King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia delivered an address to the opening of the third year of the fifth term of the Saudi Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura) in Riyadh on Sunday, September 25, 2011. In his address he expanded political reforms for women with the announcement that they will participate in the next round of elections — municipal council seats in 2015 — and could be appointed to the Consultative Council. SUSRIS is pleased to share the Saudi Press Agency’s report of King Abdullah’s address. (Other versions of the speech have been circulated.) We invite you to check the related materials on the new SUSRIS Special Section, “Women and the Vote,” which will be updated as new materials appears.
King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud
Address to the Consultative Council
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
September 25, 2011
Upon arrival at Majlis Al-Shura headquarters, the King was received by Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz, the Acting Governor of Riyadh region, and the Speaker of Majlis Al-Shura Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh.
The King, then, shook hands with the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and President of Senior Scholars Council and Scholarly Research and Ifta Department Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh, President of the Supreme Council of Magistracy Dr. Saleh bin Abdullah bin Homaid, and a number of scholars and sheikhs.
The King, then, delivered the following address:
‘In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Gracious,
Peace be upon Prophet Mohammed and His companions,
I am pleased to meet you at the opening of the third year of the fifth term of Majlis Al-Shura, praying to Allah Almighty to crown your works with success.
The struggle of the father of all people, the late King Abdul Aziz, with your grandfathers (Mercy be upon their souls), has resulted in the unity of hearts, land, and one destiny. Today, this destiny imposes on us to preserve this legacy, and not to stop here, but to develop it further in line with Islamic and moral values.
Yes, it is a responsibility towards our religion, and the interest of our country and its citizens that we should not stop at the hurdles of the current time; but we should strengthen our determination by patience and works with dependence on Allah to address them.
Balanced modernization in line with our Islamic values, which preserve rights, is an important requirement in an era with no room for the weak and undecided people.
All people know that Muslim women have had in the Islamic history, positions that cannot be marginalized, including correct opinions and advice since the era of Prophet Mohammed, as examples, we cite the advice of the Mother of Believers ‘Umm Salamah’ on ‘Al-Hudaybiyah’ Day, in addition to many examples during the era of the Prophet’s companions and followers until today.
‘Since we reject to marginalize the role of women in the Saudi society, in every field of works, according to the (Islamic) Sharia guidelines, and after consultations with many of our scholars, especially those in the senior scholars council, and others, who have expressed the preference for this orientation, and supported this trend, we have decided the following:
First, the participation of women in the Majlis Al-Shura as members from next session in accordance with the Shari’a guidelines.
Second, as of the next session, women will have the right to nominate themselves for membership of Municipal Councils, and also have the right to participate in the nomination of candidates with the Islamic guidelines.
You -my brothers and sisters- have rights that we strive to achieve all matters that are for your pride, your dignity and your interests. It is our right to seek your opinions and advices, according to Sharia guidelines, and the fundamentals of religion, and those who keep away from these guidelines, they are arrogant persons and they have to bear the responsibility of these actions.
I pray Allah Almighty for help and glory.
May peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you.
- Saudi Women Get Voting Rights – SUSRIStube – Sep 27, 2011
- The King’s Speech – SUSRIStube – Sep 27, 2011
In the Media
- More countries laud voting rights for Saudi women – Saudi Gazette – Sep 28, 2011
- King strongly believes in women’s role: Prince Naif – Saudi Gazette – Sep 28, 2011
- King Abdullah grants women the vote – Arab News – Sep 26, 2011
- Saudi Women Welcome Suffrage, Keep Eye on Driver’s Seat – VOAnews – Sep 26, 2011
- Saudi Women Can Vote but Face Long Road (Without a Driver’s License) to Equality – FoxNews – Sep 26, 2011
- Questions follow Saudi king’s promise on women’s rights – CNN – Sep 26, 2011
- West hails Saudi measures for women – UPI – Sep 26, 2011
- Saudi women to vote, but still can’t drive – Pillar – WashingtonPost/AP – Sep 26, 2011
- The Old Man and the Women of Saudi Arabia – The National Interest – Sep 26, 2011
- Arab Spring Benefits Saudi Women – DailyBeast – Sep 26, 2011
- First step for Saudi women’s rights – Murphy – BBC – Sep 25, 2011
- Women in Saudi Arabia to vote and run in elections – BBC – Sep 25, 2011
- Statement from National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor on Saudi Arabia’s Announced Reforms – White House – Sep 25, 2011
- Shoura favors women voting – Arab News – Jun 7, 2011
- Women plan to show up at poll centers – Arab News – Apr 22, 2011