The Legal System Of The Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia: A Nation Built on Robust Regulatory Foundations

Saudi Arabia is a country founded on robust regulatory systems that form the core of governance and administration within the nation. These systems ensure stability, preserve national identity, and contribute to sustainable development. Below, we will review the main systems that govern the state’s functions.

Basic Law of Governance

The Basic Law of Governance is considered the constitutional document of Saudi Arabia, officially declared in 1992. It plays a crucial role in defining the state’s structure and its legal and administrative foundations, setting the general framework for sovereignty and governance, and emphasizing the Islamic identity of the state as a fundamental element in all aspects of governance.

Constitutional Foundations

The Basic Law states that governance in the Kingdom is based on Islamic Sharia, derived from the Holy Quran and the Sunnah, which are the main sources of legislation. This system clarifies how Islamic Sharia is applied as the basis for creating and implementing laws, ensuring justice and equality.

Sovereignty and Governance

The system affirms that sovereignty belongs to the nation, exercised within the limits of Islamic Sharia. It outlines the mechanism for the transfer of power and ensures the continuity of governance within the royal family according to the Allegiance Council system.

Rights and Duties of Citizens

The system establishes a framework for the rights and duties of citizens, emphasizing the importance of fundamental rights such as the right to education, work, and expression within the limits guaranteed by Sharia. It also defines national duties such as defending the country and participating in its social and economic development.

Legislative and Executive Roles

The system clarifies the interaction between legislative and executive authorities, specifying the roles of the Council of Ministers and the Consultative Council in formulating and implementing government policies. It highlights the role of the king as the head of state and the supreme ruler in guiding the state’s general policy and caring for the people’s interests.

The Cabinet System

The Cabinet system in Saudi Arabia forms the fundamental structure of the executive authority and is the main axis for managing state affairs. This council manages daily government operations and implements public policies under the direct guidance of the King.

Composition and Structure

The Cabinet consists of ministers responsible for various government sectors and the Prime Minister, who is also the King or appointed by him. This composition ensures that all important sectors are represented in government decision-making.

Functions and Responsibilities

The Council is responsible for formulating the state’s public policies and monitoring their implementation. This includes developing laws and regulations that govern the economic, social, cultural, and security affairs of the Kingdom. The Council also evaluates the performance of government sectors and updates policies as needed.

Judicial and Legislative Authorities

Although the Basic Law defines roles, the Cabinet plays an important role in the legislative process through its recommendations and advice to the King, who has the final say in ratifying laws and amendments. The Council also contributes to defining judicial directions through the interpretation of laws and ensuring their application.

Strategic Role

The Cabinet maintains political and economic stability through its effective management of national resources and enhancing transparency and accountability. The Council works to promote sustainable development and improve the living standards of citizens by responding to the challenges of the era and global requirements.

Consultative Assembly (Shura Council) System

The Shura Council represents a vital aspect of the governmental system in Saudi Arabia, providing consultations and recommendations to the King on various issues affecting the state.

Composition and Structure

The Shura Council consists of 150 members appointed by royal decree. The members are experts and specialists in various fields such as economics, law, education, and others, enabling the council to offer well-informed recommendations based on extensive expertise.

Functions and Responsibilities

The council discusses a wide range of issues, including state public policies, economic proposals, and legislative amendments. The members study proposed laws and regulations and provide their recommendations to the King, who may consider them in his final decisions.

Advisory Role

Although the Shura Council does not possess direct legislative power, it plays a significant role in the legislative process through its advisory influence. The council’s tasks also include reviewing current government policies and proposing necessary improvements or changes.

Transparency and Participation

To increase transparency, sessions of the Shura Council are publicly broadcasted through various media channels, allowing citizens to follow the discussions and decisions made. This enhances the level of public participation in the political process and reflects the Kingdom’s commitment to developing a more transparent and interactive governance system.

Impact on National Policy

The Shura Council is an important mechanism for enhancing stability and growth in the Kingdom, contributing to decision-making based on technical and professional consultations, which enhances the efficiency of public policies and supports the social and economic development of the country.

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The Allegiance Council System

The Allegiance Council plays a central role in determining the succession of leadership within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Established in 2006, the Council ensures an orderly and organized transition of power within the royal family.

Objective and Purpose

The primary objective of establishing the Allegiance Council is to organize and facilitate the process of selecting successors to the King and the Crown Prince, ensuring continuity of governance and political stability in the Kingdom. The Council acts as a bridge between generations of rulers, maintaining the order and traditions of the ruling family.

Composition and Process

The Allegiance Council consists of members of the royal family, including the sons of the founding King and the heads of the main family branches. Their function is to consult and vote on selecting candidates for the state’s top leadership positions when necessary.

Procedures and Protocols

The Allegiance Council system outlines the procedures and protocols that must be followed when selecting a King or Crown Prince. This includes selection criteria and voting methods, ensuring the process is transparent and fair.

Advisory Role

In addition to its role in choosing leadership, the Allegiance Council also provides advice to the King on matters related to governance and succession, enhancing its role as an important advisory element within the government structure.

Impact on National Stability

The Allegiance Council system contributes to enhancing national stability by providing an organized mechanism for the transition of power. This system ensures the avoidance of internal conflicts and preserves the unity of the royal family and the state.

The Regional System

The regional system in Saudi Arabia is a fundamental pillar of local administration and decentralized governance. This system aims to enhance efficiency and achieve balanced development by dividing the country into various regions, each overseen by a prince appointed by royal decree.

Organizational Structure

The Kingdom is divided into several administrative regions, each comprising a number of governorates. Each region is led by a prince, assisted by a deputy and a regional council that includes representatives from the citizens and government entities. This arrangement facilitates local administrations in more effectively meeting the needs of their regions.

Functions and Responsibilities

The appointed princes bear significant responsibility in implementing national policies and coordinating between the central government and local administrations. Their role includes overseeing economic and social development, ensuring sustainable and comprehensive development aligned with national objectives.

Decentralization and Development

The regional system enhances the principle of decentralization by distributing powers, providing broader scope for local initiatives and opportunities to develop developmental projects tailored to the specifics of each region. This strategy contributes to improving service levels and enhancing the quality of life for residents.

Transparency and Community Participation

The regional system encourages community participation by integrating local residents into decision-making processes. Regional councils hold regular sessions allowing residents to discuss local issues and propose solutions, enhancing transparency and achieving better communication between the government and citizens.

Challenges and Opportunities

With the increasing need for balanced development, the regional system faces challenges related to balancing economic growth with the preservation of local traditions and cultures. However, this system offers significant opportunities for improving management and promoting comprehensive growth throughout the Kingdom.

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General Systems:

The general systems in Saudi Arabia constitute the legal and regulatory framework for all aspects of life within the state. These systems include the following:

Economic System:

The Kingdom regulates the economy in alignment with Vision 2030, which aims to reduce dependency on oil and diversify income sources. Economic systems include investment laws, taxes, and customs that facilitate trade and stimulate both foreign and local investment.

Social System:

Includes labor laws, social insurance, and educational and health systems. This system aims to improve the quality of life for citizens, promote social justice, and ensure the provision of essential services to all community segments.

Cultural System:

The Kingdom enacts laws that protect cultural identity and enhance cultural and artistic activities. This includes systems related to media and publishing, which support culture and the arts.

Environmental System:

The Kingdom is taking serious steps to protect the environment through laws related to environmental conservation and reducing the carbon footprint. These systems include legislation on fishing, protection of endangered species, and waste management.

Health System:

The Kingdom focuses on enhancing health services through laws that regulate healthcare, such as those related to hospitals and clinics, health insurance, and public health policies.

Through these systems, Saudi Arabia strives to balance development with the preservation of its heritage and values, contributing to its stability and ongoing growth.

Executive Authority:

The executive authority in Saudi Arabia rests with the King and the Council of Ministers. The King leads the country and acts as the supreme commander of the armed forces, while the Council of Ministers handles the day-to-day execution of policies and government systems.

Role of the King:

  • The King is the head of state and the highest authority for major decisions in the Kingdom.
  • The King makes strategic decisions related to foreign policy, national security, and other major issues.
  • The King presides over the meetings of the Council of Ministers and directs the government’s general policies.

Council of Ministers:

  • The Council of Ministers consists of several ministers responsible for various government portfolios such as health, education, energy, etc.
  • The Council of Ministers is responsible for implementing laws and policies that are enacted, overseeing the day-to-day management of state affairs.
  • The Council organizes government efforts and ensures coordination of policies among different ministries to achieve national goals.

Interaction of the Executive Authority with Other Systems:

  • The executive authority works in harmony with the legislative authority that drafts laws and the judicial authority that ensures their application.
  • The executive authority ensures the implementation of general systems and monitors government bodies’ compliance with established laws and standards.

Impact of the Executive Authority on Daily Life:

  • By implementing public policies and overseeing services, the executive authority directly affects the quality of life and services provided to citizens.
  • It plays a crucial role in responding to crises and implementing national initiatives that benefit the country.

Regulatory Authority:

The regulatory authority in Saudi Arabia consists of several bodies and government ministries responsible for issuing and monitoring the implementation of laws and regulations that ensure order and organization across various vital sectors of the state. Here are some key examples and their roles:

Capital Market Authority (CMA): This body regulates and monitors the financial markets to ensure transparency and fairness in financial transactions. Its responsibilities include licensing financial companies, overseeing markets, and protecting investors from illegal or misleading activities.

General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT): This authority is tasked with collecting zakat and taxes, which are vital for funding government projects and public services. It also ensures compliance with tax regulations and updates them to reflect economic and social changes.

Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA): This authority focuses on ensuring the safety of food and drugs in the Saudi market. Its duties include inspecting products, assessing safety before allowing them to enter the market, and investigating any complaints related to the quality of food or drugs.

General Sports Authority: This body is concerned with regulating sports activities and developing sports in the Kingdom. It promotes investment in sports infrastructure and organizes sports tournaments to ensure competitiveness and effectiveness.

Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC): This authority oversees the telecommunications and information technology sector, striving to ensure the provision of high-quality and affordable telecommunications services, in addition to protecting user rights and promoting innovation and competition in the sector.

Through these regulatory efforts, Saudi Arabia ensures sustainable and equitable development that stimulates economic activity, protects citizens’ rights, and ensures the provision of effective and safe public services.

Judicial Authority:

The judicial authority in Saudi Arabia plays a pivotal role in maintaining order and applying Islamic Sharia. Here is a detailed look at the composition of the judicial system and the roles of various courts:

Supreme Court: This is the highest judicial authority in the country and plays a crucial role in interpreting laws and overseeing their application. It handles cases escalated from lower courts and delivers final decisions in major cases.

Courts of Appeal: Located in several regions around the Kingdom, these courts review cases appealed from primary courts. They help ensure that laws are applied fairly and justly.

General Courts: These courts deal with a variety of issues such as criminal, family, and civil cases. They apply Islamic Sharia in their rulings and emphasize the protection of individual rights.

Commercial Courts: Specialized in handling commercial and financial disputes. They resolve disputes between companies or between companies and individuals in a manner that preserves the rights of all parties and promotes a business-friendly environment.

Administrative Courts (Board of Grievances): Focus on cases between individuals and government entities. These courts ensure the application of administrative laws and protect rights against governmental overreach.

Specialized Courts: Such as personal status courts and labor courts. These courts handle specific issues and ensure that the laws pertaining to those issues are applied efficiently and effectively.

The impact of these courts extends to every aspect of life in the Kingdom, from enhancing justice and protecting human rights to stimulating economic growth and social stability. By applying Islamic Sharia, the judicial authority ensures the Kingdom’s adherence to its core values while providing an effective and independent judicial system.

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