Woman appointed to Saudi Council of Ministers

The Saudi flag bears does not appear on the nation's military uniforms because it bears the shahada ("There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet") which it would be blasphemous to display while going to the bathroom

The Saudi flag bears does not appear on military uniforms because it bears the shahada ("There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet") which it would be blasphemous to display while going to the bathroom

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.

King Abdullah (b. 1924) has a net worth of about $21 billion

King Abdullah (b. 1924) has a net worth of about $21 billion

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.

6 comments so far

  1. Dr. Baqar on

    The Saudi King appointed a woman as deputy minister (not a ministerial rank) for womens’ education. The deputy minister is not part of the ministry council board. The latest appointments are cousmtic moves nothing substantial about it. The appoinments are intended to show the outside world that the Kingdom is trying to move forward with modernation when infact the Kingdom is dragging its’ feet when it comes to implementing democratic values, people participation, freedom of speech and freedom regarding practicing religion.

  2. Khadija Gwen Boucher on

    I am hopeful that this will move us into the 21st century in a very moderate way. I have no wish to destroy the society, but women should not be treated as Cattle.

    Inshallah, this process will be orderly and peaceful.

    Ma Salama

  3. johnrj08 on

    Excuse me, Khadija. You think that this appointment means that women are no longer being treated like household pets in Saudi Arabia? This woman was appointed to run WOMEN’S education. When the Kingdom puts a woman in charge of something having to do with its men, then I’ll acknowledge some change. Women aren’t even allowed to drive in that country. If you think treating women as equals would destroy Saudi Arabia, then maybe the women of the Kingdom should consider relocating. These people are the debris of the Dark Ages.

  4. Syed on

    Excuse me, John. Unless you live here you probably don’t know much about the place. You can read all you want but unless you actually have lived in Saudi Arabia I don’t think you should be allowed to judge what should and should not happen here. I am all for women’s emancipation in Saudi Arabia, but it is a process that has to come from within. We don’t need any more George Bush’s dictating to the world how it needs to be. There are problems here, but show me a country where women are treated as equals with men. By the best estimates, women in the United States earn only 80% of what the men make for the job, debris of the Dark Ages indeed.

    • Khadija Gwen Boucher on

      As Salaam Alaykom Brother Syed:

      I do not intend to be disrespectful, but in the USA, I can enter and leave the country, drive a car, marry and divorce without the permission of any man.

      In the USA, I am told that in Marketing, Real Estate, Publishing and one other field, women make up to twice what a Man does.

      I must hasten to admit that I can not walk across a parking lot at night without fear, but I have friends in Sauudia who say they can not walk on the street alone in daylight with out getting handed by males. Men seem to be able to get away with almost anything, but I as a woman would be beaten or worse for doing the same thing there.

      It is well known that in your society girls can be married long before they are physically mature enough to bear children, according to well proven Medical Knowlege. Child marriage was permissible in the time of our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, but in my opinion, that time is well passed.

      Tribal Islam is long obsolete and we as Muslims need to move toward Qur’anic Islam and live according to the way that Allah SWT and the Prophet Muhammad PBUH intended.

      Please do not be upset with me. I only want to do the will of Allah SWT.

      Ma Salama


  5. johnrj08 on

    Yeah, Syed. You guys take your time with that. Maybe in another century women in Saudi Arabia will be able to do half the things they can do in most of the western world. This is not about George Bush or even the United States. This is about Saudi Arabia, which is run by bearded old clerics who think it’s acceptable to arrange a marriage between a 46-year-old man and an 8-year-old girl in payment for a debt. There is some economic chauvinism in the United States, but the point is that it is against the law in this country to discriminate in any way against women. And there is NO condition under which is it EVER acceptable for a man to physically abuse a woman. Citizens living in the United States may have their personal dysfunctions, but the country itself does not condone nor sanction any kind of gender discrimination. It Saudi Arabia, discrimination is a way of life.

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