JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Saudi King Abdullah, who underwent surgery last year for back-related problems, will undergo an operation in the coming days, Saudi Arabia’s state news agency reported on Tuesday.
The health of the ruler of the world’s leading oil exporter is of keen interest, given his age — thought to be 88 — and uncertainty over how power would be transferred within Saudi Arabia’s ruling royal family. The family governs Saudi Arabia in consultation with conservative clerics adhering to the austere Wahhabi school of Islam.
One of Saudi Arabia’s most senior clerics said he was not consulted about King Abdullah’s decision to grant women more political rights, one of the first signs of discontent from powerful conservatives since the reform was announced. In a speech last week the Saudi monarch announced that women would vote and run in future municipal council elections and serve in the appointed Shura Council which advises the king on policy. King Abdullah said his decision was made after consultation with the country’s most senior clerics, who have extensive political and social influence.
“I wish the king did not say that he consulted senior clerics… When I heard the speech and what was said about consultation, without a doubt I had no knowledge of it before hearing the king’s speech,” Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, a member of the senior clerics council, said on the al-Majd television channel on Friday. A recording of the broadcast was available on YouTube.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – One of Saudi Arabia’s most senior clerics said he was not consulted about King Abdullah’s decision to grant women more political rights, one of the first signs of discontent from powerful conservatives since the reform was announced.
In a speech last week the Saudi monarch announced that women would vote and run in future municipal council elections and serve in the appointed Shura Council which advises the king on policy.
JEDDAH/DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabian men voted in only the second nationwide election in the country’s history on Thursday, but nearly empty polling booths in the second city, Jeddah, showed few were enthusiastic about voting for municipal councils with little power.
In a year when demands for democracy rocked other major Arab nations, only 1.08 million Saudi men even registered to vote in elections to choose just half the members of municipal councils.
JEDDAH/DUBAI (Reuters) – The right to vote in elections in a country that remains an absolute monarchy, where they still may not work nor travel without assent from a male relative nor drive a car, may seem a small step for the women of Saudi Arabia.
Yet King Abdullah’s unexpected move was a momentous turn in the culture wars that have marked his reign. It may presage more change, not only for women but in the relationship between royal house and clergy upon which the state was founded, and among rivals within a ruling family that faces mounting demands from subjects who see other Arabs pushing closer to democracy.
JEDDAH, Sept 25 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia will allow women to
stand for election and vote, the king announced on Sunday, in a
significant policy shift in the conservative Islamic kingdowm.
In a five-minute speech, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud
said women will also take part in the next session of the
unelected, advisory Shura Council, which vets legislation but
has no binding powers.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Outside a villa surrounded by palm trees on the outskirts of Saudi Arabia’s second largest city Jeddah, police cars guard an exceptional criminal court where 16 men were put on trial this year after more than four years detention.
The men face charges of “funding terrorism” and coordinating with al Qaeda to take power along with a host of other charges finally pressed last year.
Saudi Arabia has begun the biggest expansion yet of Islam’s holiest site, the Grand Mosque in Mecca, to raise its capacity to 2 million pilgrims, the state news agency SPA said. “King Abdullah inaugurated in Mecca (on Friday) the start of the expansion… which is the largest of all previous expansions combined,” SPA said. It did not say how much it will cost to add 400,000 square meters to the mosque’s area or how long the project will take.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah demanded an end to the bloodshed in Syria on Monday and recalled his country’s ambassador from Damascus, in a rare case of one of the Arab world’s most powerful leaders intervening against another.
It was the sharpest criticism the oil giant — an absolute monarchy that bans political opposition — has directed against any Arab state since a wave of protests roiled the Middle East and toppled autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has revised an anti-terrorism law and made it less severe than a leaked version that was heavily criticised by human rights groups, a Shura Council spokesman said Saturday.
“The draft that was published is not the final one,” said Mohammed Almohanna, spokesman for the advisory parliament.