The Political Role of Oil and the House of Saud

21 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2005


The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy characterized by the exceptionally important role of the royal family, "the House of Saud". Members of the dynasty fill most key positions and maintain a near monopoly over political activity in the country. To make matters worse, the royal family has followed a policy of extreme discretion, making it structures, divisions and duties more in matter of speculation than of fact. Non royal political affairs are equally obscure, because political activity outside the royal family is banned. Hence, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with an unelected consultative council that acts like a parliament. Political parties are banned and press freedoms are limited. The king of Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarch within the constraints of his family's support and laws of Islam. He is the head of the state and chief executive of the government. There is no democracy in government, but the democratic spirit in human relationships of the Bedouin tribe prevails. The king is highly approachable to all his subjects irrespective of their social status. Hence the question arises why the "House of Saud" is so strong and why the "Size of State" so large in Saudi Arabia. This paper is an attempt to analyse the causes which makes the "House of Saud", concentration of almost all the political activity of Saudi Arabia.

Suggested Citation

Khatoon, Syeeda, The Political Role of Oil and the House of Saud. Available at SSRN: or

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