November 2008
Saudi Arabia Country Profile;2008, p11
Country Report
Saudi Arabia, in its present form, came into existence in 1932 when the areas controlled by Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdur Rahman Al-Faisal Al Saud (Ibn Saud) were unified and he was proclaimed the king. Since then, the kingdom has been ruled by the Saud dynasty and the country has continued to follow Islamic religious traditions. The present monarch, King Abdullah, assumed the throne in 2005. Although he has tried to bring some reforms such as the introduction of a legislative council and local elections, he has not deviated from the country's traditional practices and seeks the approval of religious clerics in the policy-making process. The judicial system of the country has remained conservative, without any separation of powers, and the king is the final decision maker. Although the country has been opening up its economy for foreign investors in important sectors like telecoms, power and aviation, a preference for Saudi nationals continues to exist in matters of business and employment. The country has seen tremendous GDP growth, primarily driven by rising oil revenues. Saudi Arabia has a quarter of world's oil reserves. However, its income has not improved the lives of the vast majority of its population. Growing unemployment and income inequality have remained challenges for the government. Furthermore, the country has done very little to improve the status of women. Its educational policies are also based on religious principles, which have retarded the technological development of the country. The government also needs to take measures for the effective implementation of environment regulations. The ongoing development plan has identified the major weaknesses of the country and the government has begun to take measures to transform Saudi Arabia into a diversified economy and a developed nation.


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