Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Consultative Assembly

مجلس الشورى السعودي

Majlis ash-Shūra as-Saʿūdiyy
Coat of arms or logo
Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al ash-Sheikh
since 15 February 2009
None; Appointment by the King
Meeting place
Shura Council in Saudi Arabia.jpeg
Al Yamamah Palace, Riyadh

The Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia (Arabic: مجلس الشورى السعودي‎, romanizedMaǧlis aš-Šūrā s-Saʿūdiyy), also known as Majlis ash-Shura or Shura Council, is the formal advisory body of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is an absolute monarchy. The Consultative Assembly has neither legislative nor executive powers. It has the power to propose laws to the King of Saudi Arabia and his cabinet. It cannot pass or enforce laws, as such powers are reserved for the king. It has 150 members, all of whom are appointed by the king. Since 2013, the Assembly has included 30 female members.[1][2] The Consultative Assembly is headed by a Speaker. As of 2016, the Speaker was Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al ash-Sheikh, in line with a tradition that kept the post in that family.[citation needed] The Assembly is based in al-Yamamah Palace, Riyadh.


The Consultative Assembly is permitted to propose draft laws and forward them to the king, but only the king has the power to pass or enforce them. The Assembly does, however, have the power to interpret laws, as well as examine annual reports referred to it by state ministries and agencies. It can also advise the king on policies that he submits to it, along with international treaties and economic plans. The Assembly is also authorized to review the country's annual budget, and call in ministers for questioning.[3]

The influence of the Assembly in its present form comes from its responsibility for the kingdom's five-year development plans, from which the annual budgets are derived, its ability to summon government officials for questioning, and its role as policy debate forum.[4]


The first Majlis ash-Shura (Consultative Assembly) was founded by King Abdulaziz on 13 January 1926.[5] It was first named the Shura Council of the Hijaz and chaired by his son, Prince Faisal.[6] However, the complete institutionalization of the assembly was finalized in 1932.[5] Later, it was expanded to include twenty-five members at the beginning of King Saud's reign. However, its functions were transferred to the Cabinet of Ministers due to political pressures of the royal family members. On the other hand, Majlis ash-Shura was not officially dissolved and remained ineffective until King Fahd revived it in 2000.[6]

King Fahd decreed a new Majlis ash-Shura Law on 24 November 2000, which replaced the previous law that had been effective since 1928, and decreed the bylaws of the council and their supplements on 22 August 1993. The first term council (1993–1997) had a speaker and 60 members.[7]:949 The membership was increased by 30 in each of the following terms: the second term 90 members (1997–2001),[7]:950 third term 120 members (2001–2005) and fourth term 150 members (2005–2009). Thus, the number of members increased to 150 members plus the speaker in the fourth term council.

Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al ash-Sheikh with British foreign secretary William Hague in London, 5 March 2013

Having been expanded in 1997 and 2001, the council achieved a place in the International Parliamentary Union by the end of 2003. The fourth term council held 845 sessions and issued 1174 declarations during its second year.[8] In September 2011, just a few days before the 2011 municipal elections, King Abdullah stated that women may become members of the council.[9]

In January 2013, King Abdullah issued two royal decrees, granting women thirty seats on the council, and stating that women must always hold at least a fifth of the seats on the council.[10] According to the decrees, the female council members must be "committed to Islamic Shariah disciplines without any violations" and be "restrained by the religious veil."[10] The decrees also said that the female council members would be entering the council building from special gates, sit in seats reserved for women and pray in special worshipping places.[10] Earlier, officials said that a screen would separate genders and an internal communications network would allow men and women to communicate.[10] Women first joined the council in 2013, and three were named as deputy chairpersons of three committees: Thurayya Obeid (deputy chairwoman of the human rights and petitions committee), Zainab Abu Talib (deputy chairwoman of the information and cultural committee) and Lubna Al Ansari (deputy chairwoman of the health affairs and environment committee).[11][1]


Sheikh Mohammed bin Ibrahim bin Jubair, who was a respected Hanbali jurist and former Minister of Justice, was appointed as the president of the first Council term and of successive ones.[7] He remained the president until his death in 2002, and was replaced by Saleh bin Abdullah bin Homaid.[12]

The fifth term council (2009–2012), which started on 28 February 2009, included the topic of no women[13] and is led by chairperson Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed al ash Sheikh,[13] who is former minister of Justice. He is regarded as a highly respected Islamic scholar, and its appointment is considered to be a move to reassure religious conservatives that the Majlis is being guided by Sharia in its deliberations.[4]

The deputy chairperson in the fifth term is Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed Hamza Asad Hajar.[14] Assistant chairman was Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al Barrak from February 2009 to December 2011.[14] Secretary-general of the Assembly is Mohammed A. Al Ghamdi.[13] Al Ghamdi, whose four-year term expired in May 2012, was replaced by Mohammed al Amr as the new secretary general of the council.[15]

Name Took office Left office Notes
Abdul Gadir Al-Shebi 1924 1925 Speaker of the National council[16]
Mohammed Al-Marzouki 1925 1926 Speaker of the National council[16]
Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud 1926 2 November 1964 Kings of Saudi Arabia thereafter[16]
Sheikh Mohammed bin Jubair August 1993 10 January 2002 [16][17]
Salih bin Abdullah al Humaid 8 February 2002 15 February 2009 [16]
Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al ash-Sheikh 15 February 2009 Incumbent [16]


The Council members appear to be chosen from different provinces, representing three significant groups: religious establishment, bureaucracy and the business groups. They seem to be followers of both conservative and liberal ideologies, and are usually highly educated and experienced people who are regarded as experts in their fields. Mostly academics, retired senior officers, ex-civil servants and businessmen have been chosen as the members of the council.[12]

2005–2009 term

The distribution of members based on their occupation for the 2005–2009 (fourth) term is as follows:[18]

Occupation Number (n=150) Percentage (%)
Academic (PhD) 105 70
Bureaucrat/engineer 12 8
Bureaucrat/religious 4 2.6
Bureaucrat (master's or bachelor's degree) 25 16.7
Military 4 2.6

2009–2013 term

During the 2009–2013 term, half of the members (43% of the new appointees) had a university education in the United States, and 70% of them had PhDs. The Council members for the 2009–2013 term are considered to be technocrats who are experts rather than local leaders.[4] Their educational background was as follows: 16% bachelor's degrees; 13% master's degrees; 70% PhDs; and 1% MDs.[4] The distribution of the members in terms of countries where they were educated is as follows: 49% in the United States; 29% in Saudi Arabia; 16% in the United Kingdom; 3% in France; 1% in Germany; 1% in Egypt; and 1% in Pakistan.[4]

The representation of provinces at the council is given below:[4]

Region Percentage of population (%) Percentage in council (%)
Al Jouf 2 4
Tabuk 3 2
Northern Border 1 4
Ha'il 3 4
Qassim 5 13
Eastern Province 16 8
Madinah 7 12
Makkah 22 24
Riyadh 23 18
Baha 2 2
Asir 8 6
Jizan 6 2
Najran 2 1


Since 2013, the Assembly has included 30 women members out of the total of 150 members.[1][2]


In its original form, the Council consisted of eight specialized committees. These committees were identified in December 1995. Committees and their allocated number of members were as follows: Committee on Social and Health Affairs (7 members); Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs (8 members); Committee on Legislation and Administration (5 members); Committee on Foreign Affairs (7 members); Committee on Islamic Affairs (7 members); Committee on Service and the Public Sector (8 members); Committee on Education, Culture and Information Affairs (9 members); and Committee on Security Affairs (6 members).[19]

Later, the number of the committees was expanded. As of March 2015, the assembly consists of thirteen committees:[20]

  • Islamic, Judicial Affairs
  • Social, Family, and Youth Affairs Committee
  • Economic Affairs and Energy Committee
  • Security Affairs Committee
  • Educational and Scientific Research Affairs Committee
  • Cultural and Informational Affairs Committee
  • Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Health and Environmental Affairs Committee
  • Financial Affairs Committee
  • Transportation, Communications, Information Technology Committee
  • Water and Public Facilities and Services Committee
  • Administration, Human Resources and Petitions Committee
  • Human Rights and Petitions.

Women members

Women were first allowed to join the council in 2013. As of October 2017, women make up 20% of the Assembly's total number, slightly more than the 115th United States Congress (19.3%), highlighting the improvement in female status in Saudi Arabia. Among these are Sara bint Faisal Al Saud and Moudi bint Khalid Al Saud, both members of the Saudi royal family.[21][22] As of December 2016, the following women were members of the council:[23]

  • Khawla Sami Alkuraya
  • Ahlam Mohammed al-Hakmi (Academic scholar, dean at Jazan University)
  • Asma Saleh al-Zahrani (Academic scholar)
  • Iqbal zain al-Abedin Darandri (Statistics and research)
  • Amal Salama al-Shaman
  • Jawaher Dhafer al-Anizi
  • Jawhara Nasser al-Yami
  • Hamda Maqbool al-Joufi
  • Hanan Abdulrahman al-Ahmadi (Associate professor of health administration at the Institute of Public Administration); Assistant Speaker since October 2020
  • Raedah Abdullah Abunayan
  • Zainab Abu Taleb
  • Samia Abdullah Bakhari (Academic and religious scholar)
  • Sultanah Abdulmusleh al-Bidwi (Educationalist)
  • Aalia Mohammed al-Dahlawi (Researcher in micro-biology)
  • Fatimah al-Shehri
  • Fardous Saud al-Saleh (Doctorate in nuclear physics)
  • Fawzia Aba al-Khail (Fawziyya Abu Khalid?)
  • Kawthar al-Arbash (Writer and journalist)
  • Latifa Ahmad al-Buainain
  • Latifah Ashaalan (Associate professor of psychology at Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University)
  • Lina K. Almaeena (Member of the Kingdom Young Business Women Council)
  • Mona Almushait (Associate professor in obstetrics and gynecology at King Khalid University)
  • Mastourah Obaid Al-Shammari
  • Nihad Al-Jishi
  • Nora Abdulrahman Al-Yousif
  • Nora Faraj al-Musaed (Sociology professor at King Abdulaziz University)
  • Nora Al-Shaaban
  • Nora Mohammed al-Merri (Researcher on Arabic literature)
  • Huda Abdurahman Al-Halisi
  • Mody AlKhalaf (Diplomat)

See also


  1. ^ a b c Al Mulhim, Abdulateef (23 February 2013). "Saudi Stability and Royal Succession". Arab News. Archived from the original on 4 January 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Saudi Arabia's Shura Council Wants Women To Lead in Civil Service". About Her. 2018. Archived from the original on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  3. ^ Wilson, Peter W. and Graham, Douglas: Saudi Arabia: The Coming Storm (1994)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Rundell, David (22 April 2009). "Saudi Consultative Council dominated By U.S.-educated experts". WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks cable: 09RIYADH598. Archived from the original on 12 January 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2012. Cite journal requires |journal=
  5. ^ a b Al Kahtani, Mohammad Zaid (December 2004). "The Foreign Policy of King Abdulaziz" (PDF). University of Leeds. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b Cordesman, Anthony H. (30 October 2002). "Saudi Arabia enters the 21st century: III. Politics and internal stability" (PDF). Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Retrieved 24 January 2021.
  7. ^ a b c The Middle East and North Africa 2003. Taylor & Francis. 2002. ISBN 978-1-85743-132-2.
  8. ^ "Shura in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: A Historical Background". Majlis ash Shura. Archived from the original on 26 February 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  9. ^ "Saudis vote in municipal elections, results on Sunday". Oman Observer/AFP. 30 September 2011. Archived from the original on 15 December 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d "Saudi king grants women seats on advisory council for 1st time". Fox News. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Women on 3 Shoura panels". Saudi Gazette. 25 February 2013. Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  12. ^ a b Kapiszewski, Andrzej (2006). "Saudi Arabia: Steps Toward Democratization or Reconfiguration of Authoritarianism?f". Journal of African and Asian Studies. 41 (5–6): 459–482. doi:10.1177/0021909606067407. S2CID 144162867. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  13. ^ a b c "Saudi Arabia – Majlis Ash Shura (Consultative Council)". International Parliamentary Union. 2011. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  14. ^ a b "Next Shoura Council members". Saudi Gazette. 15 February 2009. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  15. ^ "New Shoura secretary-general appointed". Arab News. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  16. ^ a b c d e f The Shura Council of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – A Brief History
  17. ^ http://www.arabnews.com/node/212039
  18. ^ "Okaz Archive Consultative Assembly". Okaz. 15 September 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2012.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Aba-Namay, Rashed (1998). "The New Saudi Representative Assembly". Islamic Law and Society. 5 (2): 235–265. doi:10.1163/1568519982599490. JSTOR 3399342.
  20. ^ "Committees". Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia. 2015. Archived from the original on 23 March 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  21. ^ "A critical analysis of the literature in Women's leadership in Saudi Arabia". Researchplusjournals.com. March 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  22. ^ "Breakthrough in Saudi Arabia: women allowed in parliament". Al Arabiya. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  23. ^ Ismaeel Naar (4 December 2016). "Who are the women named in Saudi Arabia's Shoura council?". Alarabiya.net. Retrieved 2 April 2018.

External links

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