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A Guide to Saudi Arabia Politics: 6. Information on current political issues.

Political issues

The main political issues in modern Saudi Arabia are the upcoming political reform, religious freedom, women’s rights, minority right, and economic reform (CDHR).

            Saudi Arabia’s position in the world oil market and its membership in the OPEC require the country to conduct a deep political reform to enhance its international position. Absolute monarchy, oppression of women and religious minorities, and domestic extremism are the preconditions for the democratization of the country. Saudi Arabia has to make a choice whether to give more power to its people and increase the overall performance, or to keep its rigid political structure (CDHR).

            Another important issue is religious freedom throughout the country. Any public practice of other than Islam religion causes severe sanctions from the state. Such practices are unlikely for the country that wants to attract more investments and foreigners. Saudi Arabia needs to find the golden middle between religious devotion and international recognition (CDHR).

            Women in Saudi Arabia had limited rights in comparison to men for a long time. Although King Abdullah made some improvements by letting women into politics, the majority of women requires more rights widely accepted in the West, such as driving, travelling without men’s permission, playing sports etc.(CDHR).

            Minorities in Saudi Arabia also face severe discrimination in education and employment. Most of the religious minorities do not have legal rights or protection, which results in their exclusion from Saudi Arabian life. Being under a great pressure from the West, compliance with basic human rights and freedoms becomes an important issue in the Saudi politics (CDHR).

            Finally, the limited rights of minorities may impact the economic growth of the country. Almost one third of the Saudi population make foreigners that generate 67% of country’s labor force. This means that Saudi Arabia needs to conduct economic reforms that enhance their labor force to increase productivity and overall economy of the state (CDHR).