Woman appointed to Saudi Council of Ministers
This blog’s very first post concerned women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and we have since followed other developments in the desert kingdom, good, bad, and ugly. This one is good: King Abdullah has appointed a woman to the Saudi Council of Ministers for the first time. Noor Al-Fayez will serve as deputy minister for women’s education.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies. The Council of Ministers is appointed by and responsible to the king and merely advises him on the formulation of general policy and assisted with managing the activities of the bureaucracy. The council consists of a prime minister, the first and second deputy prime ministers, 20 ministers (of whom the minister of defense also is the second deputy prime minister), two ministers of state, and a small number of advisers and heads of major, autonomous organizations.
Khaled Al-Maeena, editor-in-chief of Arab News, an English-language daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia, called many of the other appointments in what is the council’s biggest shake-up since Abdullah became king in 2005 very “progressive”, which is a very good thing.
King Abdullah appears to be, very slowly, moving the country in a more liberal direction, but considering how reactionary the place is it’s still just about the most conservative place on the planet. He is 84 years old and the Crown Prince is just two years younger. Succession to the Saudi Monarchy can be a messy process and it will be interesting to see how things shake out in the next two decades when the last of the sons of Ibn Saud, the nation’s modern founder, pass on.