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Risk Management Report: Saudi Arabia

Risk Management Reports
Issue 977 - 02 Oct 2014 | 1 minute read

POLITICS: Saudi Arabia is the giant of the Gulf Co-operation Council, not least because of its massive oil wealth. Established in 1932, the kingdom is an absolute monarchy. To date, all rulers have been sons of Abdelaziz Bin Saud, the first monarch; a few younger family members have recently taken more senior positions, but there is much speculation about what will happen when the aged first generation of Al-Saud eventually cede control. Reigning nonagenarian King Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz took over in 2005 on the death of his brother Fahd, and has overseen some reform of education and the judiciary. He faces many problems, including a poor underclass, booming population, high unemployment and unrest in Shiite communities in the Eastern Province. Foreign policy is driven by the desire to maintain regional hegemony and to compete with Iran. Riyadh’s relationship with Washington has been stormy at times, but is sustained by a mutual dependence. Saudi Arabia has a poor record on human rights, and severely restricts freedom of expression. Despite small advances, women’s rights continue to be limited: women may not drive, and must have permission from a male guardian to travel, work or enrol in higher education. King Abdullah has said women will be fully involved in the four-yearly municipal council elections (the country’s only polls) and, in early 2013,

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