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Today in Saudi

FAQs – Questions & Answers

There are some questions about life in Saudi Arabia that the Embassy are frequently asked by students. Below is a selection of these questions, and answers to them.

Q: How does Saudi Arabia help other countries?

A: Saudi Arabia is committed to helping those less materially fortunate than themselves in the developing world. It is an obligation on Muslims to help those less well off.

Since the mid 1970s Saudi Arabia has been a leading Donor in terms of Overseas Development Aid. The United Nations set a target of 0.7 per cent of national output to be given by donor states. Saudi Arabia has always given well in excess of this and between 1973 and 1992 an amount equalling 5.45 per cent of its average national output was given in aid.

The main source of Saudi development aid is the Saudi Fund for Development.

In all seventy states have benefited from the Kingdom’s aid in different continents: 38 in Africa, 22 in Asia and 10 states elsewhere.

Q: What is the Kingdom’s stand on environmental pollution?

A: The Meteorology and Environmental Protection Administration was set up 24 years ago and in 1990 the Ministerial Committee on the Environment was formed to set environmental strategies and policies at national level. In support of this environmental work, the National Commission for Wildlife Development was established in 1985 to manage protected areas in order to preserve and maintain the Kingdom’s indigenous wild life. The aims of the three agencies are:

  • To conserve and develop the environment and protect it from pollution.
  • To upgrade and enhance the quality of life and well being of citizens by ensuring that the environment is pollution free and that there is pure air, clean water and healthy food.
  • To achieve balanced and sustainable development by conserving natural resources.
  • To conserve, protect and develop the Kingdom’s wildlife and preserve the bio-diversity that forms an integral part of its natural resources within a framework for achieving balance between environmental and economic considerations.

Q: Does Saudi Arabia have the death penalty and why?

A: The law of Saudi Arabia is Sharia or Islamic law and the Kingdom is governed by that. It is the law as passed down by the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) in the Qu’uran and in his other writings.

The sentence of death can be passed on those found guilty of: murder, drug trafficking, and on those inciting and committing violent acts against the community as a whole.

Anyone accused and found guilty of any criminal act has recourse to several appeal courts before sentence is confirmed and this can only be done by the King.

However, in the case of the death penalty for murder, the victim’s family has the ultimate right to grant the accused clemency or forgiveness. This overturns any other judgement.

Q: What are prison conditions like?

A: Conditions in prisons vary dramatically but the updating of all prisons throughout the Kingdom to international standards has been made a top priority. The Presidency for Prisons oversees and carries out this work. Some prisons, like the prison in Riyadh are modern and air-conditioned with good exercise facilities, televisions and videos for prisoners use. They even offer prisoners a choice of menus. Food can also be brought in for them from outside. All prisoners have the right to be visited by their families.

Q: What rights do suspects have in prison?

A: All prisoners have rights. They have the right to a lawyer to represent them. You cannot prosecute someone without evidence, Sharia law demands that. They also have the right for their family to visit them whatever the charge.

Q: What measures are used to deal with war crimes?

A: Saudi Arabia upholds and respects United Nations resolutions in respect to war. It is worth noting that it is against Saudi law to kill prisoners of war. In the event of war it is also against Saudi law to attack civilians, women and children or to damage the environment or economic base of a country.

Q: What rights do children have?

A: Children have the ultimate right in Islamic law. They have the right to protection by society, the right to education and the right to be given a good name from birth. They must stay with their mother until they are nine years old and then can choose to live with their mother or father if they are living separately.

Q: What rights do women have?

A: Women have the same rights to education as men and are increasingly taking up jobs in the community working in a wide range of professions from teaching and medicine to business and public relations.

A 2003 directive by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques says that it is important that women are now granted the same rights as men in all areas of public life. Women have always played a strong role within Saudi society and several women were recently appointed as advisors to the Al-Shura Council.

Because of the Kingdom’s inheritance laws they own 40 per cent of Saudi property.

If you have a question you would like to ask please email us at: info@exploresaudiarabia.com

Photographs courtesy of Peter Sanders.

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