acts or any non-Muslim married or unmarried who commits sexual acts with a Muslim,  as well as fines, flogging , prison time, on first offense. As in other Arab and especially Gulf countries , Saudi customs include avoiding certain practices, such as:.
Observers have noted the importance of custom and tradition in Saudi society. Folk beliefs such as "which foot to step first into the bathroom with, or urinating on the wheel of a new car to ward off the evil eye," hold an important place.
Older brothers—even if older by only a few days—should have their hand kissed by younger brothers, sit above them on formal occasions, enter a room before them. Women who go on even short trips of a few days are expected to visit senior relatives and even close neighbors to bid them goodbye, and upon returning, make another round of visits to the same individuals to pay her respects and dispense small gifts.
One observer has noted that "through their love of language, Saudis are swayed more by words rather than ideas and more by ideas than facts. Many outsiders are struck by the superficial resemblance of Saudi cities at least those on the coast such as Jeddah -- with their superhighways, shopping malls and fast food—to those of post-World War II western cities and suburbs.
As late as , most Saudis lived a subsistence life in the rural provinces, but the kingdom has urbanized rapidly in the last half of the 20th century. Like many people throughout the world, many Saudis derive "much pleasure and pride" in their homes.
Saudis enjoy decorating rooms of their homes in "all the colours of the spectrum" and display objets d'art of many different styles together. Foreigners may also be struck by the lack of finishing touches in construction "Electrical switches may protrude from the wall supported only by their wiring" or maintenance "Piles of masonry are likely to lie scattered beside and on the streets of expensive suburbs".
Saudi Arabia, and specifically the Hejaz , as the cradle of Islam, has many of the most significant historic Muslim sites, including the two holiest sites of Mecca and Medina. However, Saudi Wahhabism doctrine is hostile to any reverence given to historical or religious places of significance for fear that it may give rise to 'shirk' that is, idolatry. Demolished structures include the mosque originally built by Muhammad's daughter Fatima , and other mosques founded by Abu Bakr Muhammad's father-in-law and the first Caliph , Umar the second Caliph , Ali Muhammad's son-in-law and the fourth Caliph , and Salman al-Farsi another of Muhammad's companions.
While women were forbidden to drive motor vehicles until 24 June  and were consequently limited in mobility, they traditionally have often had considerable informal power in the home. According to journalist Judith Miller, "some Saudi women were veritable tyrants in their own homes. They decided where their children would go to school, when and whom they would marry, whether their husbands would accept new jobs, with whom the family socialized, and where the family would live and spend vacations.
They promoted their friends' husbands, sons and relatives to key jobs. Outside the home, a number of Saudi women have risen to the top of some professions or otherwise achieved prominence; for example, Dr. Ghada Al-Mutairi heads a medical research center in California  and Dr. As of , child marriage is still legal    but no longer common,   with the average age at first marriage among Saudi females being 25 years old.
While the status of women in the kingdom is "a very noble and lofty one", according to leading Islamic scholars, it does not include equal rights with men.
Under Saudi law, every adult female must have a male relative as her "guardian",  whose permission she is required to have in order to travel, study, or work.
In the courts, the testimony of one man equals that of two women in family and inheritance law. According to a leading Saudi feminist and journalist, Wajeha al-Huwaider , "Saudi women are weak, no matter how high their status, even the 'pampered' ones among them, because they have no law to protect them from attack by anyone. Saudi women's lives are also shaped by Wahhabi religious policy of strict gender segregation. In health, obesity is a problem among middle and upper class Saudi women, who have domestic servants to do traditional work and have limited ability to leave their house.
In the public sphere restaurants have specially designated family sections women are required to use. They are also required to wear an abaya and at the very least cover their hair. Like many Muslim countries of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has a high population growth rate and high percentage of its population under 30 years of age, Estimates of the young population of Saudi Arabia vary.
Factors—such as the decline in per capita income from the failure of oil revenue to keep up with population growth, exposure to youth lifestyles of the outside world, lack of access to quality education and employment opportunity, change in child rearing practices and attitudes towards the ruling royal family—indicate their lives and level of satisfaction will be different than the generation before them.
In recent decades, child rearing in Saudi Arabia has increasingly been handled by hired servants. Consequently, according to at least one observer John R. Bradley , they both "lack the authority Unlike their parents, who grew up during the oil boom of the s and saw their standard of living rise from poverty to affluence, Saudis born "in the s and s have no memory of the impoverished Arabia prior to the oil boom and thus express almost no sense of appreciation. Instead, they have experienced a kingdom of poor schools, overcrowded universities, and declining job opportunities..
Moreover, their royal rulers' profligate and often non-Islamic lifestyles are increasingly transparent to Saudis and stand in sharp contrast both to Al Saud religious pretensions and to their own declining living standards. Saudi youth are exposed to youth lifestyles of the outside world via the internet, as cinemas, dating, and concerts are banned in their country. Public fields for soccer are scarce. Even shopping malls do not allow young men unless they are accompanied by a female relative.
Nearly two-thirds of university graduates earn degrees in Islamic subjects,  where job prospects are in the public sector, dependent on government revenues. However, funding for public sector may decline not expand in coming years. At least some experts expect the kingdom's expenditures to "exceed its oil revenues as soon as As a dangerous, illegal and so unregulated activity, crashes and fatalities sometimes occur. Guest workers range in occupation from high skilled workers employed to jobs Saudis cannot do , to manual service workers doing jobs Saudis "will not do".
One source places workers from Gulf oil producing countries at the top,  another places Americans there,  but all agree that Nationals from places like Bangladesh , Yemen and Philippines are at the bottom. With a large number of unemployed Saudis, a growing population and need for government spending but stagnating oil revenues with which to pay foreign workers, the large number of expats has come to be seen as "an enormous problem" that "distorts" the Saudi economy and "keeps young people out of the labour market.
Saudi Arabia expelled , Yemenis in and during the Gulf War due to Yemen's support for Saddam Hussein against Saudi Arabia,  and cut the number of Bangladeshis allowed to enter Saudi in after the Bangladeshi government cracked down on the Islamist Jamaat-e Islami party there.
The Saudi—Yemen barrier was constructed by Saudi Arabia against an influx of illegal immigrants and against the smuggling of drugs and weapons.
Treatment of foreign workers is also an issue. According to Human Rights Watch , as of , there was a "worrying trend" of expatriate domestic workers filing "complaints of exploitation and abuse" only to face counter-allegations by their employers of "theft, witchcraft or adultery. The Arabian Peninsula has a long tradition of slavery and ethnically, Saudis have a range of skin color "from very light to very dark and features from Caucasian to African", a testimony to ethnicity of the slaves that intermarried over the centuries with natives of the region.
Saudi Arabian cuisine is similar to that of the surrounding countries in the Arabian Peninsula, and has been heavily influenced by Turkish, Persian, and African food. Animals are slaughtered in accordance with halal Islamic dietary laws , which consider pork impure najis and alcohol forbidden haram.
As a general rule, Saudis like other Muslims consider impure pork to be disgusting, but forbidden alcohol a temptation. Consequently, dietary laws regarding the former are more strictly observed than those regarding the latter. According to some observers Harvey Tripp and Peter North , though the kingdom is a "prohibition state", "discreet consumption" of alcohol by foreigners and even by Saudis is tolerated by authorities.
Both home brewed "sidiqui" and black market imports are consumed. Flat, unleavened bread is a staple of virtually every meal, as are dates and fresh fruit. Coffee, served in the Arabic style , is the traditional beverage. The appearance of modern supermarkets and commercial restaurants starting in the s has changed Saudi culinary habits. International cuisine, particularly fast food, has become popular in all Saudi urban areas i.
Coffee is often served "with great ceremony", and it is customary to drink two or three cups to indicate your approval of the coffee. Cups are refilled unless a gesture—shaking your cup—is made to indicate you've had enough. Educated Saudis are well informed of issues of the Arab world , the Muslim world , and the world at large, but freedom of the press and public expression of opinion are not recognized by the government. Most Saudi Arabian newspapers are privately owned but subsidized and regulated by the government.
Labor unions and political parties are prohibited in the kingdom, although a few underground political parties do exist. The government has created a national " Consultative Council " which is appointed not elected, and does not pass laws , and has given permission for certain "societies" to exist though they have little ability to influence government policy.
Limited non-partisan municipal elections were held in Association football soccer is the national sport in Saudi Arabia. In recent years, some Saudi players have become skilled enough to play in Europe.
Basketball known as soccer is also popular. The Saudi Arabian national basketball team won the bronze medal at the Asian Championship. While spectator sport is popular, participant sport is less so, possibly because of the heat of the climate for most of the year, and the difficulty of playing football and other sports in traditional clothing. Camel racing is a uniquely Arabian sport practiced in the kingdom and the UAE that still has some mass popularity.
There are camel racetracks in most of the kingdom's major centres, and races for prize money on many weekends throughout the winter months.
Like racehorses, camels with breeding pedigrees may be very valuable. In Saudi Arabia included women in its Olympic team for the first time. Two female athletes—a runner and judoka—participated. The inclusion followed international criticism for years of exclusion,  but was controversial in the kingdom, and "prompted some to abuse the morals" of the athletes on social media. As of April , Saudi authorities in the education ministry have been asked by the Shoura Council to consider lifting a state school ban on sports for girls with the proviso that any sports conform to Sharia rules on dress and gender segregation, according to the official SPA news agency.
Visual arts tend to be dominated by geometric, floral, and abstract designs and by calligraphy. Sunni Islam traditionally prohibits creating representations of people, and from the 18th century onward, Wahhabi fundamentalism discouraged artistic development inconsistent with its teaching. With the advent of oil wealth in the 20th century came exposure to outside influences, such as Western housing styles, furnishings, and clothes.
The ten-day-long Jenadriyah National Festival celebrates the founding of the kingdom and showcases Saudi culture and heritage, traditional crafts such as pottery and woodcutting, folk dance and traditional songs. Music and dance have always been part of Saudi life.
Al-sihba folk music has its origins in al-Andalus. In Mecca , Medina and Jeddah , dance and song incorporate the sound of the mizmar , an oboe -like woodwind instrument , in the performance of the mizmar dance. The drum is also an important instrument according to traditional and tribal customs. Samri is a popular traditional form of music and dance in which poetry is sung. Of the native dances, the most popular is a martial line dance known as the Al Ardha , which includes lines of men, frequently armed with swords or rifles, dancing to the beat of drums and tambourines.
As one non-Saudi described it, the performance consists of: Bedouin poetry is a cultural tradition in Saudi Arabia. According to Sandra Mackey , author of The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom , "the role that formal poetry, prose, and oratory play in Saudi culture is totally alien to Western culture.
Some Saudi novelists have had their books published in Aden , Yemen , because of censorship in Saudi Arabia. Despite signs of increasing openness, Saudi novelists and artists in film , theatre , and the visual arts used to face greater restrictions on their freedom of expression than in the West, things are starting to change nowadays and a lot of contemporary novelists and artists are being well known in Saudi Arabia and internationally. During the s, cinemas were numerous in the kingdom although they were seen as contrary to tribal norms.
As of ,Rinemas opened in multiple cities including iyadh and Jeddahh. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision should bring cinemas back to the country in early Culture and Customs of Saudi Arabia. Otto, Jan Michiel Tripp, Harvey; North, Peter Culture Shock, Saudi Arabia. A Guide to Customs and Etiquette. In winter, they are to be found in darker black and blue shades. Since Saudi Arabia is a region with an arid climate, the Qamis constitutes the ideal clothing as it offers as much comfort as freshness to the one wearing it.
The Saudi Thawb differs from the Qamis of neighboring countries in some fine details. The collar of the Saudi Qamis contains two buttons while its sleeves are as tight as those of a regular shirt. These sleeves are devoid of buttons but have holes for cufflinks. It is a very popular garment both in Saudi Arabia and the surrounding Arab countries. Fashionable and classy, the Bisht is only worn during special occasions like weddings or religious holidays.
It is also the garb the imam wears on Friday sermons. The Saudi coat may be beige, black, brown, gray or cream. It is decorated with golden embroidery and closes by means of two strings with golden tassels. In winter, people wear a Bisht made of camel-hair wool to endure the low season temperatures. The Saudi headgear is intrinsic to men.
Saudis all wear something on their head. Moreover, due to a blazing sun and many sandstorms, it has become an indispensable accessory. The Shemagh is a scarf with a red and white checkered pattern. The price of this woven cotton fabric varies depending on the quality of the yarn it is made of. Gender-segregated space still exists in many households. Their goal was religious reform, a phenomenon that involved a new leadership structure that placed Al Saud in the position of umara princes, rulers and Al Abd al-Wahab also known as Al Sheikh in the position of ulama learned in religion.
The reform movement also involved military struggle, preaching, the establishment of Koranic schools, the setting up of new communities, and the creation of a bureaucratic state that ruled in Najd from and in Hijaz from until , when it was defeated by an Ottoman army from Egypt. This state was reestablished in the mid-nineteenth century, overthrown by Al Rashid, and re-created through reconquest and religious reform under the leadership of Abd al-Aziz Al Saud beginning in and culminating with the declaration of the present kingdom in Never a colony of a foreign power or a province of the Ottoman Empire, the Saudi Arabian state resulted from an indigenous local process of sociopolitical change and religious reform.
Some think of that state as having a strong tribal dimension, in part because the Al Saud are of tribal origins. However, merchants provided loans and financial assistance, preachers and teachers built a consciousness among Muslims and imparted religious knowledge, and jurists and bureaucrats labored to carry out the work of a state without regard to tribal identity.
The legitimacy of the state is derived from Islam, along with the will of the citizens, who swear an oath of allegiance bayah to the ruler. The constitution is the Koran, and Sharia Islamic law is the law of the land. The ruler has the title "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques," which implies an Islamic role, yet he also carries the title of malik "king" , which may be seen as symbolic of the state's technical, administrative, and policing functions.
As Muslims, Saudi Arabians participate in a community ummah in which issues of race, ethnicity, and national origin should be of no significance and never form the basis for social action, political behavior, and economic organization. The identity of Muslim transcends the borders of states and ideally takes precedence over all other identities.
Socially, however, the concept of origin asl is strong among many Saudi Arabians. Some people, mainly in Hijaz, are recognized descendants of Muhammad and are known as Ashraf. Many others throughout the kingdom assert patrilineal descent from eponymous ancestors from ancient Arab tribes. Still others stress Arabian origins but without tribal connections.
However, Saudi citizenship embraces people with historical origins outside the Arabian Peninsula. Considerations of origin are important markers and influence social interaction, including marriage, but do not translate directly into economic or power differentials in the national society.
Moreover, the social significance of such considerations is waning, especially among younger people. The more prominent cultural division within Saudi Arabian society is between citizens and immigrants. In these cases, religious, linguistic, and other cultural barriers accentuate the social cleavage between the local person and the foreigner. Moreover, class divisions separate citizens from the many immigrants who are low-skilled workers. The immigrants come temporarily and mostly as individuals without families.
They are thus in the society but not of it, and little effort is made to assimilate them. In , roughly 40 percent of the population was nomadic and resided in tents in highly dispersed patterns on vast rangelands, where they migrated with herds of camels, sheep, and goats to seasonal pastures and for access to water.
Another 40 percent lived in villages in the rural areas of oases or the Asir highlands and worked mainly in agriculture. In , three-quarters of the population was classified as urban. Major changes accompanied the growth of the oil industry in the s. New cities developed rapidly, while older ones increased in size. Nomadic Bedouin settled in villages and in and around cities, and villagers left their communities for rapidly growing urban areas.
This geographic mobility was accompanied by occupational mobility as Bedouin and villagers worked as wage laborers or small-scale traders and taxi drivers and then became government and private sector employees, professionals, and businesspeople.
People from old cities also moved to newly developing cities and experienced occupational change. The new cities and the transformed areas of old ones depend on the use of automobiles. They sprawl over large areas, have neighborhoods separated by open spaces, and are linked by wide thoroughfares, freeways, and ring roads. The new urban fabric contrasts sharply with urban scenes that lingered into the s.
The old cities were walled and had compact residential areas with mazes of narrow paths, parts of which were covered by the upper stories of houses. Most houses had inward-looking courtyards, and some used wind catches to circulate air. The old cities also had date palm gardens with wells and other greenery between and among neighborhoods.
Mosques were within easy walking distance from residences, and there was always a main central mosque, a major market area, and a principal seat of government that was usually part of a fort. Similarities in the social use of domestic space transcended the categories of nomad, villager, and urbanite and continue today. The tents of nomads and the permanent houses of others were divided into sections for men and women, which also served as the family living quarters.
Among the nomads, men sat on kilims and carpets around a hearth outside the front of the tent to visit, drink coffee and tea, and eat. Boys past puberty and male visitors slept there. Women made similar use of the space set aside for their visiting in the tents. The same pattern of gender-segregated space continues to exist in the homes of sedentary people. Modern housing often has separate entrances and separate reception areas or living rooms for each gender.
In many houses, people sit on carpets or cushions alongside the walls of the room, and most of those houses have areas with chairs and sofas around the walls. The central space of the room is left open. People in both cities and smaller communities now live mainly in individual dwellings with exterior surrounding walls.
Although apartment buildings exist, they usually are inhabited by immigrants. The tents and old houses usually housed extended families of three or more generations. Although nuclear family households are increasingly the norm, relatives continue to cluster together, and it is not uncommon for brothers to locate their dwellings on adjacent lots or inside a common compound. Many immigrants live in camps specifically created for them or in abandoned housing in the older parts of towns; some guest workers live on farms.
Food in Daily Life. The traditional staple foods were dates; goat, camel, and cow's milk; ghee, cheese, and other milk products; bread and other foods from wheat, millet, and barley; squash, eggplant, okra, pumpkin, beans, leeks, onions, and a few other vegetables; mint, coriander, parsley, and cumin; and occasionally mutton, goat, or camel meat and, on the coasts, fish.
Elderly people remember meals of the past as simple but adequate, without a morsel wasted. They regularly ate at home and started the day with a breakfast of coffee and a few dates soon after the dawn prayer. The last and main meal often was taken before the sunset prayer and consisted of a hot grain-based dish, vegetables among sedentary people in oases, milk among the nomadic Bedouin, rarely some meat, and dates. Meals today are eaten later, and the foods are more copious and elaborate.
Cheese, yogurt, jam, eggs, beans, and bread may be consumed around eight a. A lunch of mutton or chicken on a plate of rice with side dishes of vegetables and salads followed by fresh fruit is shared by family members around 2: The evening meal is usually a lighter version of lunch and is eaten well after eight o'clock. Less common today are dates, grain-based dishes, and milk. Rice has become ubiquitous, and chicken very common.
Light roasted Arabic coffee without sugar but spiced with cardamom remains the national beverage; tea is also popular. Foods that are taboo are those forbidden by Islam, notably pork and wine and other alcoholic beverages. Restaurants were uncommon and considered somewhat improper in the past, but a wide spectrum now serves Middle Eastern, north African, Italian, Indian and Pakistani, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and other cuisines in addition to American and Middle Eastern fast food.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. The arrival of a guest at one's home is an event that leads to a special meal in honor of the visitor. Traditional etiquette required that sheep, goat, or camel be sacrificially slaughtered, and this is still often done. However, chicken may be substituted, and in many urban households meat dishes have replaced eating the whole animal. Major ritual occasions associated with Islamic feasts, weddings, reunions of family and kin, and other social events still require the sacrificial slaughter of sheep or, less commonly, goats or young camels.
For these events, meat is boiled in huge pots, and part of the soup is passed among the guests, with the rest poured over large trays of rice on top of which the cooked meat is placed. Traditionally, male guests and older men gather around the tray and eat first, using the right hand; they are followed by younger men and finally boys.
Women and girls eat separately, often food prepared specially for them but sometimes eating what the men and boys have not consumed.
Multiple rounds of coffee and tea are served before and after the meal, and incense is burned. Saudi Arabia produced all its staple foods until the s. Coffee, tea, sugar, cardamom, rice, cloth, and some manufactured A Saudi man using the Internet in his office in Riyadh. There are substantial variations in the amount of income and accumulated wealth among Saudi Arabians. Exports consisted of dates, camels, horses, and sheep, with western India, Iraq, greater Syria, and Egypt being the main centers of long-distance trade.
Saudi Arabia also received a modest income related to the holy pilgrimage and other travel to shrines. Generally, the country was self-reliant, but for a smaller population and at a lower consumption level. The majority of the population worked in food production; however, most people depended on local exchange for food and other items. Today, a vastly richer country is dependent on international trade for much of its food and almost everything else.
In the s and s, Saudi Arabia invested heavily in new commercial agriculture. Spectacular increases have been achieved in the production of wheat, sorghum, barley, poultry and eggs, and new vegetable and fruit crops. However, much of this expansion depends on the use of fossil water not replenishible , guest workers, imported machinery, and state subsidies.
Saudi Arabia has regained self-sufficiency in wheat, and range-based livestock raising is increasingly commercial in orientation. Many Saudi Arabians still work in agriculture and ranching, but as owners and managers rather than workers; some are absentee owners, and many have other occupations and other sources of income. Land Tenure and Property. Land developed for agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial uses that has been demarcated is usually owned as private property mulk and can be bought and sold freely.
Some property, however, may be held as a trust waqf for the support of a religious institution or an owner's descendants. Nondemarcated, undeveloped land in the desert belongs to the state, but traditional rights of access to rangeland and the ownership of water wells dug by nomads or their ancestors are informally attributed to lineages and clans in Bedouin communities. Much land in older settlements is encumbered by informal but powerful ancestral claims of ownership and tenure.
Saudi Arabia has banks, foreign exchange houses, and gold and jewelry shops; import houses and agencies of international companies; engineering and contracting firms; supermarkets, grocery stores, butcheries, and bakeries; hotels and restaurants; coffeehouses for men only ; and retail firms selling clothing, home wares, electronics, automobiles, and other consumer items.
There are tailors, small repair shops, and other service shops. The Saudi Arabian oil industry began in , when Americans obtained concessions to explore for oil.
Commercial quantities of "black gold" were discovered in , but development of the industry was interrupted by World War II.
Saudi Arabia has more than billion barrels of proven oil reserves—more than a fourth of the world total—and perhaps a trillion barrels of potentially recoverable oil.
It is the world's leading oil producer and exporter, has the world's greatest capacity for oil production, and has the world's fifth largest proven reserves of natural gas. Saudi Arabia also has large and expanding refinery projects and an ambitious program to develop petrochemical production.
In the late s, oil revenues accounted for 85 percent of export earnings and 40 percent of gross domestic product GDP. Gradual nationalization of the oil industry started in the s. Control and ownership shifted to the state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Company Saudi Aramco for crude production, refining, and marketing. The state holds title to all the country's mineral resources, and the oil industry as a whole is governed by the Supreme Petroleum Council headed by the king.
The bulk of exports are crude oil, refined products, and natural gas liquids. Aside from military items, the principal imports include machinery, appliances, electrical equipment, foodstuffs, chemical products, jewelry and metals, and transport items. The major source of imports is the European Union, followed by the United States, and Japan, with only 3 to 4 percent from other Middle Eastern countries.
Unskilled manual work and that of servants and nannies is performed almost exclusively by immigrants. Medium- to high-skilled private sector salaried employment has also been dominated by guest workers. Saudi Arabian citizens prevail in government employment and ownership and management positions in business enterprises.
A process of "Saudization" of the modern workforce has been a national goal since the s. With rapidly rising levels of higher education and the local development of specialized expertise, young Saudi Arabians increasingly have taken A group of Saudi men gather in front of a store in Jeddah.
Men have substantially more rights than women, who must remain out of public view. Economic and demographic forces have contributed to the replacement of immigrants by local citizens in middle-level private sector jobs. A major social division is that between guest workers and local citizens. The working class is largely composed of temporary immigrants, who also occupy middle-class positions and a few positions in the upper class. Major variations in income and accumulated wealth exist, with the major categories including the super-rich, the very rich, and the rich alongside a large middle-income group and some with limited incomes.
Only small pockets of poverty persist. A strong ideology of egalitarianism is traditional among Saudi Arabians, whose social and verbal patterns of interaction stress equality and siblinghood rather than status differentiation. However, degrees of luxury vary greatly. Differences in lifestyle are increasing as wealthy elites interact less commonly with middle-class people. Common attitudes, beliefs, and practices are shared across economic divides, which also are bridged by ties of kinship and religion.
Saudi Arabia is a monarchy whose king serves as both head of state and head of government. The Koran is the constitution. Legislation and other regulations are promulgated by royal decree or ministerial decree sanctioned by the king. The monarch appoints cabinet ministers, governors of provinces, senior military officers, and ambassadors. He is also commander in chief of the armed forces and the final court of appeal with the power of pardon.
Since the rule of King Abd al-Aziz Al Saud died , the kings have all come from among King Abd al-Aziz's sons, a provision that has been extended to include his grandsons. The government also consists of the Royal Divan, which includes the king's private office; advisers for domestic, religious, and international issues; the chief of protocol; and the heads of the office of Bedouin affairs, along with the department of religious research, missionary activities, and guidance and the committees for the propagation of virtue and prevention of vice.
The king holds court in the divan, where citizens can make requests or express complaints. The Council of Ministers is the main executive organ and is composed of the king, the crown prince, several royal ministers of state without portfolio, other ministers of state, the heads of twenty ministries and the national guard, several main provincial governors, and the heads of the monetary agency and the petroleum and mineral organization. The kingdom has a large civil service that began to expand rapidly in the early s and employed an estimated , persons in the early s.
Saudi Arabia has fourteen provinces, each governed by an emir, usually from the royal family, who reports to the minister of the interior. Leadership and Political Officials. There are no political parties, but the royal family is a large grouping with significant political influence.
It consists of about twenty thousand people and has several main branches and clans. Some princes are especially influential in politics, while others are active in business. The ulama also play important leadership roles and consist of members of the Al Sheikh family and several thousand religious scholars, qadis judges , lawyers, seminary teachers, and imams prayer leaders of mosques.
Business and merchant families often exert political influence, but there are no labor unions or syndicates for professional groups. Opposition groups exist outside the country. Political upheavals, some of them violent, have taken place, yet the political system has remained relatively stable over decades of rapid economic, social, and demographic change.
Social Problems and Control. Adherence to Islamic values and maintenance of social stability in the context of rapid economic change have been consistent goals of Saudi Arabia's development plans. Religion and society combine to foster significant social control. A powerful deterrent to deviant behavior is that such behavior brings shame to one's family and kin and is considered sinful.
Crimes related to alcohol and drugs and to sexual misconduct sometimes are linked to rapid modernization. Theft is rare, and other economic crimes are relatively uncommon, with the exception of smuggling. Assault and murder are limited mainly to segments of tribal communities and usually involve issues of honor and revenge. The justice system is based on the Sharia , which defines many crimes and specifies punishments. Crimes not specifically identified in the Sharia are defined on the basis of analogy and often are punished by prison sentences.
Sharia-prescribed punishments usually have a physical component. An individual arrested on a criminal charge is detained in a police station until a judgment is rendered by a court of first instance presided over by one or more qadis. A court of cassation, or appeals court, also exists, and the king functions as a final court of appeal. A person found not guilty is released. If a physical punishment is prescribed, it is carried out in a public place, usually outside a main mosque on Friday, where the criminal's name and ancestral names are called out loudly for all to hear and where the shame is said to be more painful than the physical blow.
Prison sentences, typical for cases involving drugs, are less public. Foreigners convicted of crimes are punished and then deported. Islam is strict about issues of law and order and rigorous in the use of witnesses. For a man to be convicted of theft, four Muslims must swear a religious oath that they saw the theft take place. Alternatively, an individual may confess.
Physical punishment usually is applied only to serious repeat offenders. The state employs the police, supports the qadis and the court system, provides the prisons, and assures that maximum media attention is given to punishments. Saudi Arabia maintains an army, navy, air force, coast guard, national guard, and frontier guard with a combined total of about two hundred thousand men.
These all-volunteer forces have state-of-the-art equipment and a reputation for professionalism. The giving of alms or a tithe zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. This religious obligation sometimes is paid as a tax to Islamic states. Considerable private donations are made to philanthropic societies that address the changing needs of the poor and the handicapped.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia includes a variety of costumes because of its large area. As the Kingdom is consisted of 13 administrative regions, in almost each region there is a special traditional costume which is derived form from its area. Traditional dress in Saudi Arabia covers the entire body except for the face and hands. Saudis prefer to wear traditional costumes as opposed to Western-style clothing. Men and boys wear an ankle-length shirt called a thwab. Thwabs are manufactured from light-colored . The Saudi Qamis, also called Thawb or Thobe, refers to that white long sleeved dress. It truly represents the centerpiece of the Saudi traditional dress and is therefore worn by all the locals. It truly represents the centerpiece of the Saudi traditional dress and is therefore worn by all the locals.