The Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia or commonly known as the Shoura Council has quite an influence in Saudi Arabia. The council exhibits the powers of proposing laws to the cabinet and the King himself.
However as Saudi Arabia is under the legislation of absolute monarchy, the King only has the powers reserved for enforcing a law. The Majlis-e-Shoura or Shoura Council thereby acts as an advisor to the King.
It is a formal advisory body that currently has 150 members. The council is headed by a speaker. Presently Mr. Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al ash-Sheikh of heads the council.
The council has formulated its assembly in Riyadh at the Al Yamamah Palace. The council dates back to 1926 when it was founded by the King, King Abdul Aziz. It was first chaired by the son of King Abdul Aziz, Prince Faisal.
However, it was the year 1932, when the council was finalized with only 25 members. Since then the council has expanded. By the end of 2003, the council was able to make its place in the International Parliamentary Union.
From 2013 onwards, Saudi women have been granted permission to become members of the council: 30 seats were reserved for women by King Abdullah.
The number of members reached to 150 members with one speaker in the fourth term council. These 150 members are highly educated. Members selected are the ones who have a strong grip on their field and exhibit great expertise. Mostly these members are the ones with a great educational profile, former civil servants, retired officials, and businessmen.
70% of the members during the term 2009-13 were PhDs scholars. Most of them have completed their education from the United States. 16% of the members held bachelor’s degree while 13% had completed their masters.
The members of the council are selected from different provinces. Currently, Makkah has the most representation on the council. 24% of the members of the council belong to Makkah. The council has now 13 specialized and official committees. These committees are of different nature like Islamic, social, educational, foreign affairs, economical technology and Human rights.
The Shoura Council has a great influence on the politics and economy of Saudi Arabia. It has been provided with the authority to propose laws. It, therefore, formulates a draft of law and submits to the acting King, The King shall pass it, send back for revision or reject it. If shoura approves a Law, it is binding even on the King and Crown Prince.
The state ministries and state level agencies also approach the shoura council for the examination of their annual reports. Other than these the shoura council has the following authorities:
1-Review the country’s budget
2-Call in a minister and question his activities and performance
3-Advice the King on the policies that King submits to the council
4-Advice the King on the international and economic treaties
5-Various policies are first under debate at shoura council and then enacted according to its verdict
6-Overlook the country’s five-year development plan